As a student in Duke's MBA programs, you'll use the personal computer as a key tool, both for accomplishing a variety of analysis and presentation tasks and for communication. You should be very comfortable with communication and business software, particularly spreadsheet software, before you enter the program.
Which Classes Use Computing Skills?
Virtually all coursework and many of your communications will require a computer. Spreadsheet skills in particular are critical for any course that involves quantitative work.
Computing Skills You Need
- Familiarity with personal computing using a Windows type of interface (a mouse, menus, scroll bars, tool bars, dialog boxes, multiple open applications, etc.)
- A good understanding of computer housekeeping tasks (folder and file management, hard drive organization, software installation, backups and archiving, virus protection, etc.)
- Internet connectivity essentials.
- Intermediate or better skills with word processing, presentation graphics, and web browser tools.
- Intermediate or better ability using spreadsheet software to model and solve problems.
The Minimum Spreadsheet Skills You Need
In order to be successful using spreadsheet software in Duke's MBA programs, make sure you start your program already familiar with:
- Entering and copying information.
- Formatting (adding bolding, italics, colors, borders, etc.)
- Efficiently selecting, moving, and deleting information.
- The text-to-columns utility.
- Text file import.
- Range naming and the uses of range names.
- Finding and using functions in Excel's function library, especially logical functions.
- Writing formulas and good formula design practices.
- When and how to use absolute, relative, and mixed addressing.
- Cross-worksheet and cross-workbook referencing.
- Formula copying.
- Familiarity with the Excel Analysis Toolpak.
- Sorting and subtotaling.
- Building and using Excel's Data Table (both one-input and two-input).
- Excel's Goal Seek and Solver.
- Basic chart creation and customization.
- Familiarity with the XY chart and when to use it instead of another chart type.
- Print preview.
- Printing a specific range or ranges.
- Printing entire worksheets or workbooks.
- Header and footer generation.
Pre-program Preparation in Excel
Before the program begins you're strongly encouraged to work through the pre-program exercises in Excel that will be available to you on the Incoming Student Website. The program preparation includes exercises that cover proficiency in Excel, the use of Excel for regression and statistical analysis, Excel charting, tools for efficient data management in Excel, and practice with Excel forecasting tools. The exercises are specifically designed to prepare you for basic Excel work in Duke's MBA programs. The materials assume you're using Fuqua's current standard version of Excel, Excel 2010 running in a Windows environment.
In addition to the Duke MBA pre-program Excel review exercises, consider additional review on your own of MS Excel 2010 spreadsheet concepts. Suggested resources are listed below.
Microsoft Excel Exercises
Microsoft has made available a growing set of free, internet-based courses and tutorials introducing various features of Excel. These links on that page may be of particular interest:
If you're transitioning to the 2010 version of Excel:
If you'd like to use Excel tutorials:
- Excel 2010 Step by Step Chapters
- Microsoft Excel 2010 QuickSteps
- Excel 2010 Tutorials
- Get to Know Excel 2010: Create Your First Spreadsheet
If you want to learn the 2010 keyboard shortcuts: