Having just been accepted to Harvard Business School, I knew I would soon be surrounded by a sea of people who were masters of disciplines completely foreign to me. And the languages they would speak were economics, finance, and accounting. Interest coverage ratio? Cross-price elasticity? EBITDA?

This made me nervous. And knowing full well I would be expected to keep up with the demanding course load despite my non-business background motivated me to do something about it. So when I was introduced to HBS Online's CORe program as a structured way to prepare for the MBA curriculum, it was an easy decision to enroll.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but HBS Online blew me away. It was crystal clear how every concept being taught applied to tangible business situations because that’s how it was presented—through real examples. In fact, this aspect of HBS Online was a nice introduction to how material is taught at HBS using the case method.

The structure of the online platform was also central to why HBS Online was so effective for me. I had never before seen a group of people so engaged in not only learning the material themselves but also ensuring no question posed by the group was left unanswered. This atmosphere made it comfortable to ask questions and motivated me to help answer others’ when I could.

Credential of Readiness (CORe) - Master the fundamentals of business. Learn more.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the MBA courses at HBS effectively assume students already know most of what’s covered in HBS Online's CORe program. So without HBS Online, there’s no doubt I would have struggled. I even used my Financial Accounting notes during a few HBS final exams. And I still recall Ace Ticket when thinking of creative ways to capture a customer’s full willingness to pay.

Finally, HBS Online has continued to pay dividends even after completing my first year at HBS. I recently launched a startup-focused podcast and have found myself utilizing many of the tools I learned through HBS Online, like assessing market demand for a new product and executing effective A/B tests.

If you’re considering completing CORe prior to beginning an MBA program and you don’t have a background in economics, finance, accounting, and statistics, I strongly recommend it. It was certainly worthwhile for me.

Are you interested in developing a foundation in business? Explore how our CORe program can prepare you for an MBA.

Chris Hutchens

About the Author

Chris is pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School and is the creator of Founders Unfiltered, a podcast that interviews founders to expose the fears, mistakes, and vulnerabilities associated with starting a company.

Prior to HBS, Chris was an engineer designing medical devices for Johnson & Johnson. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science & Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and is motivated to help people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.