Whether students advise companies on their business plans, formulate their own, or leverage a centers' industry contacts, the emphasis is the same—applying classroom learning to the real world, thinking outside conventional lines, and experiencing innovative business solutions and practices first-hand.
Experiential education is a core value and competency of the Oregon MBA and gives our students a competitive advantage. It is a key reason why students and companies alike come to Oregon. Much of the hands-on learning in the Oregon MBA program is mediated by the college's four centers where students undertake meaningful projects for leading companies, gain first-hand knowledge, and solve real-world business challenges. The following are the major hands-on learning opportunities in which MBA students engage.
A critical part of the learning happens where business is embedded and integrated across disciplines. The Oregon MBA program enables students to take advantage of the UO's world-renowned green chemistry education and research, highly regarded architecture and green design program, or the environmental/natural resources law center, as well as choose from electives in such disciplines as economics, public relations, nonprofit management, environmental studies, and dispute resolution.
The following are some of the interdisciplinary initiatives and programs in which our sustainable Oregon MBA students typically partner and participate.
- Product Design Program: The UO College of Design's School of Art + Design houses a robust Product Design program grounded in the use, invention, and production of manufactured goods and based in the history and practice of interior architecture, design, and visual arts disciplines. MBA students can leverage the Center for Sustainable Business Practices connections to the program to partner with counterparts in the School of Art + Design interested in market feasibility and analysis of sustainably designed products, as well as to help optimize supply chains in order to bring product concepts to commercial reality.
- Nonprofit Management: MBA students interested in running or founding a nonprofit can connect and partner on projects with the nonprofit management program in the UO College of Design's School of Planning, Public Policy and Management. With approximately 8 percent of U.S. total employment in the nonprofit sector—more than the number employed in construction, transportation and communication, finance, insurance, real estate, or agriculture—MBA students can develop the skills necessary to manage and lead financially stable, innovative, and effective organizations in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
- Sustainable Cities Initiative: The Sustainable Cities Initiative is a cross-disciplinary organization at the University of Oregon that seeks to promote education, service, public outreach, and research on the design and development of sustainable cities. The program brings together law, MBA, planning, and architecture students to study and provide technical assistance to Oregon cities related to sustainable building and development, business growth, economic impact and incentives, and more. Started in 2009, the initiative has worked with such Oregon cities as Gresham, Salem, and Springfield.
Strategic Planning Project
The keystone of experiential learning in the Oregon MBA is the strategic planning project (SPP), which typically begins in the fall or winter term of a student's second year and concludes the following term. A small group of classmates will be matched with one of our industry partners to tackle a significant real-life business issue.
A hallmark of the finance and securities analysis specialization is live portfolio management. Students actively manage portfolios worth more than $1.2 million. The Emerging Markets Portfolio, in particular, is managed entirely by MBA students and focuses on nations and economies with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization.
Whether it's business plan competitions for hopeful startup founders or case competitions in financial analysis, sustainability, and sports business, Oregon MBA students participate in—and win—prestigious competitions in which they pitch their ideas, defend complex financial decisions, or demonstrate the benefits of optimized supply chains.
Trips, Site Visits, Study Tours
Oregon MBA alumni and business connections spread far and wide. Through a multitude of trips to major industry hubs—New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and more—and visits with leading companies, MBA students gain insider knowledge from leading professionals at top firms and a network of valuable contacts.
A global experience study tour kicks off the second year for MBA students, giving them the chance to immerse themselves in the culture, social, and economic climate of different cultures throughout the world. Students meet with business leaders and alumni and gain a first-hand perspective into cross-cultural business practices. Past study tour locations have included Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and more.
Guest Speakers and Executives
Hundreds of business leaders come to UO campus every year to share their insights with MBA students in workshops and lectures, via guest speaker series, or as part of executive-in-residence program. MBA students benefit from these shared experiences as well as make important connections to business leaders and professionals.
Student Clubs and Organizations
Many MBA students participate in student clubs. In fact, the UO's Net Impact graduate-student chapter is one of the most active student groups in the Oregon MBA program, focusing on advancing business practices that benefit the triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet. Students gain valuable hands-on experience organizing social and educational events in which MBA students participate from all specializations.