What is the structure of the MBA program at the Center for Brand & Product Management? How long does it take to complete?

The Wisconsin MBA program in Brand and Product Management is a two-year, full-time program. The first year of the program consists primarily of core general business requirements, along with your first two courses focused on brand and product management topics. The majority of the courses in the second year of the program are brand and product management-related; students may also take as many as six academic electives.

Virtually all classes are offered during the day or on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays along with the occasional early evening. Formal classes are not scheduled on Fridays at the Center for Brand and Product Management, though that time is often used for our Applied Learning sessions.

Why should I go to a center focused on brand and product management? Will I be too limited?

There are some excellent reasons to consider the Center for Brand and Product Management, the first university-based program focused on training MBA's in brand and product management. First of all, if you’re interested in brand/product management as a post-MBA career, the Center’s combination of focused study, real-world experiences, direct contact with industry executives and personal attention will provide you with an ideal jump-start.

Additionally, if your aim (like many MBA students) is to someday become a CEO, general manager or entrepreneur, the Center also offers you an outstanding opportunity. It's an exceptional marketing MBA. Product management requires a breadth of business skills and management ability. It’s an ideal way to move toward the goal of being a general manager.

Why should I consider the Center for Brand and Product Management?

If you are interested in brand and product management, and you want to get an exciting, challenging job right out of school, you should take a close look at the Center. Our Center’s students have a 100% placement record in their field. That means that every student has received offers of full-time and summer jobs in brand and product management by the time they graduate.

That success stems in part from our ability to focus and prepare you well for a brand management career. It also speaks to the commitment of our Advisory Board executives to working with our students to ensure that they’re prepared and have the opportunity to get top-notch jobs.

What is the focus of the MBA curriculum at the Center for Brand & Product Management?

The Wisconsin MBA is uniquely structured with its focused approach to specialized business disciplines. Our programs are specifically designed for students with clear career goals.  This approach offers the “ Center experience” to every MBA student, in their area of specialization/interest.

The MBA curriculum combines both general management skills and career expertise through General Business Core classes, such as Financial Management, Operations, and Business Strategy, and career specialization courses, such as New Product Development and Brand Strategy.  Each area has been designed specifically to deliver the skills prized by top-tier firms.

Learn more about our curriculum>>

How does this program differ from other, more traditional MBA programs?

The Wisconsin MBA program looks like a cross-functional company that an MBA student would encounter when he or she graduates.  The eight endowed Centers of expertise, such as the Center for Brand and Product Management, Center for Applied Corporate Finance, and the Center for Operations and Technology Management, allow for an infusion of real experience, better career connections and ultimately career success.  The Wisconsin brand management MBA aims to equip each candidate with general management skills as well as significant expertise needed to give them an early edge in their careers. That is accomplished through:

  • Hands-on attention
  • Special exposure through Applied Learning experience
  • Access to Advisory Board companies
  • Smaller class size

What teaching methods are used?

Throughout the entire program, teaching methods will vary by course—and by topic within each course—to provide effective learning that our students can carry with them to future courses and careers. Our faculty members determine whether to use lectures, discussions, case studies, computer simulations, group projects, presentations by business leaders, or combinations of methods to best deliver the educational experience.

What are the types of marketing classes I can take?

Together with others who have chosen the Center for Brand and Product Management, you will be immersed in the study of marketing and brand management. Classes such as Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior, New Product Development and Brand Strategy are designed especially for brand and product management students and build in a coherent fashion over two years. 

The required marketing classes include: Marketing Management; Marketing Research; Price & Product Management; Consumer Behavior; Brand Strategy; and Marketing Channels. There are a number of elective marketing classes, including Qualitative Marketing Insights; Retail Management; Sales Management; and Global Marketing.

Will I receive a strong foundation in subjects not relating to marketing?

The first semester, the general business core delivers a coordinated perspective on key functional areas of business. The second semester addresses fundamental management concepts and principles, stressing application of these principles to functional areas. Courses in strategy and ethics provide important perspective for business decision-making and are positioned in the second year due to their integrative nature that ties back to fundamentals.

Students take all their core business classes as part of a cohort of 40 to 50 other MBA students. Each cohort is composed of a mix of career specializations to mirror a cross-functional team within an organization.

Do I have the opportunity to take classes outside the MBA program?

MBA students are allowed and encouraged to take electives outside the MBA program. This allows them to explore specific areas of interest through ample elective credits at departments across campus, including healthcare policy, engineering, foreign language, or athletic courses.

What is Applied Learning?

The Applied Learning program provides students with an inside view of brand & product management through a series of seminars, generally held on Fridays,led by executives with years of experience in brand management and related areas. The topics covered are relevant to brand management careers. Some examples would be Advertising Development, Ethnographic Insights, Strategic Product Repositioning, and Persuasive Selling. Many of the sessions include a hands-on, real-world experience. For example, this year, students from the Center for Brand and Product Management participated in a day-long workshop at Kraft Foods, working with syndicated data.  The training session they completed was the same one given to incoming brand managers.

Our students also participate in activities that provide personal and professional development, such as Interview and Resume Skills, Principle-Based Decision Making, Leadership through Team Building, and a variety of MBA case competitions that the Center helps fund. 

