Interdisciplinary Electives

Build the rich perspective employers want.

Leaders in a complex business world have exposure to diverse perspectives and skills in multiple disciplines. An MBA education should equip you with the business knowledge and the tools to navigate complex challenges by exposing you to new perspectives and ideas. 

Our corporate partners and hiring alumni have explicitly stated they're looking for leaders with multidimensional backgrounds. That's why we designed our Full-Time MBA program curriculum to include graduate courses outside the business school. Being able to both learn from faculty, and study alongside graduate students from other colleges is an opportunity that few other programs offer.   

I've been able to take interdisciplinary classes, which has had a huge impact on me by triggering new ways of thinking that I will apply in my career. For example, when starting a new venture, I focus not only on the business model and financial projections but also on the user experience. 

Comus Hardman, MBA'22

The curriculum requires six interdisciplinary (non-business) credits. With the support of your advisor, you can mix and match the material that excites you from an extensive list of courses across the six Northeastern graduate colleges. Another option is to focus your learning and earn an MBA x concentration, which consists of 12 credits in a single area of expertise that complements your business degree—from artificial intelligence to biotechnology and beyond. 

If you decide to concentrate your skillset by taking all your interdisciplinary electives in one area, you will have earned at least half of the credits needed to complete one of our twelve signature MBA x concentrations.  

Your next step?

Talk with your advisor today about the non-business courses and concentrations that align with your goals and interests that will make the biggest impact for you. 

