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Structure and content

Programme contents

USB's MBA consists of 18 compulsory modules and various electives. The compulsory modules include the Research Assignment and the International Study Module. Please note that USB reserves the right to modify the contents of subjects and to combine subject matter for better integration of learning areas. This is in the interest of continuous improvement of the curriculum. 


The compulsory MBA modules
Accounting for Decision-Making (8 credits)
Business Communication Skills (4 credits)
Business in Society (8 credits)
Contemporary Decision-Making (12 credits)
Corporate Finance (12 credits)
Digital Enterprise Management (8 credits)
Economics for Managers (8 credits)
Human Capital Management (8 credits)
Integrated Case Studies (8 credits)
International Study Module (8 credits)
Operational Excellence (8 credits)
Perspectives on African Frontiers (8 credits)
Managerial Accounting (8 credits)
Managerial Statistics (8 credits)
Research Methodology and Assignment (45 credits)
Strategic Management (12 credits)
Strategic Marketing and Branding (8 credits)
Leadership Development (16 credits)


Choose electives to acquire areas of specialisation
Students can choose two electives from an extensive list of topics. The electives are clustered into themes:
·         Innovation
·         Technology
·         Operations
·         Strategy
·         Marketing
·         Leadership
·         Finance
·         Project management
·         Entrepreneurship
·         Other / Management enhancement

USB is introducing two new MBA streams over and above its generalist MBA stream. The new streams are:
MBA stream in Managing International Organisations (MBA MIO), which can be applied in both for-profit and non-profit international organisations and in international development agencies. This degree is jointly presented by USB and senior UN leaders.
MBA stream in Health Care Leadership (MBA HCL), which can be applied in the public and private health care to industry. This stream will benefit high achievers who want to lead positive change in the complex and changing health care environment.
Use the International Study Module to grow a global mind-set
All MBA students need to do a compulsory MBA International Study Module (various options) at a foreign business school to enhance their international exposure. The cost of this module is included in the MBA study fees.
Gain business knowledge through the Research Assignment
Concurrent with the MBA and building on the content of the MBA, students should write a Research Assignment of 50 to 70 pages on a management-related problem. The research assignment serves as an example of how to handle business challenges by following a robust research process. This experience also gives students the ability to make a value judgement on research presented at managerial level in the workplace.
Optional: Exchange studies abroad
MBA students can choose to complete part of their studies at one of USB’s overseas partner schools. This will enable them to earn credits towards the USB MBA by doing a module or summer school abroad. Exchange studies are optional.

Please note that USB reserves the right to modify the contents of subjects and to combine subject matter for better integration of learning areas. This is in the interest of continuous improvement of the curriculum.

Specialisation and management enhancement opportunities include the compulsory MBA International Module at an overseas business school as well as a range of electives and exchange study options from which students may choose to add areas of specialisation based on individual interests. This phase represents approximately 10% of the USB MBA.


Students have to do three electives in their final year. The electives vary from year to year, depending on the subjects chosen by students and the availability of lecturers. The following electives have been offered recently:

  • Applied Change Leadership
  • Breakthrough Start-up Entrepreneurship
  • Building Future Markets
  • Business Forecasting
  • Business Strategy in Emerging and Frontier Markets
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Customer Experience Leadership
  • Derivative Instruments
  • Doing Business in Africa: opportunities, obstacles and challenges
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Environmental Finance
  • Financial Risk Management
  • Global Business Strategy
  • Innovating for the Bottom of the Pyramid
  • International Finance
  • International Marketing
  • Internet Advertising
  • Leading and Managing Customer Service Excellence
  • Leader as Coach
  • Management Consulting
  • Managing Knowledge for Strategic Effectiveness
  • Marketing Metrics
  • Portfolio Management
  • Project Management
  • Sustainable Enterprise

Research assignment

Concurrent to the MBA and building on the content of the MBA, students will write a research assignment of 50 to 70 pages on a business or management-related problem. The research assignment is usually finalised after completion of the lecture programme. Students will also be required to present their findings orally to the USB community.

These assignments are practice-oriented and may be based on the student’s working environment, thus benefiting the employer and student. Research approaches may include case studies, feasibility/business plans, marketing plans, strategic plans, econometric research, exploratory studies and studies based on surveys and/or interviews.

Further information

 PDF of comprehensive MBA brochure in English [Read]

The USB reserves the right to modify the contents of subjects and to combine subject matter for better integration of learning areas. This is in the interest of continuous improvement of the curriculum.

Further information

 PDF of comprehensive MBA brochure in English [Read]

The USB reserves the right to modify the contents of subjects and to combine subject matter for better integration of learning areas. This is in the interest of continuous improvement of the curriculum.

Further information

 PDF of comprehensive MBA brochure in English [Read]

The USB reserves the right to modify the contents of subjects and to combine subject matter for better integration of learning areas. This is in the interest of continuous improvement of the curriculum.

