MBA Candidates Give High Marks to Training in Creative Thinking

Preliminary findings of the 2005 Benchmark Study on Creativity and Innovation Curricula Among…

Georgia (Nov 7, 2005) — MBA Candidates Give High Marks to Training in Creative Thinking

Terri Thornton


Media contact: Terri Thornton‚ 404−932−4347‚

Preliminary findings of the 2005 Benchmark Study on Creativity and Innovation Curricula Among American Business Schools reveal that many MBA programs are not keeping up with the increasing need for creativity training.

“There is a preponderance of popular and scholarly literature supporting the notion that creative thinking and innovation are becoming the new core competency for corporate growth‚ and that a company's greatest asset may be its creative capital‚” said Gary Selden‚ Ph.D.‚ co−director of the Creativity & Innovation Project at the Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University‚ which performed the study. “Our survey shows that business schools have not kept up with this trend‚” Selden added.

Selden and center co−director Harry Vardis recently completed the first−ever survey of creativity and innovation training among MBA and Executive MBA programs. They received responses from 117 accredited business schools’ MBA and EMBA program directors nationwide.

Preliminary results show that only about half of the MBA programs teach some type of elementary creativity and innovation module or course‚ and only one−third of these business schools have freestanding courses. Those not offering training in creative thinking cite the lack of trained faculty and limited curriculum time. Many say they do not see the value of the offering. Yet the program directors report that more than two−thirds of the students in schools where creativity training is offered rank it among their top ten most valuable courses.

Ironically‚ the courses are most often offered through the management‚ rather than marketing departments.

“This is surprising‚ considering the challenge of developing new products and ever more creative marketing strategies‚” Selden said.

Almost all the business schools offer the courses or modules at the end of the program‚ rather than at the beginning‚ despite anecdotal evidence that the training delivers the most promising results when offered early in the program.

“Creativity and innovation programs help foster risk−taking‚ collaborative thinking‚ team development and ‘thinking out of the box‚’” Vardis said.

While some business schools are beginning to see the value of such courses‚ many do not. Among the schools lacking a course or module in creative thinking‚ 59% are likely to offer a course or module within the next five years‚ but 41% have no such plans. This is despite findings of a 2003 Harris Interactive survey of recruiters who rated business schools and student attributes. The results showed that corporate recruiters felt the top−most criteria recruiters used forselecting schools and graduates were “communications and interpersonal skills‚” “ability to work within a team” and “problem solving skills”. These specific attributes are among the goals of creativity and innovation training.
“While many business schools see the value that creative thinking training offers in problem−solving‚ teamwork and innovative thinking‚ others still have a long way to go‚” concluded Vardis.


Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of 18‚500 from 132 countries. The third largest state university out of 35 institutions in the University System of Georgia‚ KSU offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Fact sheet

2005 Benchmark Study on Creativity and Innovation Curricula Among American Business Schools − Preliminary results

53% of traditional MBA programs and 48% of Executive MBA programs have a freestanding course or module in creativity and innovation.
Of these‚ only one−third have freestanding courses.
Only 2.5% of the responding programs teach creativity and innovation at the beginning of their programs; 92% offer creativity instruction at the middle or end of their programs.
~60% of the creativity training is taught through management departments. Only ~3% of the training is offered through marketing departments.
~67% of students rank creativity instruction among their top 10 courses compared to all courses taken
~59% of the schools without a creativity course or module are likely‚ to very highly likely‚ to offer one within five years.
~41% of the schools without a creativity course or module have no plans to offer creativity training.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit