Fitchburg State University Case Study

February 22, 2024

Case Studies

Located in North Central Massachusetts less than an hour from Boston, Fitchburg State University is well-situated next to densely populated metropolitan areas with many prospective students. At the same time, it competes with more than 100 two- and four-year colleges and universities or higher ed institutions within a 50-mile radius to serve those students.

Founded in 1894, the University is dedicated to integrating high-quality professional programs with strong liberal arts and sciences studies. The University has a long history of providing adult-based education and online programming. The University connected with AI» (AP) for assistance in expanding their online accelerated online programming.  

In line with its core values of accessibility, affordability, and excellence, Fitchburg State offers numerous high-quality, accredited online programs. Fitchburg State’s online MBA program is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) and is offered at a tuition of approximately $13,000, making it one of the most affordable MBA programs in the Northeast.

Fitchburg State is also deeply committed to meeting essential workforce needs in the immediate community and beyond. By offering nurses and teachers a way to advance their education through online programs, Fitchburg State University is helping to address critical shortages that impact populations at large.   

Since the beginning of its partnership with AP in 2017, Fitchburg State has expanded its portfolio of accelerated online programs to include:

  • MBA offered with eight concentrations, including healthcare management and supply chain management
  • Corresponding graduate certificate programs
  • Master of Education programs in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Leadership 
  • RN-to-BS in Nursing program

Most of the students enrolled in these programs are working adults who value the flexibility, affordability, and career relevance offered by online higher education, and Fitchburg State has structured its online programs to fulfill employer needs and meet students where they are on their career paths.

Enrollment in Fitchburg State’s online programs has grown five-fold from 2017 through 2022. Third-term persistence rates, a key metric used to project the likelihood of program completion, averaged 78.3%.*

Collaboration is a key component. The AP-Fitchburg State relationship is highly collaborative, with extensive cross-departmental communication and transparency. Fitchburg State University, like all AP partners, retains total control over decisions and functions related to admission, financial aid, curriculum, and instruction. The University utilizes AP’s comprehensive data to help align the programs with student expectations, as well as community and employer needs.  

The AP partnership has helped strengthen Fitchburg State’s ability to attract and retain students who have the highest propensity to benefit from, and succeed in, Fitchburg State’s online programs. AP’s data-driven approach to marketing has created more focused outreach to prospective students, and the dedicated Enrollment and Retention Services teams provide personalized follow-up that supports each student from initial outreach through program completion. 

In the highly competitive academic culture of New England, Fitchburg State University has succeeded in raising its brand visibility. By offering affordable, high-quality online programs, it has made a significant impact in preparing a greater number of students to make a difference in their communities, in the state, and beyond.

For Fall 2021, Fitchburg State ranked #6 in total online enrollment in Massachusetts, while its RN-BSN online program ranked #2 in the state, according to data from NC-SARA and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). For 2021 conferrals, the MBA online program ranked #5 in the state, outranked only by Harvard, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Boston University, and Babson College, according to Lightcast Data. Students from outside the region have taken note of the MBA program’s outstanding quality and value, as enrollees come from a multitude of states, including California, Texas, and Florida.     

The focus of the partnership is a shared mission. The AP-supported online programs are serving Fitchburg State University’s larger mission to be a community resource that provides leadership and support for the economic, environmental, social, and cultural needs of North Central Massachusetts and the Commonwealth. Resources from the online programs have helped support faculty professional development and research efforts.  The Fitchburg State/AP partnership continues to build on ways to sustain growth of workforce-relevant online programs and look for new opportunities to serve the needs of students and their communities.  

* AI» internal data. Third-term persistence rate is defined as the percentage of all students who are enrolled through the census date in their first term who are also enrolled through the census date in  two subsequent terms.

Go to Latest