iMBA immerses students in a virtual-reality curriculum

[From Business Wire via Yahoo! Finance]

Lake Forest Graduate School of Management Introduces the Next Generation of Online Learning

Avatars as Business-School Collaborators

Press Release: Lake Forest Graduate School of Management – Mon, Sep 10, 2012

LAKE FOREST, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Move over, gamers — avatars aren’t just for entertainment anymore. While most graduate business schools prepare their MBA students for the world of business that awaits them after graduation, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (LFGSM) is changing the game by immersing a new cohort of students into that world of business through an innovative approach to learning. In LFGSM’s new Immersion MBA (iMBA) program, part-time students live out the experiences of business by being the primary actors in a simulated corporate environment where colleagues are avatars and business problems play out on the computer screen rather than through case studies in a classroom. This virtual-reality curriculum is available anywhere in the world, and takes LFGSM’s 66-year heritage and its expertise in providing practical business learning from 100% business leaders to a new, and perhaps unexpected, level.

“Lake Forest iMBA students will graduate not just with a degree, but with a degree of meaningful experience,” explains LFGSM President and CEO John Popoli. “As more and more millennials join the workforce, it is increasingly critical that they can demonstrate a true understanding of how business works. Imagine being a hiring manager choosing between two candidates for a job – both candidates each have a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience in a marketing department, but one candidate has an MBA through which she participated in mergers and acquisitions, projects to improve manufacturing efficiency, sensitive HR issues, and financial analysis. Who would you hire or promote?”

Since its founding in 1946, Lake Forest Graduate School has been the Chicago area’s only independent, not-for-profit, accredited business school that focuses exclusively on serious working professionals. Its flagship program, the Leadership MBA, has graduated more than 8,000 alumni and has produced entrepreneurs, not-for-profit executives, and C-level leaders across the Fortune 500. Historically, the kind of rigorous, practical learning available in the Leadership MBA program was only available to candidates with significant work experience; the average Leadership MBA student at Lake Forest is 38 years old with 14 years of professional experience. Now, LFGSM has developed a way to offer the unique value and experience of its practical MBA model to aspiring professionals who have as little as one year of work experience. The Immersion Master in Business Administration (iMBA) is a different path to the Lake Forest MBA credential, and one that is best suited to professionals early in their careers who want to rapidly develop and practice critical business skills.

“A typical student in our Leadership MBA program,” explained LFGSM Vice President of R&D and Innovation, Kathy Leck, “is an Abbott scientist, a CDW sales manager, a marketer from Kraft, a Motorola engineer, or an Allstate finance professional. Those professionals come to Lake Forest Graduate School mid-way through their careers to help them get a broader perspective outside their area of functional expertise and to work on their leadership skills so they can rise even higher. Our new iMBA program, on the other hand, attracts professionals earlier in their business careers – when they have perhaps just a few years of experience, or when they are transitioning from a non-business career, like nursing or the military. iMBA students are men and women who like to learn by doing and are looking for a chance to earn a ‘been there, done that’ perspective on how organizations really run, but don’t want to wait another 10 or 15 years into their career to get that perspective.”

What makes the iMBA program so powerful and unique is not that it’s delivered online, but that its virtual reality learning environment engages students emotionally and intellectually, and leaves them with memorable, “sticky” learning that they can apply on the job right away and for years to come. The virtual reality platform for the iMBA takes what we know to be effective about other kinds of simulated learning – like flight simulators for pilots and surgical simulators for medical students – and applies it to the world of business, where the stakes are arguably higher than ever. Mentoring, networking and career services are built into the program, too.

Students in the iMBA program become management “trainees” in a simulated manufacturing company, where they spend time in each of the fictional company’s key departments, such as finance, marketing and human resources, corresponding to the curriculum. They interact with other classmates from various geographies, computer-generated colleagues and customers inside the online platform, and business-leader faculty from the Chicagoland area and beyond – encountering and handling situations they will eventually face in the actual corporate world. LFGSM faculty members help students translate the learning to their current jobs and understand how their performance in the virtual reality informs their careers.

“We feel immersion-based learning is the next generation of online education. LFGSM iMBA students will have an advantage over their peers in the job market, having already interacted, managed and navigated a corporate environment,” says Popoli. “We can offer employers graduates who already have hands-on experience in multiple departments. And what we offer to students is powerful and unique. With an estimated 60% of millennials wanting to start their own businesses someday, the practical approach of the iMBA allows these future business owners to experience major business scenarios in the safety of the virtual environment.”

The program is ideal for aspiring leaders seeking a career boost as well as those transitioning out of non-business professions. LFGSM’s iMBA program enables students who may be unfamiliar with the corporate world to confidently and quickly gain practical experience they can add to their resumes.

The 22-month MBA program is 100% online and is designed to fit into busy schedules. Admission requirements include a Bachelor’s degree and at least one year of professional work experience. To learn more about the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management iMBA, view a program demo now, fill out the inquiry form at or contact an enrollment counselor at 800-890-7340.

The addition of the iMBA to the Lake Forest Graduate School portfolio means that there are now three paths to earning a Master of Business Administration credential from LFGSM – via the iMBA’s 100% online, virtual-reality environment; through the Leadership MBA program offered on ground at campuses in Schaumburg or Lake Forest and at leading area companies; or through an online scheduling option for the Leadership MBA. LFGSM also is a leading provider of corporate learning solutions for major companies seeking to improve the leadership strengths of their employees; corporate learning programs are derived from LFGSM’s MBA curriculum and taught by the same business-leader faculty for which the School is so well known.

Lake Forest Graduate School of Management was established in 1946 and offers the Chicago area’s premier part- time MBA program for serious working professionals. LFGSM is the only independent, not-for-profit, accredited graduate business school in the Chicago area, and offers its part-time Leadership MBA program on weeknights, Saturdays, weekdays and online. LFGSM offers the Immersion MBA for aspiring leaders, the Leadership MBA for experienced professionals; and graduate-level certificate programs and customized leadership development programs for organizations. Learn more at


Primary Contact: Kate Colbert
Director of Marketing
Lake Forest Graduate School of Management
Secondary Contact: Jean Ban
V.P. Public Relations & Social Media
Colman Brohan Davis, Inc
Cell: 312.259.4648


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