​​This phase prepares students to operate in a business environment by covering the basic tools and frameworks required for business decision-making. The detailed content of the basic management tools is defined by that which is required in the Management in Context phase (Phase 2). The following modules are delivered during this phase:

  • ​Dimensions of proper communication; self-reading on verbal communication skills; oral presentations techniques and resources; adaptive assessments of individual presentation skills; self-reading on professional written communication with emphasis on report-writing; continuous feedback and adaptive assessment of report-writing skills; self-study of resources supplied to acquire proficiency in office productivity software and the US enterprise collaboration software; information literacy, dealing with the proper methods of finding, using, passing value judgements upon, and referencing information resources.

  • Background to management theory – the value chain; competitive forces and positioning; market dynamics; the manager’s functions in a dynamic, interrelated and continuously changing work environment; global management issues; principles of strategic decision-making; a world view of the information age; analysis of complex problems through systems thinking; systemic principles and methods of organisational development; the case method as a mechanism to explore complexity and cross-functional characteristics of business challenges.

  • ​Elements of cost and cost systems; break-even analysis; budgeting control; cost behaviour, variance analysis; in-depth analysis and interpretation of financial statements of listed South African industrial companies; focus on cash-flow analysis and management of working capital; traditional ratio analysis; value-added statements and analysis of historical performance reviews.

  • This module deals with the mastery of the scientific skills underlying business and management research. These skills must be applied in developing a research topic and in selecting a research design that is suitable to answer the specific research question. The design must be documented in the form of a final research proposal, and must be defended before a panel of academics. This module includes the logic of the research process and the different forms of reasoning; stages in the research process; formulating the research question; conceptualisation, sampling, and data collection. This module includes a focus on qualitative research aspects.​

  • ​The meaning of economics and economic systems, and how economics influences all stakeholders in society; the meaning and challenges of globalisation and international economic integration, especially with regard to an open developing economy; the application of the principles of supply and demand in a market economy; the implications of the interaction between changes in one or more of a wide range of macroeconomic forces; economic growth and development; inflation; unemployment; the balance of payments and exchange rates; the reasoning behind economic policy decisions, and the impact of such decisions on the managerial function.

  • ​Data, data collection and description; probability theory; probability distributions; sampling and sample distributions; statistical estimation; hypothesis testing; linear programming; model formulation, solution and sensitivity analysis; integer programming; goal programming; critical path methods; simulation; decision theory.​

  • Personal Authentic Leadership: Orienta¬tion and Context; Personal Leadership Edge; Personal Mastery and Emotional Intelligence; Individual Ethical Decision-making; Multi-cultural Sensitivity; Personal Identity/Culture/History.

    Leading with Others: Valuing and Lead¬ing Diversity; High-impact Leadership and Teaming.

    Leading the Organisation: Organisantional Change; Corporate Governance; Diversity within Organisations; High-permformance People Management Practices; Employment Relations; Negotiation.

  • ​The theory, process, implementation and evaluation of strategic management; industry, competitive, and environmental analyses in an unpredictable operating environment; internal analysis (value chain, processes, differentiation, segmentation, assessment of internal resources and capacity), goal-setting (articulating and prioritising organisational objectives and designing measurable, operational goals across the organisation), and formulating strategy (optimising value chain activities, implementing change); link between allocation of resources/budgets and strategic plan; evaluating performance using multi-dimensional tracking models such as the Balanced Scorecard and feedback loops, evaluating difficult-to-quantify, non-financial goals; designing action plans; differentiation between competitive business strategy and corporate strategy; managing stakeholders and interest groups; leadership, role of key decision-makers and specifically the role of the CEO and middle managers; entrepreneurial action-orientation; managing innovation; risk; entrepreneurial initiatives; military strategy; social enterprise and non-profit management; driving the organisation forward where the margins between private enterprise, government and the social sector are becoming increasingly blurred; integrated, cross-disciplinary cases; business simulations.

  • ​Competition and operations management of global organisations; demand management; order fulfilment process; volume and variety; e-commerce and the impact on operations, technology and productivity; operations and information quality; the global supply chain and information; the information resource; managing information technology to deliver strategy; enterprise systems; managerial decision-making and knowledge management; information strategies; technology challenges and future trends.

  • ​The role of marketing in society and its impact on both consumers and producers; consumerism and customer centricity and its relationship to all parts of the business; the central role of marketing in the organisation; the principles of marketing; the marketing concept and process; consumer behaviour and the concept of value; directional strategies, including segmentation, target market selection and positioning (STP); branding; marketing strategy including the traditional marketing mix (4Ps) and the expanded marketing mix (7Ps); formulation, implementation and control of a marketing plan.

  • ​International economics; international trade law and trade blocks; managing in the international environment; emerging economies and growth strategies; global environment for companies; internationalisation of companies; and legal framework for internationalisation.

  • ​This module equips students with the necessary awareness and models pertaining to the role of business in society as a positive force, one which builds value for the broadest definition of stakeholders in an ethical way as well as in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

  • ​The aims and functions of financial management; financial analysis; management of working capital; financial markets; strategic investment and financing decisions; dividends; cost of capital, risk and required rate of return; valuation and take overs; an introduction to derivative instruments.