This Is REAL — Michigan Ross Is Redefining the Future of Business Education


More than 25 years ago, Michigan Ross introduced MAP, an innovative experiential learning program that would go on to change the face of business education and establish Ross among the top business schools in the world.

This week, Michigan Ross continues to define the future of business education with the introduction of Ross Experiences in Action-Based Learning — REAL.

REAL is a unifying concept that brings together the curricular and co-curricular opportunities that Michigan Ross students have now, and will have in the future, to start, advise, lead, and invest in real-world businesses.

Putting students in real-world situations — with faculty guidance but with real stakes on the line — helps prepare them to thrive and lead in a dynamic world. They learn how to meet complex, ambiguous, and evolving business challenges. And, as a result of their practical experience, Michigan Ross graduates are in-demand by top employers and ready to make an impact on day one.

“I’m incredibly excited about the progress we’ve already made and the direction we’re heading,” said Scott DeRue, Edward J Frey Dean of Michigan Ross. “REAL represents the most comprehensive and effective experiential learning platform in business education, and it’s just getting started.”

Included in the REAL portfolio of experiences are:


With the support of these experiences in REAL.START, students have the opportunity to take their original idea from business concept to funded and operating reality.

REAL.START Experiences

Michigan Business Challenge

Enter this annual competition to win a share of $100,000 in prize money by pitching an original business plan with real-world commercial potential to guest judges.

TechArb Student Venture Accelerator

Bring your idea to life through an intensive and structured entrepreneurial experience, including pairings with seasoned mentors.

Desai Accelerator

For tech-enabled startups, the accelerator provides up to a $50,000 investment, mentorship, staff, and resources for early stage ventures to rapidly grow and build your business.

New Venture Creation Course

Learn and apply powerful methods to your entrepreneurial ventures, as well as corporate new-business development and new-market entry.

Entrepreneurship Practicum Capstone

Put into practice tools and techniques that can help you identify, assess, and pursue your business idea.

Not only do Michigan Ross students have the opportunity to take courses that have them developing real businesses as part of the curriculum, but co-curricular opportunities to develop their ideas can also lead to deeper mentoring, stronger business plan development, and large amounts of extra funding — the Michigan Business Challenge had its largest prize pool ever available for student startups this year.


These REAL.ADVISE experiences have student teams consult with a real-world organizations on a pressing issue of strategic importance, providing substantive analysis and recommendations. 

Our MBA Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) are the most well-known example of this type of experience, but it’s definitely not the only one available at Michigan Ross:

REAL.ADVISE Experiences

Full-Time MBA MAP

Work as part of a student team, consulting with a corporate, entrepreneurial, or nonprofit organization to solve a pressing challenge in this signature core course. Projects take place in all types and sizes of companies, across the U.S. and abroad.

Capstone MAP for Senior BBA students

Enhance professional competencies, collaboration skills, and business acumen as you develop analysis and recommendations for sponsor companies.

Action Learning Project in Operations, Procurement, & Supply Chain Course

Address a company's operations or supply-chain problem through a 14-week action learning project.

Dynamic Capabilities Through Corporate Development

Learn about growth options and the challenges and opportunities they present for companies.

Magnify Immersion Program

Gain experience in how to manage and lead organizations that help employees thrive through a mini-consulting project.

Ross Open Road

Over the course of five weeks, drive from state to state meeting entrepreneurs, spending one week on site in each location working together on a solution to a business problem.

MAP remains the most immersive action-based program of its kind for full-time MBA students, sending the entire class of first-year students to work directly with an organization on solving a real business challenge. Just this spring alone Full-Time MBA students on MAP are partnering with more than 70 companies including  Facebook, Microsoft, Experian, Kraft, Google, and many more.

Read about some of these projects and others in a new student blog examining the MAP experience from the unique perspective of six different students:


Students manage seven focused investment funds in all aspects of their operations. Together, these funds have more than $10 million in assets.

REAL.INVEST Experiences

Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund

Evaluate new technologies developed at U-M, perform due diligence, and pitch the inventor on the investment team's proposal.

Maize and Blue Fund

Act as a portfolio manager — following and analyzing particular sectors, then pitching stocks to your peers.

Michigan Blue Venture Fund

Help operate a fund that invests specifically in early-stage companies.

Real Estate Fund

Learn to analyze real estate, cash flows, risks and rewards for a fund that invests directly in real-world projects.

Social Venture Fund

Experience the entire process of investing in business ventures dedicated to improving society as well as the bottom line.

Wolverine Venture Fund

Gain hands-on experience in the entire process of venture investing, including sourcing applicants, initial analysis, due-diligence negotiation, and monitoring the portfolio.

Zell Founders Fund

Invest in ventures from U-M students who are seeking funding to support a startup they hope to continue after graduation.

Zell Early Stage Fund

Gain insight into how venture capital funds are formed, how to attract capital, and how to deal with investors.

From early stage funds to funds that invest in more mature companies who are already making a profit, there are a diversity of experiences available to students interested in venture capital and fund management.

Three leaders of student-led funds recently joined together to discuss their experiences, what it’s like to be a student AND manage millions of dollars in investments, and how the experience will stick with them well into their careers.

Listen to their discussion below from the Business Beyond Usual Podcast:


In some of the newest REAL experiences available to our students, they assume functional responsibility for leading and operating an ongoing business concern, working with established corporate partners.

REAL.LEAD Experiences

Living Business Leadership Experience Course

Help establish and ultimately lead a functional team in an actual, operational business unit, working with executives of a sponsoring company.

Tauber Team Projects

Tackle a paid, operations-related assignment with graduate engineering students. Ranging from high-level strategic analysis to detailed work-flow issues.

Center for Social impact Board Fellows Program

Serve as a board member of a regional nonprofit, gaining real-world insight into its workings and procedures while contributing to the organization’s success.


Immerse in the theory and practice of Positive Organizational Scholarship and lead the application of what you have learned in sponsoring organization.

The Living Business Leadership Experience class is a big part of this.

The course, which kicked off last year, has students join teams working with companies like Shinola and Ford Smart Mobility. You can read about how the teams working with Shinola this past semester were responsible for launching the company’s first ever line of headphones, in a recent post from one of the students responsible:

You can explore all of the REAL experiences available to Ross students on new web pages launched by Ross this week.

Explore REAL | Ross Experiences in Action-Based Learning

Connect with Michigan Ross        



Students develop a new business based on an original idea with the intent of achieving economic viability.


Student teams consult with a real-world organization on a pressing issue of strategic importance, providing substantive analysis and recommendations.


Students manage seven focused investment funds, totaling more than $10 million in assets, in all aspects of their operations.


Students assume functional responsibility for leading and operating an ongoing business concern, working with established corporate partners.

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