## Entries in Calculus (12)

## Calculus low priority at Anderson

Michael Converse, a first year student at UCLA's Anderson School, offers his perspective on quant skills preparation. Note that the calculus he mentions needing for Managerial Economics is covered in the MBA Math course and requires no more than 30 minutes to understand the concepts and apply the mechanics.

At UCLA Anderson, we needed to know how to take a first derivative for a unit of MANAGERIAL ECONOMICS. I wouldn’t suggest taking an extensive calculus course just to learn how to take a first derivative. I took an INTRO TO CALCULUS course and regret wasting the time. I now know a lot of calculus that I will never apply. My time would have been better spent preparing for school.

In finance, some professors used advanced calculus to show how certain formulas are derived. Knowing calculus makes you feel better while watching or reading a complex derivation, BUT at the end of the day you’re tested on and use the formula…not how it was derived!

Ultimately, I would give calculus low priority in terms of preparation. If you want to get a basic understanding of a subject that you haven’t had any exposure to I would recommend, in addition to mbamath.com:

READING:THE CARTOON GUIDE TO STATISTICS (seriously, this book is great)

ACCOUNTING FOR DUMMIES

TAKING:MATHEMATICS FOR MANAGEMENT (most universities offer them online during the summer)

## Excel, Calculators, and Calculus

Responding to inquiries from prospective MBAs about quant skill tools and expectations at various programs concerning Excel, financial calculators, and calculus, I have posed the question to current MBA students serving on the MBA Math board of advisors.

Of particular interest are exams. Some schools limit laptop use (and thus Excel) during exams to limit the potential for internet-facilitated cheating. It's a "trust but verify" approach to the honor code.

Responses will follow as separate posts.

I welcome responses from current students at other MBA programs.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? No at Cornell

From conversations with administrators at Cornell's Johnson School, which recently purchased subscriptions for all incoming students to the MBA Math quantitative preparation course, there is no need for calculus in the first year MBA curriculum.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? Learn on the Fly at Georgetown

I received the following response from a first year at Georgetown's McDonough School:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

Georgetown does not emphasize a need to brush up on calculus. In fact, it used to be a prerequisite but in the last couple of years they have discontinued that requirement.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

The campus provides Statistics, Accounting and Excel but no Calculus pre-term courses.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

I have never taken a calculus class and I have been doing OK in my classes. I remember a few times that my stats, econ and finance professors would say, “this is basic calculus that everyone should know” but I would just learn whatever calculus functions were necessary for that particular aspect of class.

4. If yes to some of the above, would you recommend that prospective students interested in your program brush up on calculus before starting or just refresh their memories on the fly during their coursework? If you suggest advance prep, would you give it low, medium, or high priority relative to other pre-MBA preparation needs (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting, finance basics).

I wish I had taken a calculus class prior to coming to school as it would have given me more confidence throughout my course work. I do agree with one of the other responses that algebra is a higher priority than calculus.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? Conceptual Familiarity at LBS

I received the following response from a second year at London Business School:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

I don't remember any specific suggestion on this. I know the program incorporated accounting and statistics as core courses rather than pre-term teaching 2 years ago.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

Not that I know of.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

I have seen references on calculus in many quant subjects (Finance/Operations/Marketing etc.) but I never had to use it. It was more of a reference on how to arrive to a certain formula. I am not sure if this depends on my focus (more marketing and strategy in the second year).

4. If yes to some of the above, would you recommend that prospective students interested in your program brush up on calculus before starting or just refresh their memories on the fly during their coursework? If you suggest advance prep, would you give it low, medium, or high priority relative to other pre-MBA preparation needs (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting, finance basics).

I think that a brush up can be useful, but with a lower priority than spreadsheets, accounting and finance basics.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? A Bit at Duke

I received the following response from a student soon to enter the Executive MBA program at Duke's Fuqua School:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

Yes.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

No, but there are other recommendations – details here.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

Not there yet.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? Minimal at Dartmouth

Since I teach the pre-term math camp at Tuck, I'll state that the need is minimal. I take 15 minutes to explain what problem calculus helps you to solve (e.g., what is the maximum profit?) and to remind students how to take the derivative of a polynomial. This coverage is included in the MBA Math course. Students use this minimally for marginal analysis in microeconomics and some second-year teaching assistants report that it comes up again minimally in finance for bond yields.