Learn more about Applied Learning events held at the Center>>

Does the Center offer international learning opportunities?

An international trip is sponsored by the Center for Brand and Product Management during the winter break between semesters. In recent years, our students have visited a series of companies in Sao Paolo, Brazil; Argentina; and, Beijing and Shanghai, China. Companies we've visited have included: Procter & Gamble/Gillette, Yahoo, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, SC Johnson, and Walmart.  Organized by students from the Center, with significant financial support from the Center, this offering provides opportunities for students to gain intensive exposure to foreign markets, companies and cultures. Learn More>>

Are there student marketing organizations I can join?

There are numerous student organizations at the School of Business, including the Entrepreneurship Association, Graduate Business Association, Graduate Woman in Business, Net Impact, and the Consortium Club. These groups enable our students to broaden their learning and expand their professional contacts.

The Graduate Marketing Network (GMN) encourages excellence in marketing among graduate students, faculty and practicing professionals. The GMN sponsors the always-thrilling and endurance-testing Marketing Challenge. Six 4-person teams are given a case and 48 hours to develop a case solution and present their results. The challenge tests the teams’ marketing expertise, presentation skills, and the ability to think on their feet in front of seasoned marketing professionals from Guidant, Grainger, and Kraft Foods.

Learn more about our student organizations>>

Who is on the Advisory Board at the Center for Brand and Product Management?

Our Advisory Board includes high-level marketing executives from well-known companies, including General Mills, Grainger, Guidant, Intuit, Kao Brands, Johnson & Johnson, S.C. Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, Lindsey, Stone & Briggs, Procter & Gamble and ConAgra. The board members include a number of alumni from the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Learn more about our Advisory Board members>>

Can you describe the student interaction with the Advisory Board members?

The students at the Center for Brand and Product Management benefit from the support and involvement of an Executive Advisory Board of professionals from leading brand and product management companies. These executives share real-world expertise with students through seminars and career guidance. They have a hands-on role in assisting with career decisions and with student placement in internships and permanent positions.

The Advisory Board convenes once a semester for two days of activities, shared learning and networking. Many board members lead or participate in the applied learning events sponsored by the Center. In addition, students often have informal opportunities to talk with and learn from the Advisory Board members. The Advisory Board is committed to ensuring the success of the students at the Center.

What resources are provided to help students find the jobs they want?

We work with you all the way through the process to ensure your success. We start from the time you arrive at the Center, polishing your resume and interviewing skills and looking at your interests and career goals. The Center and the School of Business brings in a great variety of first-rate companies interested in recruiting our students. And our Advisory Board and staff work with you personally to ensure you get the opportunity to speak with the kinds of companies you’re looking for.

Throughout the process, you receive individual attention and assistance to guide you toward an exciting position and a successful career.

Will I end up with a good position after I complete the program at the Center?

Based on our past experience, the answer is likely to be “yes!”  We are proud to say that 100% of our students have gotten full-time jobs and summer internships in desirable brand and product management positions. Many students see their summer internships translate into full-time offers. Their hard work in the program, and all the effort from the Center to support their career search, has really paid off.

What are the opportunities for recruitment outside the companies on the Advisory Board?

Aside from the personal attention you get from our directors and the Advisory Board Members, the Wisconsin MBA Career Services helps to make your career success possible. Their team is eager to help you develop and enhance the skills you will need to successfully manage your independent job search and your future career.  They provide seminars on topics ranging from resume development to effective networking and a variety of workshops for MBA students hosted by alumni and industry professionals are offered throughout the two years of your program.

What’s it like in Madison, Wisconsin? Will I enjoy living there?

Madison, a city of about 210,000 people (with an international student population of about 43,000) has a reputation as a great place to live, work and study. Madison has received a list of accolades a mile long. We think you’ll love it! There are many reasons why.

One big reason is Madison’s abundant nature and opportunities for outdoor activities. Madison’s location on several lakes offers plenty of chances for sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, waterskiing, ice skating, and ice fishing. With numerous parks, bike trails and hiking/skiing trails, you can enjoy the outdoors year-round. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy more than twenty golf courses in the area, including PGA-caliber University Ridge, owned and operated by the University of Wisconsin. 

The arts, always vibrant in Madison, have received a big boost in recent years with the opening of the initial phases of the Overture Center for Performing Arts. This facility came about through a $205 million gift from local businessman W. Jerome Frautschi (widely considered to be the largest single donation to an arts center in the United States). The city is home to a symphony orchestra, an opera company, and several theater groups. Many musical events are also available through the university and by visiting performers. Within an hour's drive is American Player's Theater, a nationally recognized outdoor theater that presents Shakespeare and other classics in the summer and fall.

Madison has a large number of restaurants, featuring many types of ethnic food. Food-lovers will also enjoy the weekly Farmer’s Market, with hundreds of stands around the Capital Square. This market is the country’s biggest producer-only market, with all products grown in Wisconsin. 

Add to that the many Big 10 sporting events and activities at the University of Wisconsin, and you’ve got a place with plenty to do and enjoy.