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How to Highlight Your MBA Program’s Real-World Experiences

Tyson Schritter / Abound and Colleges of Distinction

One of the criticisms levied against MBA programs these days is that, while they offer important theoretical knowledge and business insight, they don’t equip students with the real-world experience necessary for today’s world of work. However, many MBA programs are indeed providing real-world experience through internships, practicums, field experience courses, capstone projects, and more. 

One reason people think otherwise is simply because these opportunities aren’t conveyed to them in a clear and effective way. Therefore, it’s critical that you’re clearly communicating both the existence and benefits of these real-world experience opportunities in your marketing efforts so that prospective students know that you have what they’re looking for. 

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Here are three things to keep in mind when highlighting your MBA program’s real-world experiences to help you attract more students and increase enrollment.

Effectively Detail Your MBA Program’s Real-World Experiences

There are a lot of schools that talk about the fact that they offer real-world business experience, yet this is often mentioned as a single bullet point or in a paragraph of text. They assume that merely listing it will be enough to compel prospective MBA students, all while ignoring the fact that what one school might offer as real-world business experience can look very different from another. 

Man Writing Notes at DeskThe more you can highlight the details and nuances of your MBA program’s real-world experiences, the easier it is for prospective students to actually visualize the benefit of these experiences. And while every school is merely mentioning real-world experience as a typical table stake of an MBA, students will more likely understand how your program will specifically and uniquely offers this important benefit.

Baylor provides an entire page about its Portfolio Management Practicum through which participating students can manage a large-cap or small-cap stock investment portfolio. The page not only details what this looks like, but it also provides information about the impressive professional backgrounds of the professors from whom students would be learning. Something like this is much more helpful to students than a couple of vague sentences that leave prospective students uncertain about what their business experience might actually look like. 

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Show, in Addition to Tell, Audiences About Your MBA Program’s Real-World Experiences

While it’s important to “tell” students about the details of your MBA program’s real-world experiences—be they internships, coursework that offers real-world projects, program capstones, summer partnership opportunities, student consulting projects, study abroad programs with international businesses, or more—it is more compelling to show them as well. 

This is where student testimonials, photos, videos, etc. paint an even clearer picture for prospective MBA students. It’s compelling to read about what one might experience working with a marketing agency on a new client pitch or a firm on solving a business analytics problem, but it’s even more effective to learn directly from students, faculty, and organizational partners who can share about a previous project. This could entail a video testimonial of a student who participated in the project, a quote from a third-party executive praising the results of a student project, or an alum linking the real-world experience they acquired in the program to success in their current role. 

We’ve written in detail about one compelling example from a small liberal arts school that crafted a case study and landing page to highlight its Field Experience course. In addition, the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College features a sharp landing page with a video overview of what its MBA Business Consulting Capstone entails (featuring a student, two business executives, and a faculty member). For another example of a video detailing an MBA program’s real-world experiences, check out Simon Business School at the University of Rochester’s Integrated Student Experience.

Don’t Forget About Your Partnering Organizations

It’s also important to keep in mind the other audience that might be exploring your program’s real-world business experience opportunities: third-party organizations. You’ll likely need to take the initiative to reach out and form partnerships with organizations, rather than to wait passively for executives to stumble upon your page, but you should still have something on your website to feature what the program entails and how organizations can get involved. 

Business Man Texting on Phone at DeskThe Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis dedicates a well-designed page to this end for nonprofits. It includes an easy-to-understand and UX-friendly “How It Works” section on the page to clearly outline what organizations need to do to get involved. Turning back to the webpage we discussed previously from the Zicklin School of Business, its “For Business Partners” section not only details how the program works with organizations, but also what they can expect in return as well as how to get in touch and learn more.

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Again, while most visitors to your website will be prospective students, it’s still important to make sure you’re providing a way for organizations to learn about your MBA program’s real-world experiences that you offer and how they can get involved, themselves. After all, you won’t be able to provide real-world business experience without the interest and involvement of real-world organizations! Once you begin growing your programs, you never know how word-of-mouth marketing may spread from your current organizational partners to others. It’s best to be ready for prospective organizations should they visit your website to learn more about how, ultimately, they can serve themselves, MBA students, and your institution.

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