Experiential Learning in the MBA Program

While Darden is known for teaching primarily through the case method, the Darden School also employs variations on the case method through a variety of experiential learning opportunities.

Below is a list of some of the many experiential experiences offered at Darden:

Experiential Electives

Consulting Darden Business Projects (DBPs)

Consulting DBPs are for-credit projects in which teams of three to six students work with a corporate client to address a business challenge, such as developing a business plan, market analysis or financial forecast.

Kaizen with Danaher Corporation

Since 2006, over 150 Darden MBA students have applied what they’ve learned in class to 'kaizen' (Japanese for continuous improvement) projects around the world with the Danaher Corporation, a global science and technology company. Each kaizen sends a small team of students to a Danaher facility for a one-week on-site experience to work closely with its employees to improve specific issues related to manufacturing, sales, marketing or R&D.

Amanda Gingras“At the Danaher operating company where we worked on our kaizen project, we increased productivity within the manufacturing cell by 7%. We changed the order of some processes, made tools more easily accessible and incorporated rotating shelves to allow for less travel time within the company cell, essentially reducing the time it takes to assemble a product." - Amanda Gingras (MBA ’12)

Learn more by reading "Darden Students Travel the World to Experience Hands-on Continuous Improvement" or by watching the the following video:

Global Field Experiences

Global Field Experiences are MBA electives that give small teams of students the opportunity to provide consulting services to an international company or organization while working closely with a Darden faculty member over the course of a quarter or semester. At the beginning or end of each course, students visit the company on location to build on-the-ground knowledge and scope the issue at hand. Learn about other global MBA opportunities.

Bahrain GBEGlobal Business Experiences

Global Business Experiences (GBEs) are one- to two-week courses that take place outside of the United States in March and May. Based on a unifying theme, each course includes classes and practitioner presentations as well as visits to companies, governmental agencies and cultural sites. Many GBEs also include hands-on consulting with companies in those countries.

Developing New Products and Services

The "Developing New Products and Services" elective is an action-oriented course that takes students through the key steps involved in developing a new product or service. Teams of students identify market needs, develop alternative product or service concepts to meet those needs, flesh out the concepts through a process of iterative design and prototyping, and examine product/service economics. Final working prototypes are presented at a design fair open to the media, product development practitioners, design and innovation experts, potential investors, and members of the University of Virginia community.

Innovation and Design Experience

The "Innovation and Design Experience" course examines how design thinking and innovation principles can be used to enhance the value and accelerate the development of business opportunities that deliver organic growth. Students apply design methodologies and innovation tools in a live, corporate project, working closely with a client company with a real problem to solve.

Marketing Intelligence

In the “Marketing Intelligence” elective, Darden students learn cutting-edge marketing research techniques leading to successful careers in marketing, consulting or the launch of one’s own new business venture. During the course, teams of Darden students work with a local entrepreneur to launch a viable business. Many of these entrepreneurs are seeking micro-loans from the Community Initiative Collaborative, a Darden alum founded micro-financing organization which assists low-income individuals in starting businesses. Over the years, the marketing research from Darden students has been instrumental in the funding and launching of new businesses.

Learn more by reading “Entrepreneurs Move Dream Ventures Forward With Help From Darden Students” or by watching the following video:

Experiential Learning Through Entrepreneurship

Venturing Darden Business Projects (DBPs)

Venturing DBPs are for-credit projects that challenge students to develop their own business ideas into proposals for new businesses. These projects generally include feasibility analysis and a plan for the venture’s development and funding.

iLabi.Lab Incubator

The i.Lab Incubator provides support for MBA student entrepreneurs who are interested in developing early-stage business ventures by providing them with $13,000 in funding, office space, access to technological expertise and free legal services.

Learn about other Darden entrepreneurship opportunities.

Experiential Learning Through Internships

Summer Internships

In between the First and Second Years at Darden, the vast majority of students do a summer internship. Internships are a critical part of the MBA experience because they allow you to apply new approaches, skills and knowledge learned during the First Year in a real-world setting and allow you to gain experience in a job function and/or industry that will help you during your full-time job search.

Experiential Learning Through Student Clubs

With over 40 student organizations, Darden provides ample opportunities for students to take on leadership roles to put their managerial training into action. There are also several career-focused clubs that give students real world experience in their chosen field of interest. Two examples include:

Darden Capital Management

Darden Capital Management is a student-run organization that seeks to prepare students for careers in portfolio management, equity research, hedge funds, sales and trading, private wealth management, and other financial fields. Members receive real world experience by actively managing four investment funds for UVA's endowment worth over $6 million. Each fund has four fund managers who are completely responsible for making all investment decisions for that fund.

Community Consultants of Darden

Community Consultants of Darden enables students to work on high-impact consulting engagements with local businesses and non-profit organizations in the Charlottesville community. The club provides students with an invaluable experiential learning opportunity to apply concepts garnered in class to solve challenging business issues in the local community.

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