Course Overview

M-Lab is a full credit course listed in the Spring 2008 catalog as ACCT-454-0. This is a unique course at Kellogg, in that M-Lab is cross-listed among several departments including marketing, accounting, operations, MMM, public/non-profit, and management and strategy. The credit from M-lab can be applied to any major, except Finance and Health Industry Managment, dependant upon the nature of each student's project.

M-Lab is considered an inter-disciplinary capstone course targeting first year students at the end of their core curriculum. M-Lab provides students an ideal opportunity to exercise the skills developed in core courses in real business situations.

The focus throughout the class is on solving the problems faced by M-Lab client organizations. Students are expected to work directly with their corporate and non-profit clients to understand, analyze and solve their problems in a variety of areas.

Students have access to faculty as well as consulting mentors throughout the quarter. The faculty will have two one-on-one review sessions with each project team to assess progress, identify issues and provide overall guidance. In addition, the student teams may seek the advice of consulting mentors on specific issues that may arise during the course of project work.

Through M-Lab, students have completed numerous successful projects. Some examples include:

  • Design and implement a marketing plan for a telecom project
  • Create an on-line travel accommodation service
  • Analyze entry into internet banking for a major bank
  • Review the business plan and design a marketing strategy for an internet shopping and gift registry firm
  • Study the relationship between pricing, capacity utilization and service for a telecom firm
  • Build a marketing program for a new product in an emerging category


Typical Course Timeline

Before the quarter begins, students enrolled in M-Lab are offered a list of potential projects to select from. This list is vetted by M-Lab student leaders and faculty to ensure each is cross-functional in nature, feasible to complete in the course term, meaningful, and has the full support of the client organization's management team. Students select their project before the start of the spring quarter, and are strongly encouraged to establish contact with the client before the quarter begins. This allows the maximum time for project work. By the third week of class student teams finalize a detailed proposal and timeline that the client and faculty sign off on, which then becomes the prime deliverable for the course. Students make a mid-term presentation detailing progress and issues as well as a final presentation. A final presentation is also made to the client.

  • Week -1: Project selection and initial contact with sponsors.
  • Weeks 1- 3: Clarify deliverables with sponsor. Prepare detailed proposal with sponsor sign off and submit to faculty.
  • Weeks 5 and 6: Mid-term review with client to track progress and make mid-course corrections. Mid-term presentations to class.
  • Week 10: Final presentations to sponsors and class. Sponsors may choose to witness presentation in class. Peer evaluation of each presentation by other groups.
  • Week 10 (contd.): Presentation by four finalists to panel of outside judges at Allen Center.
  • Final Dinner for Sponsors, judges, faculty and finalists at Allen Center.

1. Why should I sign up for M-Lab?

Regardless of your future career plans, this is a great experience. There is something in it for everyone:

Consultants – You will get the chance to take a “trial run” working for a client prior to your summer internship. This will provide the opportunity to manage a schedule, a project team, and most of all - client expectations.

Brand Managers – Many of the projects relate to product management or market analysis. This is an opportunity to learn some new tools and use some of those fantastic skills you bragged about during your interviews.

Techies – Several of the projects provide the opportunity to develop a business plan for e-commerce or an internet marketing strategy. Other projects include more traditional marketing for Telecom companies.

Non-profits – Solid project in development of an educational program for a non-profit organization.

Entrepreneurs – Several projects working for start ups in research park and Chicago .

Bankers - Sorry, no first-hand Wall St. experience, but many of the projects involve financial analysis or research.

Last, but importantly: Resume Builder – Another great story to tell during interviews!

2. Will we receive any training on the consulting process?

Yes. Consulting partners from reputable consulting companies, e.g. McKinsey, BCG, A.T. Kearney and Ernst and Young have volunteered their time to provide overviews of the consulting process and necessary skills. There will also be consultant mentors assigned to each project for guidance during the quarter.

3. Is there formal class time for this course?

Yes, the class will meet one night each week during the quarter. The detailed schedule provides details of what we plan to accomplish in each week of the class.

4. Is M-Lab only open to first years?

Absolutely not, though the majority of the students are typically from the first year. Project teams may be comprised of first and second year students.

5. Does M-Lab meet MMM Integration Project requirements?

To meet MMM Integration Project requirements an M-Lab project must have a suitable operations or design component. The exact number and availability of projects that meet this requirment varies from year-to-year, but every effort will be made to accomodate MMM students wishing to take M-Lab. During or before the project selection process, MMM students should seek project approval from the MMM directors. Please contact Dean Rogers or Professor Deshmukh with any further questions.

6. How many people are in a group?

Most groups have between 4-5 members. This is an optimal size and has been found to work well for the requirements of the course.

7. How will groups be assigned?

Students will select their own groups. After the course registration period is completed, we will distribute a class listing to everyone registered for M-Lab. You may use this list to form groups. If you have difficulty finding a group, please let the co-chairs know. They will work with you to have you assigned to a group.

The group formation typically is done before the end of the WINTER QUARTER. This will allow the groups to establish initial contact with their project sponsors before the Spring Break. This will allow the sponsor to begin to plan and perhaps collect necessary data for the M-Lab team. (Note: Sponsor contact during Winter Quarter is not a requirement).

***However, if you are not sure of taking the class, we strongly recommend that you do not get in touch with your sponsor. If you drop the class, your client may be left without a consulting team, and this gives Kellogg and the M-Lab program an unfavorable image. So, please be certain that you will continue in the course before setting up the client expectations.***

8. How will projects be selected?

You can bring your own project (with or without a group) to the class. Your client will have to submit the proposal to the student co-chairs who will decide if it meets the criteria e.g. cross-functional. If selected (and typically it will be), your project will not be put up for bidding by the rest of the class; you are guaranteed to work on it.

M-Lab faculty and co-chairs will also solicit projects over the winter quarter and select the ones that meet the criteria. Students will bid for these projects, as a team. The bidding logic will be decided by the student co-chairs and published to the class.

9. What is the expected workload?

The expected workload is comparable with other Kellogg courses. However, this is one course where you will get as much out of it as you put in. It will be the group’s responsibility to limit the scope of the project and manage the sponsor’s expectations to avoid major schedule hiccups late in the assignment. If this becomes an issue, the group may seek help from their consultant mentor, faculty, or the student co-chairs.

10. What is the consultant mentor’s role? How much time have they committed to?

The consultant mentor assigned to each group is expected to provide guidance on the consulting process to the team as they encounter obstacles or begin to get off schedule. Additionally, the mentor may provide industry expertise.

Mentors can be expected to spend between 2 to 3 hours on the projects during the quarter. They are typically consultants with 2-5 years of experience.