Hands-On Learning

As a Carlson School student, you’ll have ample opportunities to put lessons from the classroom to the test in real business situations. When it comes time to start your first job, you’ll reap the rewards of a Carlson School education that’s built around authentic business experiences.

Required coursework—Impact Lab Project:

First-year students entering in Fall 2022 and transfer students entering in Fall 2023 will participate in the Impact Lab Project as part of their Impact Core year. The 2-credit project course will partner you and a group of classmates with a business, nonprofit or social enterprise. You will make an impact by solving a real problem, while learning how to navigate ambiguous challenges and harness creativity to solve them. 

Further classroom opportunities: 

Our “In-Action” courses and case competitions in the majors challenge you to solve real marketing problems, make an investment recommendation for a client, or launch your own business. These hands-on experiences help you develop industry competencies for early career success, and equip students with tools to navigate competitive recruiting timelines.  

The Carlson School offers four In-Action courses. Students in their junior or senior year may choose one course that best aligns with their interests and career goals. Additional courses continue to be developed

  • Entrepreneurship in Action: This two-semester course offers students the reality of launching a startup company. Students gain hands-on experience with all functions and are encouraged to take risks, learn from their mistakes and continue to improve and refine their businesses. Students gain personal insights on their leadership, communication and organizational behavior as they build high performing teams. In addition to receiving support from Carlson faculty and experienced entrepreneurs, students interact with attorneys, bankers and other professional services providers. Each business receives up to $15,000 in funding and operates out of dedicated space at the school. Students direct their profits to the University or another non-profit organization.
  • Mergers and Acquisition in Action: This Action Based Course will explore in an experiential way the methodology corporate managers employ and invest capital to achieve growth and a return to its shareholders through mergers and acquisitions. Starting with the strategic rationale and ending with the challenges of integration, this course will focus on the process used for identifying M&A targets and the methods used in practice to value these transactions.
  • Marketing in Action: This course focuses on what marketers do in real-life. Each week begins with guidance on approaching a typical task, then developing recommendations by working in groups during class with ongoing feedback from the instructor, and concluding with a short presentation. Weekly topics may include identifying marketing challenges (ala Shark Tank), segmenting customers, pricing a product, and developing an advertising plan. The course concludes with a multi-week, interactive simulation in which students compete in groups as they manage a product..
  • Business Analytics in Action: Analytics skills are in high demand. Companies everywhere seek employees who can understand and use data to solve twenty-first century business problems. This course provides students an end-to-end analytics project experience working with a real client company. Depending on the project, students will apply data engineering, exploratory analytics, data visualization, and machine learning models. In addition, students will gain valuable experience working with clients, managing a project, framing a business problem, and presenting results to stakeholders. 

Interested in an especially rigorous challenge? A select number of undergraduate students can join our Carlson School Enterprise Programs, where, alongside experienced MBA students, you’ll tackle semester-long projects for paying clients who expect results. The Enterprises (Brands, Consulting, Ventures, and Funds) present students with real-life projects to apply what they are learning in the classroom. The Enterprises are highly selective and are multiple semester commitments that students typically engage in during their junior and senior years.