Enrollment has increased tenfold in Longwood University’s newly revamped MBA program since it was launched in summer 2020.
How did they do it? They practice what they teach.
They did their research. They listened to their customers. They threw out constraints, emphasized flexibility and designed a program that filled a need.
Driving that strategy is Dr. David Lehr, who was tapped as the MBA program director in 2020.
We found through our research that there’s a growing need to provide access for students who have not been part of the graduate business education experience in the past.Dr. David Lehr, MBA program director Tweet This
“We first wanted to find the unmet needs in the market for graduate business education,” said Lehr, a longtime professor of economics. “We found through our research that there’s a growing need to provide access for students who have not been part of the graduate business education experience in the past. Maybe the obstacle was admissions requirements or affordability or just a lack of information.”
Longwood welcomes students from all educational areas—not just those that are business-related, Lehr said. “We want students with lots of different undergraduate degrees and professional experiences.”
The academic tracks were updated, adding marketing and data analytics to the existing tracks in general business and real estate.
With a focus on flexibility, the program tossed out the semester system in favor of a schedule comprising six seven-week terms per year, and the curriculum was streamlined so that students don’t get stuck in prerequisite requirements.
The MBA seemed interesting. I had no business or finance background, but I have always pushed myself and been willing to step outside my comfort zone.Michael Cohen, MBA Student Tweet This
Students can attend full time (two courses per term) or part time (one course per term). Full-time students can complete a degree in 10 months.
The icing is that Longwood’s program is AACSB-accredited, a credential that speaks loudly to the quality of the program and that often is required by employers for tuition reimbursement benefits, Lehr said.
“The diversity among our current students is enormous,” said Lehr. “We’ve got people who majored in political science and music. We’ve got teachers, school principals, nurses and small business owners.”
Michael Cohen, who majored in music as an undergraduate, is one of those students.
“I wanted to do something to be more marketable with the master’s degree,” said Cohen, who works full time as a loan specialist, trainer and team lead for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “The MBA seemed interesting. I had no business or finance background, but I have always pushed myself and been willing to step outside my comfort zone.”
Our faculty love meeting students where they are and helping them move forward.Dr. David Lehr, MBA program director Tweet This
For students who need help getting up to speed for graduate business courses, Longwood not only has the resources to make that happen but also the kind of environment where students can thrive.
“For a lot of these students, the existing market honestly was massive online courses. That’s not who we are, and we don’t think that kind of product serves those students well. These students need a program that really cares and faculty who focus on building academic relationships.
“Given Longwood’s reputation for being student-centered, we are in a good position,” said Lehr. “Our faculty love meeting students where they are and helping them move forward.”
“If you want to hit that sweet spot of the flexibility of an online program, the personal experience of a campus program and the quality academics of faculty teaching in an accredited program—that’s what we offer,” said Lehr.