Arkansas State University Case Study

December 19, 2023

Case Studies

Arkansas State University, a public research institution, is the second largest in its state and the flagship of its system. It is also one of Academic Partnership’s longest-term partners, having launched its first AP-supported online program, a graduate education degree, in 2007.

Building on the initial success of this program, A-State has continued its partnership with AP, strategically adding multiple accelerated online programs supported by AP. As of July 2023, the A-State-AP online portfolio numbered 139 programs, including associate, bachelor’s, graduate and postgraduate degrees, and certificate programs spanning business, communications, education, healthcare, social sciences, technology, and engineering.

But something was missing from this high-performing portfolio. An accelerated online MBA program.

The University was already enrolling students in its online MBA program, but not in numbers the University hoped for. A-State and AP discussed ways to enhance the program’s appeal for working professionals. These included:

  • Building on the existing online program but shifting the traditional online format from semester-long courses to an accelerated model offering two course starts per semester, allowing students to complete their MBA more quickly
  • Keeping tuition affordable—and focusing on cost competitiveness in comparison to similar online MBAs in the marketplace
  • Streamlining admission requirements by waiving prerequisites and broadening the student GPA required for acceptance

It was also important for the University to extend the AACSB-accredited quality of the business school’s programs to the accelerated online MBA. The business school accomplished this goal by scheduling the traditional MBA in parallel with the online MBA so that the same faculty are teaching the same courses simultaneously in class and online.

In speaking about A-State’s success in offering online programs such as their MBA designed to meet the personal and career goals of nontraditional students, Arkansas State’s Chancellor, Todd Shields said, “Being attentive to what the students need and what the employers need—that’s where the magic happens.”

The results? A-State’s online MBA has been consistently ranked among the best online MBA programs with stellar marks in student engagement and faculty credentials, while enrollment growth in the accelerated online programs has dramatically increased.

When the accelerated online MBA was launched in May 2022, 65 students were enrolled in the online program. By May 2023, just 12 months later, the program boasted 285 enrolled students—and continues to grow. This represents an outstanding enrollment growth rate of 338%.

The MBA’s new flexibility and cost-effective characteristics have made it attractive to nontraditional adult students who want to advance their business career credentials via an accelerated online MBA. A-State’s MBA program is now the largest in the state.    

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