I have a doctorate already and have circled back to complete an MBA. My doctorate is in another discipline.

My MBA program just told me that, rather than using the proposed course numbers for an analytics track, they will be using the repeatable "Special Topics" 5000 number.

For example:

  1. MBA 5510 Data Warehouses will now be MBA 5000 Data Warehouses

  2. MBA 5520 Advanced Queries will now be MBA 5000 Advanced Queries

  3. MBA 5530 Advanced Data Mining will now be MBA 5000 Adv Data Mining

Our course catalog lists MBA 5000 as "Special Topics" and it is shown as repeatable. I am not sure whether my transcript would reflect special topics or the original course title, but I will end up with four instances of the MBA 5000 course number on my transcript.

As someone involved in an academic career, should I be wary of this change? Will other institutions scrutinize the use of this repeatable "Special Topics" course number and/or name?


2 Answers 2


Anyone who cares what these courses are will know what a Special Topics course is, i.e. that it's a course placeholder in the scheduling and reservation system for courses that may be taught infrequently or even once, and ask you about the topic(s). This is a very common construct at universities in the US that I am familiar with, and shouldn't be a problem for you since you will have an opportunity to tell them what the topics were.

  • Yeah, in the schools I've taught at "placeholder" course numbers are common. We had, for instance, a WNM-500 course that was a completely different subject from section to section.
    – Raydot
    Feb 28, 2017 at 21:48

You could start by checking with the registrar's office to find out if the transcript will show the specific topic of each of these courses or whether it will just show "5000 Special Topics."

e.g. on our campus you'd actually get "5000 Special Topics: Advanced Queueing Theory."

I doubt that anyone would care about the difference between a special topics course with the topic of Advanced Queueing Theory and a regular course in Advanced Queueing Theory if the transcript showed the specific topic.

It's possible that someone might be concerned about your taking "Special Topics" with no specific topic mentioned, but even that shouldn't be much of an issue if you're applying for an academic position.

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