Field Studies Frequently Asked Questions
What is a field study?
- Ideally, Field Studies are student-led (faculty-advised) 15-week projects sponsored/funded by companies interested in hiring BYU MBA and other graduate-level students.
- The projects are real-world problems faced by companies today.
- The students will use the tools they are learning in the MBA and other programs to create an insightful problem resolution to the project proposed by the company.
- A professor will be assigned as an advisor and in many cases an experienced business executive will also act as a coach to the team.
So how is a field study different than a case in class?
- No matter how realistic a case is designed, it is always going to be somewhat contrived and condensed.
- Field Studies are real problems with all of the realities of the marketplace, with companies including their rules and cultures and team members and their ideas.
- This isn’t practice anymore; you have to line up a number of tools and have them work together to solve a complex problem.
- Companies want to see new and innovative insights, not the same rehashed approaches of the past.
What's in it for the company?
- The company will receive a final report and recommendation from the student team.
- They will receive insight from students who are being trained in the most recent techniques.
- They will have the assurance that the recommendation has been reviewed by a professor as a credibility check.
- They will have contact, far beyond an interview, with future MBA and other graduate-level candidates that they could hire.
- The companies sponsoring field studies receive an advertising benefit that cannot be purchased. For more than 20 weeks the students talk about which company field study projects they want to do, which team they are on, what their team is doing, and how the project went.
- The cost of the study is an economical option to develop recommendations for the defined problem.
What's in it for the MBA student?
- A real-world experience in the area of their studies.
- A fabulous resume builder – focused on future career.
- Interaction on a personal level with company contacts that recommend or hire MBA students.
- An opportunity to solve problems with the tools they are learning where there is no answer already defined.
- Developing team-work skills in a real-world setting.
- Gaining real live “Game Experience” instead of one more practice session, developing future skills.
- Developing attributes that matter most to recruiters.
What are the attributes that matter most to recruiters?
According to the Wall Street Journal 9/17/2007 p. R5
- Interpersonal and Communication skills
- A Teamwork Orientation
- Personal Ethics and Integrity
- Analytical and Problem-Solving abilities
- Strong Work Ethic
What kinds of field studies can BYU graduate students do?
- New product introduction analysis and business plan development
- Market analysis of potential customer segments and marketing plan development
- Marketing research analysis (across all forms of market surveys and analyses)
- Competitive analysis and forecasting competitor initiatives
- Financial analysis across a variety of opportunities
- Finance function projects
- M&A financial analysis and integration projects
- Human resource and organizational projects
- Supply Chain analysis and recommendations
- Supply Chain functional projects
- Best practice analyses across functions, industries, and market segments
- Strategy development and analysis projects
- Business plan development across multi-functional organizations
- Information systems oriented projects
- Accounting-based projects
Almost any project you would ask an MBA (or other graduate-level student) or multifunctional team from your company to work on, you could replace with a Field Study.
How can a graduate student participate in a field study?
- They must register for MBA 690R or one of the other specialty field study classes like MBA 651 Marketing Field Studies.
- They must apply for the projects they are interested in by completing the student FS application after Nov. 1 for Winter semester and after Aug. 1 for Fall semester.
- They will be assigned to a team and will kick the project off the first week of the semester by meeting with their team and the sponsors after the initial class.
- Students should plan to work 9 hours per week on the project and do professional level work.
- Students can place the field study on their resume as relevant work experience.
Can the field study teams travel internationally, and who pays for it?
- Yes, teams can miss up to one week of classes for international travel associated with field studies.
- We can apply for international travel reimbursement from the BYU Global Management Center based on their Government CYBER grant. If the travel is approved, and falls within their budget, they can cover up to all of the transportation costs of international travel.
- There are restrictions to who and what is covered by these CYBER grants, so each project must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- All unreimbursed travel costs must be paid by the sponsoring company.
Who are some of the companies who have done field study projects in the past?
BYU has done projects for a wide variety of large global companies, small regional companies, startup companies, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies.
What does the output of a field study look like?
The final product for a BYU Field Study project is as diverse as the projects in which we participate. Each project will have a unique process and a unique final output. But there are some common elements of most Field Studies:
- A final PowerPoint presentation
- A bound final report of project findings and recommendations
- Executive Summary of the final report
- Appendices with the data from the project and analysis
- Electronic copies of most reports and data
While projects are all confidential to the sponsoring companies, we have had a few companies that have agreed to have their projects made available for viewing on this web site. These are the private property of the sponsoring companies and these documents should only be viewed as examples and are not for public consumption or sharing.