College of Arts, Media, and Design Courses

Offers an overview and introduction to leadership knowledge areas, tools, and skills sets for the arts and culture sector. Key topics include issues and challenges in the management of arts-oriented organizations, leadership characteristics and techniques for arts and culture teams, balancing organizational priorities with artistic vision and values, board formation and management, audience outreach, and operational practices. Focuses on the administration of people and processes to communicate mission; realize goals; and effectively manage the creative resources, human resources, and financial challenges of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.
AACE 6000 | 3 credits
Introduces information visualization from theoretical and practical perspectives. Defines the information visualization domain and advances principles and methods for the effective visual representation of data. Contextualizes the field from a historical perspective. Presents the perceptual and cognitive tasks enabled by visualizations. Studies an extensive range of visualization models. Illustrates good and bad practices in visualization with real-world examples. Introduces concepts in computer programming in an information visualization context. .
ARTG 5150 | 3 credits
Introduces human visual cognition as it applies to information design and visualization. Focuses on perception, attention, pattern recognition, information acquisition, memory, and creation of mental models. Explores reasoning, cognition, decision making, and problem solving in relation to visual artifacts. Students who do not meet course restrictions may seek permission of instructor or program coordinator.
ARTG 5310 | 4 credits
Explores a systems-based perspective on our environment by addressing questions that are fundamental to design practice: What is a system, and what are the different types? How do we observe, analyze, and represent systems? What interactions can we have with systems and what are the different types of interaction? Explores structures and processes for the design of systemic relationships between people, artifacts, environments, and activities. Systems may be physical, virtual, social, or a combination. Through discussion, writing, diagramming, and project exercises, offers students an opportunity to learn principles of systems theory and explore the connection between design methods and systems thinking. Students who do not meet course restrictions may seek permission of instructor or program coordinator.
ARTG 5610 | 4 credits
Offers students hands-on project development of systems, artifacts, communication, environments, or service offerings with a focus on the unique personal experience of the audience exposed to the project. Experience design is a holistic approach to design that investigates the human experience in specific situations to improve its quality, given an understanding of human goals, needs, and desires. This course provides a context for a cohesive experience through interaction, movement, and understanding, which builds on previous knowledge of audiences and applications. Presents students with design methods and processes for experience design by developing a semester-long project. Offers students an opportunity to develop competency in tools used to create the various elements that create the context for experiences in specific situations and events including interaction, artifact, and environment design. Understanding a design process and knowledge of studio critique practices is recommended.
ARTG 5600 | 4 credits
Introduces the topic of game analytics, defined as the process of discovering and communicating patterns in data with a goal of solving problems and developing predictions in user behavior supporting decision management, driving action, and/or improving game products. Covers the fundamental tools, methods, and principles of game analytics, including the knowledge-discovery process, data collection, feature extraction and selection, pattern recognition to aid in prediction and churn analysis, visualization, and reporting. Covers analytics across game forms, notably online games and delivery platforms. Presents analytical tools recommended during development and tools designed for ongoing maintenance of games.
GSND 6350 | 4 credits
Introduces graphic design terminology and principles using software packages and leading desktop and web publishing programs. Covers how to plan a publication based on audience and budget. Design assignments include newspapers, magazines, brochures, advertisements, and corporate identity programs. Strict attention is paid to deadlines and quality of the printed publication.
JRNL 5311 | 4 credits
Examines the potential of interfaces as mediators between information and users. Explores iterative prototyping and research methods to analyze patterns of behavior and implications of interface on effective communication. Utilizes observation, empathy, ethnography, and participatory design methods to offer students an opportunity to increase their understanding of audiences' and stakeholders' motivations and expectations. Requires graduate standing or permission of program coordinator or instructor.
ARTG 6310 | 4 credits
Offers students an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of digital journalism and to place those skills within the context of a changing media environment. Studies multimedia tools within an intellectual framework—i.e., offers students an opportunity to learn hands-on skills and also to study best practices and theory. May include guest speakers and a consideration of the future of news. Requires students to produce a final project that consists of storytelling across a range of digital platforms.
JRNL 6340 | 4 credits
Provides theoretical background and foundation for analyzing and designing games. Examines fundamental domains that are necessary to understand what games are and how they affect players, including but not limited to interface design, level design, narrative, learning, and culture. Presents relevant concepts and frameworks from a wide variety of disciplines—psychology, phenomenology, sociology, anthropology, media studies, affect theories, learning theories, and theories of motivation—for each domain. Explains the core elements of game design, introduces students to formal abstract design tools, explores several models of design process and iteration, and offers students an opportunity to practice game design in groups.
GSND 5110 | 4 credits
Examines the relationships between content and context through mapping methods. Emphasizes the impact of geographic information systems, evolving technologies, community mapping tools, globalization, and delivery systems. Undergraduate students may seek permission of instructor.
ARTG 6330 | 4 credits
Examines various theoretical models of information visualization and delivery systems. Evaluates the concepts and effectiveness of the models through discussions and writing activities. Students who do not meet course prerequisites or restrictions may seek permission of program coordinator or instructor.
ARTG 6110| 4 credits
Examines time-tested and cutting-edge methods for shaping and presenting messages across multimedia platforms to effectively disseminate an organization's message, change a public conversation, or shift public opinion. Examines case studies in mainstream media, public advocacy, and strategic communications to explore the motivations and methods of the organizations as well as the tools and techniques used. Examines the practice of digital advocacy by exploring and applying pertinent findings from politics, advertising, and behavioral science that are increasingly employed by professionals looking to “micro-target” voters, “convert” customers, or “nudge” the public. One major component of the course is hands-on workshops through which students are offered an opportunity to learn how to leverage the latest digital tools for communicating across social media and online platforms.
JRNL 5400 | 4 credits
Examines theoretical foundations, concepts, and methods of visual notational systems used in the effective analysis and communication of existing experiences and in the envisioning of conditions for future experiences. Notational systems are sets of graphic signs and codes that denote or prescribe specific actions, forces, operations, events, or performances that occur over time. Students engage with concepts and models through readings, discussion, case study analyses, and speculative design projects. Evaluates the role that notational systems play in documenting, analyzing, and understanding the human goals, actions, behaviors, and perceptions key to experience and assesses their value in designing for agency and new experiences. Students who do not meet course restrictions may seek permission of instructor or program coordinator.
ARTG 5620 | 4 credits
Explores tools, technologies, and processes to create prototypes of artifacts, environments, and interactive systems for experience design projects. Offers students the opportunity to learn, use, experiment with, and test prototypes using a wide range of state-of-the-art prototyping technologies to further their understanding of multiple strategies and techniques of prototyping for experience design. Tools and techniques change over time but typically include laser cutting, 3D printing, CNC machining, electronics prototyping, augmented reality, machine tools and 2D forming, fast prototyping, and hand tools. .
ARTG 5640 | 4 credits
Explores select topics in data journalism and support data-driven storytelling projects of various kinds. Offers students an opportunity to learn how to navigate the often-competing demands of rigorous analysis and accessible narrative and storytelling. Course units are designed to foster moderate technical learning of applications and software, incorporate theories from relevant fields in data visualization and data science, and emphasize storytelling for broad public audiences.
JRNL 6341 | 4 credits
Requires advanced work to develop media skills not covered in other classes. May be repeated without limit.
JRNL 6305 | 4 credits
Introduces programming languages that allow computational analysis and digital delivery of dynamic information. Examines implications of environmental and personal sensor data sources, mobile collection and analysis of data, real-time networked data sets, and social use of shared data visualization tools. Students who do not meet course restrictions may seek permission of instructor or program coordinator. May be repeated once.
ARTG 5330 | 4 credits

