4 Experiential Learning MBA programs that you should Know

Experiential MBAMore and More recruiters are questioning the conventional methods used to teach MBAs. In their path-breaking book, Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads, Harvard Professors Srikant Datar and David A. Garvin, along with research associate Patrick Cullen, have made many striking points on the future of MBA education.  According to Professor Garvin, “They need to have a global mindset, for example, develop leadership skills of self-awareness and self-reflection; and develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of business, and the limitations of models and markets.”

As a result, business schools have revamped management education, as we know it. There is now a massive focus on experiential learning, simulations, and field studies.

Part of the reason why an MBA is so popular, is because it gives professionals a jump in their careers. Now they can compete with experienced professionals, who lack an MBA. What’s more, increasing numbers of students join an MBA with the bare minimum work experience. All of which leads to a gap between theory and practice that’s hard to bridge in real life. This is why MBA curriculums are now being re-designed to widen perspectives. They also empower students with practical ‘experience’ so that they hit the ground running, and continue to do so in a global market. But, while almost every MBA college is on the experiential learning bandwagon, a few stand out. Here are the top 5 MBA programs that focus on experiential learning:

1) Harvard MBA

Harvard Business School pioneered the Case Study method that’s now imitated by each and every MBA college, everywhere in the world. In 2008, while Celebrating their 100th anniversary, a workshop was organized on "The Future of MBA Education.” Not only did it inspire the book - Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads, it actually led to HBS completely revamping their own approach to MBA education. The focus is now on not just teaching, but on enabling students to ‘experience’ real life situations, and learn from them. The 2-semester format has been replaced by four. Faculty and students have the option of customizing class time to include more simulations. There is also a new mandatory fresher year subject - FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) – which simulates small-group learning experiences.

HBS also has an Immersion Experience Program (IXP) where participants spend their winter break doing fieldwork in countries across the globe. The program enhances hands-on learning with the help of one or more faculty members. In 2011, 900 students, in teams of six worked around the world on solving real-life problems.

2) Haas MBA

University of California – Berkeley’s Hass School of Business has an innovative new first year curriculum. More than half of the MBA electives involve real-life projects. The core course has eight experiential learning courses, out of which students must choose at least one. They range from Social Sector Solutions to International Business Development. The course Problem Finding, Problem Solving highlights different modes of thinking to solve complex problems, and helps develop visionary leaders in high performance teams. Across the board, various out-of -classroom activities enhance the learning experience, including the famous BILD (Berkeley Innovative Leader Development).

While the winter break’s “Global Study and Exploration Opportunities” offer study tours and treks, the summer break’ “Global Study Opportunities” takes students around the world to work for foreign corporations, organizations and governments. In 2011, students have visited countries all the way from Brazil to Laos.

The well-known Lester Center for Entrepreneurship enhances experiential learning by having classes conducted by leading venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The experience is taken to the next level through startup competitions, cross-campus mixers, hackathons, as well as through the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum.

3) Kellogg MBA

Having a Kellogg’s MBA, means you have practiced ‘learning by doing.’ The program offers its students many ways to test classroom lessons in real life. Prime among them is the Global Initiative in Management. In this initiative, a student chooses a country, and studies its politico-business climate in depth. Then the student spends two weeks there, meeting corporate and government leaders, while conducting hands-on research. Kellogg’s Global Lab gives students a global consulting project, with two weeks spent at the host company. The Asset Management Practicum has a student team that actually invests part of the school’s endowment. Kellogg’s Cup, the business plan competition helps students develop research, presentation and entrepreneurial talents. Students from Kellogg actually won the competition for strategies to rebuild schools destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

At Kellogg’s, Business leaders interact with students and faculty through a host of projects, case developments, clubs and conferences. The course structure is also comprised of ‘Labs’ that include Management, Risk and Sustainability Labs, all of which involves solving real life problems.

4) Babson MBA

Babson offers students the Babson Consulting Alliance Program (BCAP), a required component of the MBA course. It provides an experiential learning opportunity through real business and financial consulting services. As part of BCAP,  an academic advisor works in conjunction with client mentors to help a student team find answers to real life questions.

The entire course modules - Entrepreneurial Thought and Action; Managing for Value Creation; Creating and Sustaining Organizational Effectiveness; Growing and Creating New Businesses in a Globally Connected Environment – all lend themselves to experiential learning methods. There is also an elective, the Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE), that lets students further their learning, and truly experience one career vertical of choice. Here, students learn to positively influence a corporate or a non-profit organization, manage a project / team, implement change and thrive on making a difference.

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Define Post-MBA Goals
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Best Practices to find the truth in MBA Information Session or MBA Tour

Comprehensive MBA Research Guide:
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+Comparisons - Top MBA Programs
Wharton vs. Columbia MBA (2018)  
MIT vs. Stanford MBA   (2017)
Haas vs. Ross MBA    
Kellogg vs Ross MBA    
Booth vs Wharton MBA    
MIT Sloan vs Tuck MBA    
IIMA vs. ISB   

Harvard vs. Stanford MBA (2017)

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