Why MBA Experience Makes a Difference

Learn why MBA experience makes a difference in your career
Learn why MBA experience makes a difference in your career

Beyond classroom learning, most MBA students are looking for a vigorous, experience-rich education that will be relevant to their careers now and into the future. Assessing the value of an online MBA experience requires careful consideration of your background and goals and how a particular program will empower you to maximize them. Each program is different in its approach to advanced business education and training.

Experiential learning for MBA students is a critical tool in your work toward career growth and leadership. Tangible real-world experience can and should remain a priority as you choose an online MBA experience. With more than two decades of successful outcomes, Suffolk University’s MBA Online immerses students in actual business scenarios through an expansive online network. 

Get a look inside Suffolk’s innovative online MBA classroom and discover what makes our student experience unique.


What is Experiential Learning for MBA Students and Why Does it Matter?

While there is no doubt that classroom learning is still essential for robust MBA programs, we now know how much there is to be gained from student experiences beyond that format. One of the most important developments in our knowledge of how people learn has been a deeper understanding of the nature and value of experiential learning.

Experiential Learning: From Theory to Practice


"Our students 'play' with live client problems and figure them out.
It’s messy by design and that’s how you learn."

Suffolk MBA Program Director, Jodi Detjen

 Learning by doing is crucial to the process of long-term growth and development. This understanding is reflected in the practice of experiential learning at Suffolk,  incorporating a holistic approach that accounts for both the mental and behavioral dimensions of the learning process.

Educational theorist David A. Kolb, who is credited with formalizing the approach to experiential learning, notes that there are two goals in the experiential learning process:

  • Learning the specifics of a particular subject, and

  • Learning about one’s own learning process.

A true emphasis of the second goal — learning about one’s own learning process — may seem like an unusual, non-traditional approach for an online MBA experience. Yet that kind of understanding will prove crucial for developing business leaders who can actualize the type of lifelong learning necessary to adapt and grow through the many seasons of a business career.

The Benefits of Experiential Learning in an Online MBA Experience

Experiential learning in any context is about more than opportunities to step outside a classroom for real-world experience. An essential component to the success of this approach is the creation of an environment in which students are encouraged to reflect on and discuss their experiences.  In Suffolk’s diverse culture, students benefit from collaboration with faculty and other students with different experiences and perspectives.

A recent study published in Review of Business & Finance Studies, the journal for The Institute for Business and Finance Research (IBFR), identified several key benefits to experiential learning for MBA students, including:

Individual Growth Students gain a deeper understanding of their area of educational focus, develop relevant skill sets, and increase their future marketability for employment. 

Respect in Industry After Graduation The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which represents the highest worldwide standard for business schools, has lauded the importance of experiential learning. As an accredited AACSB school, Suffolk upholds the practice of experiential learning as one of the most valuable aspects of a respected MBA program. 

Development of Teamwork and Collaborative Skills Experiential learning tends to include cooperative learning assignments and projects which require students to develop an acumen for problem-solving in actual business environments.

Professional Industry Impact Students who participate in MBA programs that emphasize hands-on learning that immerses students in real-world business set themselves apart from their peers in more traditional MBA programs.

The IBFR study also concluded that experiential learning for MBA students led to measurable improvement in three key areas:

  1. Improved student scores on exams, including students’ capacity for applying key concepts to actual business scenarios

  2. Higher levels of student satisfaction with both their courses and their professors

  3. An increase in student self-confidence that they will be able to perform and succeed in the business world after completing the program

This is consistent with findings in other contexts. A recent McGraw-Hill survey found that more than half of college students felt they needed more experiential learning than they were offered to be prepared for their future careers. A Gallup study found that students who had consistent experiential learning opportunities were more confident they would graduate with the knowledge and skills they needed to succeed in the job market.

The Suffolk MBA Online program is designed to move from concepts to actual issues, putting education to work in a real setting. Students take a look at global connections and world-class strategies to better understand organizational strategy, including:

  • What does the world look like moving forward through and after a pandemic?

  • What challenges will arise related to supply and demand or imports and exports?

With experience working on real-life issues faced by leading organizations, students develop valuable expertise that directly translates to career application during the program and after graduation.

At every level of education, the results are clear: Experiential learning produces students who are prepared, confident and ready to not only succeed but to lead in their career fields.

Experienced group of MBA graduates sit around office table discussing business plan

Distinguish Yourself from the Crowd

Those numbers and outcomes are important, but what does the application of experiential learning look like in an online MBA experience? In identifying the importance of experiential learning for MBA students, the AACSB found that educators at the most successful programs include one or more of the following techniques in their approach:

  • Tailoring learning outcomes to the individual

  • Offering feedback early and often to students, both individually and in groups

  • Creating opportunities for reflection

  • Evaluating student learning in three domains: cognitive, affective, and behavioral

  • Acknowledging and incorporating the role of emotions

  • Assessing and adjusting approaches to teaching and student development

The Suffolk Experience: An Immersive Online MBA Program

Not every MBA program is the same. A recent survey found that only 23% of MBA graduates felt their program prepared them well for life after graduate school. A lack of experiential learning and faculty investment was an overwhelming factor for those surveyed:

  • 19% felt strongly that their professors cared about them as a person.

  • 14% strongly agreed with the statement: “I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.”

  • 26% indicated their program offered a job or hands-on business opportunities to apply what they were learning in the classroom.

This is why we do what we do the way we do it through the Suffolk University MBA Online. At Suffolk, you can expect these distinctive program attributes:

Faculty Mentors

Our faculty members mentor students and engage in active communication throughout the program experience. As world-class educators and business professionals, they bring their firsthand experiences to the classroom and to individual applications with students. The course structure and design support a high-touch learning environment that builds connections between students and faculty.

Support Resources

Along with faculty guidance, dedicated student success advisors offer individualized support for online students. Dedicated career and professional development counselors are also available, as well as access to a global alumni network. This support assures that online students receive the same academic excellence and transformative learning experience offered through on-campus programs. 

Experiential Learning for MBA Students

Among the elite 5% of global business programs accredited by the AACSB, the Suffolk Online MBA is designed to immerse you in real-world business. It’s a hands-on and highly interactive approach that develops the critical business and leadership skills you’ll need to build a lasting career at the forefront of global business.

The Suffolk Difference: An Online MBA Experience For You, On Purpose

Suffolk is unique in a number of ways, beginning with our premium location— built in Boston, we are built for business. Positioned in the middle of one of America’s economic anchor cities, Suffolk is surrounded by thousands of businesses like General Electric, Massachusetts General Hospital, Fidelity Investments and Liberty Mutual. This setting presents innovative opportunities for diverse, immersive online MBA experience for full-time working professionals. With four specialized concentrations available, you can customize your MBA Online curriculum to become the best business-minded leader you can be.

As you move through your engaging coursework at Suffolk, you’ll run a company as well as compete, lead and implement change. You will also use ethical frameworks to integrate what you’ve learned across the program and develop strategies to impact business. 

Two Suffolk MBA Online students discuss presentation on their laptop

Experience the Difference with the Suffolk MBA Online Program

An online MBA experience shouldn’t just teach you about business: it should immerse you in the realities of the business world. You’ll be a consultant from day one. At Suffolk, our world-class faculty will encourage and nurture your holistic development as a business professional and leader and mentor you in today’s business realities.

Experience the Suffolk difference for yourself. In as few as two years, you can graduate with a robust portfolio of the skills employers demand and the knowledge to define your path in the business world.

Build your experience and capacity for leadership to multiply your opportunities with an Online MBA from Suffolk University.