In recent years, MBA programs have increased the number of experiential learning opportunities for students, who value real-world experiences as much as formal qualifications.
At a number of business schools, experiential learning has always been a strength of their MBA programs, but it’s the case study method that has underpinned management education for the past several decades.
That is now changing as students demand more opportunities to apply academic theory in the real world, though schools stress that it’s a blend of theory and practice that is the gold standard of MBA teaching.
But course administrators also acknowledge that experiential projects are a safe space for students to learn and practice skills so that they are polished and confident when they apply them in their future, post-MBA career. It’s also an opportunity for reflection, so that the students become more discerning leaders.
And, most importantly, experiential learning helps students become more marketable for the job market, and better at showcasing their talents and skills to prospective employers.
The types of projects can vary, but most schools offer consulting projects, with students helping to solve a real company’s business challenges. Traditionally, overseas projects have been a highlight of the MBA experience for many students, but the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions have limited the opportunities for students to join the jet-set. Still, ample opportunities still exist.
Stern leverages its unique location in New York City to facilitate opportunities for MBA students to solve real-world business problems. MBA students can, for instance, immerse themselves in an early-stage technology company, or work in partnership with a company to solve their most critical branding challenges. In addition, students can join the board of a nonprofit organization.View School Profile
Experiential projects form a vital part of the Cambridge Judge learning experience, allowing students to put their classroom learning to the test. The Global Consulting Project (GCP) is a highlight of the Cambridge MBA for many participants, who are assigned to a diverse team to carrying out a market analysis for a UK-based company.View School Profile
Experiential learning has been a strength of the Georgetown MBA for three decades since it created the Global Business Experience consulting project. In recent years, Georgetown has added numerous other experiential opportunities. For example, the Executive Challenge is now in its fifth year. Student teams present business cases to panels of executive-level alumni.View School Profile
The Darden MBA program offers its students numerous opportunities to get out of the classroom and gain hands-on experience with real companies, both in the US and abroad. This includes global immersion courses, a chance to visit another country and sample its business practices and cultures first-hand. The school helps subsidize the cost of travel, making such opportunities more accessible.View School Profile
Students at Stanford GSB can choose from a variety of experiential opportunities to enhance their learning experience. On the Social Entrepreneurship Program, students work with faculty to develop a social venture idea and turn it into a reality after graduation. Students can also practice investing for both financial returns and measurable social and environmental impact by helping out in the Stanford GSB Impact Fund.View School Profile
Copenhagen Business School strives to teach outside the box, with its long tradition of action-based learning and experiential opportunities. The institution offers a number of simulations in its strategy courses and also overseas projects that focus on developing soft skills, team dynamics, leadership and communications skills.View School Profile
Experiential learning has been an integral component of the MBA experience at Berkeley for more than 25 years. The school draws on its deep relationships with leading innovators and technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, nationally and internationally to offer hands-on projects in more than half of its elective courses. Students can also choose from nearly 20 Applied Innovation courses, working on consulting projects with major firms.View School Profile
At MIT Sloan, experiential learning is at the core of the MBA experience. Through Action Learning Labs, students work with a wide array of organizations both in the US and abroad, across a broad range of sectors. They manage projects in unfamiliar environments, applying a range of management techniques, strengthening their ability to collaborate and adapt.View School Profile
Simon places a premium on experiential learning, so that its students can enter the workforce ready to make a positive impact from day one. In addition to a required, project-based consulting course, students can choose from additional MBA elective options that include immersive experiences abroad to visit leading organizations and government institutions across the globe.View School Profile
At Tuck, the MBA students learn by doing, solving problems, collaborating, innovating and leading. A number of courses, centers, clubs and programs provide a wide array of experiential learning opportunities. That includes OnSite Global Consulting, a field-study course that sees students work with companies overseas. In addition, Tuck offers half-term-elective courses called Global Insight Expeditions (GIXs) to selected countries.View School Profile
Experiential Learning gets MBA Students out of Their Comfort Zones
Sep 23, 2021
Despite Covid, business schools have ramped up opportunities for students to apply academic theory in the real business world