GME: Today & Tomorrow Fall 2019

Do you recommend that other colleges take the same approach, especially in regard to the specialty master’s programs? MW: To be clear, a number of other colleges and universities had launched these types of programs before we did. What I think made ours so successful was that we were very strategic about it. We started by asking ourselves questions like, “How do we launch a program that fills a niche within the Penn State community, within Pennsylvania as a whole and maybe within the local area? How do we launch a program that helps support the goals of faculty who want to teach certain subjects? And finally — since after all we are a business college and we do use revenue as a measure of success in the marketplace — how do we launch a program that increases revenue?” So if I could offer any advice to other programs, I’d suggest that they look at the portfolio of programs they offer and examine which ones are there because of strategic reasons and which ones were launched for no other reason than maybe there was a faculty member who was championing the idea or they just had the capability so they figured, why not? I think that a lot of schools could take a harder look at the “whys” behind what they’re doing and then fine-tune what they already have.

How do you see BusinessCAS fitting into all this? MW: As the application process and the prospective pool gets to be more competitive, we want to position ourselves to be able to reach as many of those prospects as we can. I think having BusinessCAS as a single point of communication and data analysis is going to be helpful. The other thing I think BusinessCAS does really well is it provides a wealth of data on people who aren’t necessarily captured in the GMAC annual trends report — for example, people who don’t take the GMAT. It’s not always a program requirement, especially for online programs. So those people typically get overlooked. Then there are the non-traditional students who are coming in with eight to 10 years of work experience into something like an executive program. All of these types of individuals may not be reflected in the GMAC report. I see BusinessCAS as potentially a way to help us include people who may not be reflected in the GMAC report and to start to pull some interesting data out of that broader set of individuals. In that way, I see BusinessCAS helping us — and helping graduate management education overall — by giving us the ability to look through a wider, better lens at trends, so that we can, in turn, make more strategically based decisions in our efforts to stay viable and competitive.

I see BusinessCAS helping us — and helping graduate management education overall — by giving us the ability to look through a wider, better lens at trends, so that we can, in turn, make more strategically based decisions in our efforts to stay viable and competitive.

Photo credit: Jennifer Neal

small, used to take up to about 100 students per year. But we decided to limit the cohort down to 60 students. Most MBA programs don’t cap their enrollment, so that was an unusual step, but it’s paid off. For the last four years now, we’ve been capped at 60. And each year, we’ve been able to get right up to that number, maximizing our enrollment numbers. 3) We launched a specialty master’s program. We wanted to make sure people still came to Penn State and viewed it as a destination for graduate study. We also had to consider how to offset the revenue losses that came from slimming down the MBA and adding fellowships. So we launched a number of these one-year specialty master’s, which have proven to be extraordinarily successful. We had one that we launched two years ago that is almost at full enrollment already — very uncommon for a new program. We have two more resident specialty master’s starting this coming year. On top of all that we also have online programs that are attracting students as well.

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GME: Today & Tomorrow | Fall 2019

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