Many business schools encourage students to learn by doing, providing opportunities for experiential learning and hands-on engagement. Although such activities let students dip a toe into the real world of business, an immersion program is comparable to being thrown into the deep end. Immersion programs vary from school to school, lasting anywhere from a weekend to several weeks, but they all offer students the opportunity to visit a new place and engross themselves in the locale’s business world.
Pros and Cons
By providing intense hands-on experiences, immersion programs confer several benefits. Non-academic business professionals, as well as faculty, teach real-world lessons. Rather than sitting in a lecture, students learn to solve real and simulated business problems under realistic conditions. In addition to general problem-solving experience, MBA students leave their immersion programs with knowledge of a specific field of business and are often familiar with how that field functions in a specific part of the world. Finally, these programs provide excellent networking opportunities, connecting students with one another, and with established companies and business practitioners.
After graduation, this networking can help students make contacts and even obtain new career prospects. These programs can provide another aid to job seekers as well: By broadening students’ experiences, immersion programs make participants more appealing to recruiters.
For students earning online degrees, the chance for interaction and experiential learning that these immersion programs provide is invaluable. Face-to-face networking and hands-on work can be difficult to achieve through a computer screen, and attending conferences and participating in study abroad programs mitigates that drawback. Immersion programs are particularly useful for those earning their MBAs online.
Like a study abroad program for undergraduates, an immersion program may be fun and useful but it’s not a necessary part of earning a degree. Its value must be contrasted with the time students spend, and the financial investment the program requires. Program length and price will vary from school to school, but travel and housing inevitably require money, especially travel to foreign countries.
Some MBA programs include these costs in tuition, while others do not. In exchange for students’ time investment, they receive academic credits, which again can vary from program to program. In making the decision to participate in an MBA immersion program, students must weight their required investment against the experience and academic credits they will receive for participating.