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A methodology for teaching

Integrative Thinking in the Rotman MBA Curriculum
Integrative Thinking in the Rotman MBA Curriculum

A model-based problem-solving approach

Integrative Thinking is the foundation of the Rotman School’s pedagogy. It is a discipline for defining and solving business problems through the use of explicit models. Rotman students learn how to build and use models to frame, structure, analyze and solve real-world business problems.

By making models that are often kept implicit explicit and precise, Integrative Thinking teaches students to be precise about the hypotheses they formulate, their evaluation of those hypotheses and the solutions they recommend based on their acceptance or rejection of those hypotheses.  While our students are still trained in the traditional functional areas of business - strategy, operations, accounting, finance, marketing, human resources and leadership – and  the traditional disciplines of business school academia - economics, psychology, sociology, operations research - their training in model-based problem-solving provides them with the skills to carefully and rigorously approach complex real-world problems which do not neatly fit into these pre-defined categories.

The first-year Full-Time MBA curriculum is anchored by a set of foundational courses that introduce a set of models and methods for thinking through managerial and organizational problems from first principles, followed by a suite of courses offering in-depth exposure to the specific languages and problems arising in tradional business fields. This is then capped by a unique practicum course in which you will use the models and methods introduced during the first year to solve real business problems, in real time, with real feedback. The new pedagogy—unique among business school curricula—takes a decisive step beyond pre-packaged case materials and textbooks to give you the applied, hands-on expertise at solving the problems of business that will constitute a unique and valuable differentiator in your business career.


Rotman also teaches Integrative Thinking in Executive Education, Morning and Evening MBA, and the Full Time MBA Program (see below).


Model-Based Decision Making (foundation term, first year)

The notion that problem solving derives from mental models is at the core of Integrative Thinking. This course aims to develop your skills at formulating models of business situations to prepare you for applying these skills in your other core classes, and, ultimately, to make you a better, more sophisticated business decision maker.

Integrating Models and Data (foundation term, first year)

Businesses have access to an unprecedented amount of data. The objective of this course is to provide students with the skills they need to use data to inform decision making. In particular, students will learn to think carefully, critically, and creatively about data, to use data to build and test models, and then to use this combination of models and data to solve business problems.

Capstone Project (capstone term, first year)

This course provides students with the opportunity to apply model-based decision making to a current or recent business problem. The course begins by introducing the students to “predicaments”: the types of vague and poorly articulated problems that are frequently encountered in business settings. Alternating between lectures, student presentations and coaching sessions, the course then teaches students how to translate predicaments into well-defined problems and how to analyze those problems using the modeling and data-analysis skills they have developed throughout the first-year. The Capstone represents the culmination of the first-year curriculum as it allows students to experience in real-time and through a real-world problem how the explicit and systematic use of models and data can improve business decision-making.