Khoury College of Computer Sciences Courses

Introduces relational database management systems as a class of software systems. Prepares students to be sophisticated users of database management systems. Covers design theory, query language, and performance/tuning issues. Topics include relational algebra, SQL, stored procedures, user-defined functions, cursors, embedded SQL programs, client-server interfaces, entity-relationship diagrams, normalization, B-trees, concurrency, transactions, database security, constraints, object-relational DBMSs, and specialized engines such as spatial, text, XML conversion, and time series. Includes exercises using a commercial relational or object-relational database management system.
CS 5200 | 4 credits
Introduces the fundamental problems, theories, and algorithms of the artificial intelligence field. Topics include heuristic search and game trees, knowledge representation using predicate calculus, automated deduction and its applications, problem solving and planning, and introduction to machine learning. Required course work includes the creation of working programs that solve problems, reason logically, and/or improve their own performance using techniques presented in the course. Requires experience in Java programming.
CS 5100 | 4 credits
Discusses the practical issues and techniques for data importing, tidying, transforming, and modeling. Offers a gentle introduction to techniques for processing big data. Programming is a cross-cutting aspect of the course. Offers students an opportunity to gain experience with data science tools through short assignments. Course work includes a term project based on real-world data. Covers data management and processing—definition and background; data transformation; data import; data cleaning; data modeling; relational and analytic databases; basics of SQL; programming in R and/or Python; MapReduce fundamentals and distributed data management; data processing pipelines, connecting multiple data management and analysis components; interaction between the capabilities and requirements of data analysis methods (data structures, algorithms, memory requirements) and the choice of data storage and management tools; and repeatable and reproducible data analysis.
DS 5110 | 3 credits

College of Engineering Courses

Covers basics of Python and R for data mining and visualization. Introduces students to static and interactive visualization charts and techniques that reveal information, patterns, interactions, and comparisons by focusing on details such as color encoding, shape selection, spatial layout, and annotation. Based on these fundamentals of analytical thinking, emphasizes data visualization techniques and the use of current software tools that support data exploration; analytics-based storytelling and knowledge discovery; and decision making in engineering, healthcare operations, manufacturing, and related applications.
IE 6600 | 4 credits
Introduces data mining concepts and statistics/machine learning techniques for analyzing and discovering knowledge from large data sets that occur in engineering domains such as manufacturing, healthcare, sustainability, and energy. Topics include data reduction, data exploration, data visualization, concept description, mining association rules, classification, prediction, and clustering. Discusses data mining case studies that are drawn from manufacturing, retail, healthcare, biomedical, telecommunication, and other sectors.
IE 5640 | 4 credits
Explores environmental and economic aspects of different materials used in products throughout the product life cycle. Introduces concepts of industrial ecology, life cycle analysis, and sustainable development. Students work in teams to analyze case studies of specific products fabricated using metals, ceramics, polymers, or paper. These case studies compare cost, energy, and resources used and emissions generated through the mining, refining, manufacture, use, and disposal stages of the product life cycle. Debates issues in legislation (extended product responsibility, recycling mandates, and ecolabeling) and in disposal strategies (landfill, incineration, reuse, and recycling). Discusses difficulties associated with environmental impact assessments and the development of decision analysis tools to weigh the tradeoffs in technical, economic, and environmental performance, and analyzes specific case studies.
ME 5645 | 4 credits
Seeks to develop in-depth knowledge and experience in prototyping by focusing on engineering processes and instrumentation that are used in different industries. Studies the prototyping cycle, from initial process flow and sketching to prototype development to testing and analysis, with an emphasis on iteration. Analyzes how different kinds of engineering prototypes can address design and user-interface needs vs. functional needs, such as looks-like and works-like prototypes. Offers students an opportunity to obtain operating knowledge of methods including 3D printing, SolidWorks, off-the-shelf hardware-software interfaces, simulation, embedded systems, product testing, prototype analysis, and prototype iteration.
GE 5030 | 4 credits
Focuses on the main processes needed to develop a complex, high-technology product. Emphasizes the most important techniques and approaches used in a startup environment. Seeks to benefit students of all engineering disciplines including computer science and biomedical, industrial, electrical, mechanical, computer, and chemical engineering. Includes a running practical project in which a new product is designed and executed through a series of small projects for each phase of the product development process. Topics include the product life cycle, new product development processes, project planning and management, new product idea generation, the systems approach to product development, design for manufacturing, market testing and launch, and escalation to manufacturing.
GE 5100 | 4 credits
Offers topics of interest to the staff member conducting this class for advanced study. May be repeated without limit.
IE 7374 | 4 credits

