New York. Milan. Paris. Farmville?
According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year, retail is behind one in every four jobs in the U.S. Retail is no longer just about fashion – supply chain management, sustainability, human resources, finance and security all are huge components of $74 billion industry.
“There is a prominent role in retail for general managers and entrepreneurs who can be both creative and analytical,” said Matt Kaness, a 2002 Darden MBA and executive director at Urban Outfitters in a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article. “The trend towards e-commerce is the enabler, and the use of technology to analyze so much data fits neatly with an MBA training and skill set.”
Two years ago, Longwood decided to move its MBA program online after struggling to find an audience in a satellite campus in Richmond, Va. or at its home campus in Farmville.
“The Richmond Retail Merchants Association had a need for education for people in management,” said Abbey O’Connor, assistant dean and MBA director in the Longwood College of Business and Economics. “We worked with them to create a concentration, and that’s where the program started.” Today, the school is an university partner with the National Retail Federation.
The Longwood MBA program is a cohorted program. Students in the general business concentration can study either full- or part-time. Completion time for full-time students is approximately 15 months, and is geared toward students just completing their undergraduate studies. Part-time students, which included the retail management concentration, graduate in two years. Students work in small groups (20 students per cohort), utilizing Blackboard for a primarily asynchronous program. There is an on-campus requirement (Thursday through Sunday, each summer), where students interact with faculty and network with peers. While students are on campus, case studies and other programs are centered around a theme (i.e. creativity and innovation was the theme of the most recent on-campus session, which ran in mid-July). There are three total residencies.
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In the coming months, O’Connor says the school would like to strengthen the supply chain component of the program.
“We’re seeing how important supply chain management it is more and more these days with business becoming more global,” said O’Connor. “Almost everybody has a need for some expertise in supply chain management and logistics.”
–Alanna Stage, @AlannaTweets