Two-Year MBA Leadership Expeditions

Leadership Expeditions and Excursions are a chance to practice, rather than just talk about, real leadership.

Expeditions and excursions are designed to give students the opportunity to practice leadership and followership, getting feedback on their efforts. Focusing on their leadership full-time for the duration of the experience gives students the opportunity to go through the Johnson leadership learning cycle of instruction, experience, and review multiple times in an intensive, condensed time frame.

On expeditions and excursions, students can expect to:

  • experience ambiguity and adversity;
  • be forced to make decisions with incomplete, inconclusive, and/or conflicting information;
  • take turns assuming full responsibility for the entire group; and,
  • receive real-time feedback and coaching on their leadership efforts.
students hiking on a snowy hill in Patagonia, Chile


Expeditions are trips ranging 7-10 days which allow students to focus full-time on their leadership skills. Cohorts live and work together to meet their objectives. Leadership Expeditions are a 1.5 credit academic course requiring pre- and post-expedition classroom sessions. Students learn a custom curriculum to support their field leadership experiences. Because the expedition is an academic class, MBAs may only take one expedition during their MBA career. While the application environment varies, students in leadership expeditions learn the same content and face similar types of leadership challenges.

  • Patagonia -A student cohort will spend 10 days in the backcountry of Chilean Patagonia. Leadership and followership skills are developed and tested in the unpredictable, challenging, and dynamic wilderness environment. Johnson partners with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for expedition.
  • Scuba Diving in the Bahamas – Students will spend a week living an working together on a boat in the Bahamas, leading and following in the unpredictable underwater environment. Simple things on land, like communication, require a different approach underwater, and allow students to test their leadership in an environment in which they may never have led before. This expedition is led in partnership with Cornell Outdoor Education.
students canoeing on a lake


Excursions are shorter trips, lasting a few days. On excursions, students can still expect to push themselves and gain valuable leadership learnings, but in a more compressed time frame.

  • Adirondacks -The group will spend three days taking turns leading while canoeing and camping in the Saranac Lakes. In addition to experiencing the natural beauty of the Adirondacks region, students receive real-time feedback on their leadership and followership efforts. This program is run in partnership with Cornell Outdoor Education.
  • USMC Quantico -This cohort will spend 24 hours experiencing military leadership. Participants will navigate and perform in ambiguous, chaotic, and extremely time-sensitive situations during a rigorous leadership training at the United States Marine Corps Base Quantico. This program is run in partnership with the Wharton School and the US Marine Corps.
Bryson Saez

It comes back to the focus. When you're really uncomfortable, can you get the job done? Can you listen to your leader, can you pay attention to your teammates, can you focus on the goal? In extreme situations, how do you perform?

Bryson Saez, MBA ’14
Venus Yam

Navigating the team from one island to another with a compass and map in hand forced me to lean on others and make decisions under uncertainty.

Venus Yam, MBA ’16
Conrad Camody MBA 23

I got to practice leadership in a completely different environment – underwater. [It] took me out of my comfort zone but in a positive way [and] Really showed how important alignment is before starting a task.

Conrad Camody, MBA ‘23
Nora Hansanugrum

The removal of distractions and the simplification of being immersed in the wilderness made it easier to identify aspects of my leadership that need further development, as well as to find the salient strengths I already possess.

Nora Hansanugrum, MBA ’13
Jamie Hunt

A NOLS expedition provides a unique opportunity to fail, to give and receive face-to-face feedback, and to reflect.

Jamie Hunt, MBA ’13 and NOLS instructor