College of Social Sciences and Humanities Courses

Offers an intensive study of econometric techniques applied to cross-section, time-series, and panel data. Applies the fundamentals of econometrics to analyzing structural economic models, forecasting, and policy analysis. Computer applications and an empirical research project are an integral part of the course.
ECON 5140 | 4 credits
Describes the legal and ethical issues associated with information security including access, use, and dissemination. Emphasizes legal infrastructure relating to information assurance, such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and Telecommunications Decency Act, and emerging technologies for management of digital rights. Examines the role of information security in various domains such as healthcare, scientific research, and personal communications such as email. Examines criminal activities such as computer fraud and abuse, desktop forgery, embezzlement, child pornography, computer trespass, and computer piracy.
CY 5240 | 4 credits
Explores the theoretical, political, and philosophical foundations of the obligations that underlie global justice. Theoretical approaches include human rights, human capabilities, cosmopolitanism, particularism, and universalism. Examines nationalism and the particular set of obligations that it generates. Following the theoretical component, the course considers social issues that arise in a global context: (1) the duties to the distant poor, (2) global philanthropy and problems of donee accountability, (3) global health and essential medicines and issues in environmental justice, and (4) issues in international law.
PHIL 5001 | 4 credits
Offers a comprehensive overview of resource development and financial management in nonprofit organizations. Topics include fund-raising and development planning, nonprofit budgeting and financial reporting, investments and earned income for nonprofits, and government contracting and grants.
PPUA 6553 | 4 credits

College of Science Courses

Focuses on the analytical methods used for the characterization of recombinant DNA-derived proteins for human therapeutic use. Combines the description of advanced analytical methods, in particular HPLC and mass spectrometry, with protein chemistry. An important aspect is the development of a method that can identify protein modifications that are present in a product as a result of biosynthetic modifications, contaminants, or degradative reactions. Provides an integrative overview of the role of analytical methods at the different stages of development and production of protein therapeutics including upstream (cell line development, cell culture), downstream (recovery and purifications), formulation development, stability studies, and clinical assay.
CHEM 7317 | 3 credits
Offers the first semester of a two-semester sequence on the use of computers in bioinformatics research. Offers students an opportunity to work with current methods and computational algorithms used in contemporary sequence analysis. Teaches practical skills necessary to manage and mine the vast biological information being generated and housed in public databases. Emphasizes the use of Python as the primary computer language and requires students to learn and understand basic computer logic and syntax, including an introduction to scalars, arrays, hashes, decision statements, loops, subroutines, references, and regular expressions. A focus on fundamental skills, including the command line interface found in the Linux operating system, is designed to prepare students for second-semester applications.
BINF 6308 | 4 credits
Designed to build upon the core topics covered in BINF 6308, i.e., use of the computer as a tool for bioinformatics research. Builds upon the Python language fundamentals covered during the first semester but requires students to apply these fundamentals to a semester-long project. The project includes protein family analysis, multiple sequence analysis, phylogeny, and protein structure analysis. Additionally, students have an opportunity to learn to build, load, connect, and query custom MySQL databases, and parse command line flags.
BINF 6309 | 4 credits
Focuses on the fundamental programming skills required in the bioinformatics industry. Focuses on Python and R as the main programming language used. Topics include string operations, file manipulation, regular expressions, object-oriented programming, data structures, testing, program design, and implementation. Includes substantial out-of-classroom assignments. .
BINF 6200 | 4 credits
Covers the principles and concepts involved in the development of mammalian and other types of cell culture processes for the manufacturing of biopharmaceutical products such as monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins. Topics include protein expression and clone generation, batch and perfusion processes and media development, bioreactor operations and scale-up, and innovations in cell culture processes. Regulatory concepts include quality assurance in a cGMP environment.
BIOT 5631 | 3 credits
Explores the principles of experimental design and statistical analysis. Emphasizes research in the molecular and biological sciences and biotechnology. Topics include probability theory, sampling hypothesis formulation and testing, and parametric and nonparametric statistical methods.
BIOT 6214 | 2 credits
Provides an interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art introduction to biotechnology to students of the Master of Science in Biotechnology program. Covers the molecular foundations of biotechnology, molecular microbiology, receptor pharmacology, drug development processes, biotech process development and scale-up, drug approval and regulatory affairs, genomics, microarray analysis, proteomics, computational biology, molecular modeling, analytical biotechnology, and bioterrorism and biotechnology.
BIOT 5120 | 3 credits

School of Law Courses

Designed to familiarize master's degree students with the essential ideas and methods of microeconomics and their application to a wide range of domestic public policy issues at the national, state, and local level. Emphasizes the role of program and management incentives in influencing behavior and policy outcomes. Focuses on understanding the ideas of microeconomic theory and applying them to a range of alternative public policy issues. Offers students an opportunity to develop a clear understanding of essential economic ideas and how the economic perspective can be applied to a wide range of public policy issues. Restricted to master's degree students only.
LPSC 6313 | 4 credits