Let me add a second-year Tuck student's perspective:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

Tuck does not emphasize a need to brush up on calculus.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

I don’t recall calculus pre-term teaching as a part of the Tuck pre-term program. [Peter: I didn't make a lasting impression in my 15 minutes!!]

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

I have not used calculus extensively. I used my past strength in math to understand some of the micro-economic concepts taught using calculus but the class was not taught using a calculus based method.

4. If yes to some of the above, would you recommend that prospective students interested in your program brush up on calculus before starting or just refresh their memories on the fly during their coursework? If you suggest advance prep, would you give it low, medium, or high priority relative to other pre-MBA preparation needs (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting, finance basics).

I suggest for students who did not take math in undergrad to refresh all of their math skills. I think that algebra is more important than calculus. Algebra is at a high priority and calculus is at a medium priority for students that fit into this category.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? Yes at Columbia

I received the following response from a first year who started the Columbia accelerated program in January:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

Yes.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

A little bit about derivatives was introduced at the pre-course math session.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

Yes, in Microeconomics.

I think the calculus content is not as challenging as spreadsheets. You'd better get more versed in spreadsheet before coming to the campus.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? No at Indiana

I received the following response from a first year at Indiana's Kelley School:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

The official answer: While calculus is not required for admission, we've found that an understanding of analytical thinking and quantitative tools has a significant influence on success in the program. While we expect students to be competent in algebra, comfortable with the use of spreadsheets, and have basic knowledge of statistics, there are no prerequisites. Students from all academic backgrounds are welcome to apply.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

Not that I'm aware of.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

No, I thought we might see it in economics; however Kelley's perspective is to teach the class more from a managerial economics perspective. When I visited UNC they used calculus in their economics core class.

I took a business calculus course the semester immediately prior to graduate school and I found it be very helpful. A solid accounting and finance foundation is far more important; however I would take a calculus course if you have time to do so (medium low priority). My advice regarding spreadsheet preparation is to increase your speed and familiarity through use of shortcut keys / techniques. Many of the professors move quickly and you don't want to fall behind during class.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? Yes at MIT

I received responses from two current students at MIT Sloan:

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

Sloan assumes that you will be ready to go on all quantitative subjects when you start the program, though they do provide four days of pre-term review sessions.

Newly admitted students are advised to brush up on calculus, accounting and micro economics

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

Sloan has four days of pre-term review but I don't think it included any calculus.

There is a refresher class including calculus, statistics and accounting during pre-term done on campus.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

Yes, we used it in economics and in statistics.

Calculus was used briefly in Micro Economics (specifically using the 1st derivative of a function).

Personally I had never taken calculus before, so definitely needed to brush up--however I don't know how advanced the calculus was for someone who was familiar with the subject. For me finance and calculus were definitely the most important things to review, but I already had plenty of familiarity with spreadsheets and accounting.

I do suggest that prospective students brush up on calculus and algebra as well as accounting and finance. Here at MIT Sloan the curriculum is such that the first semester is intense with all the core requirements, hence waiting to refresh ones’ memory is relative depending on their academic backgrounds and length of time out of school. I would suggest giving MBA Math a high priority as it does not hurt to be overly prepared!

## Do MBAs Need Calculus? No at HBS

The answer from a first year at Harvard Business School is a resounding NO.

1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?

No.

2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?

No.

3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?

No. While some of the applications could have required calculus, the prof worked through the proofs for us, and told us to keep focus on the ‘big picture’ as opposed to the math.

## Do MBAs Need Calculus?

I hear this question a lot. So I put the questions below to some current MBA students at various top programs. I'll post their responses in a series of posts.

- Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?
- Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?
- Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?
- If yes to some of the above, would you recommend that prospective students interested in your program brush up on calculus before starting or just refresh their memories on the fly during their coursework? If you suggest advance prep, would you give it low, medium, or high priority relative to other pre-MBA preparation needs (e.g., spreadsheets, accounting, finance basics).

I welcome additional input from administrators, faculty, or current students.