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August 27, 2015


Simmons College Main Building (Suffolk University).

Simmons College is moving four of its graduate degree programs online, including the nation’s only MBA designed specifically for women.

Like many women’s colleges, Simmons is facing stiff headwinds: low revenue and dropping enrollment. President Helen Drinan says enrollment in the College’s business program decreased by nearly 40 percentage points over the past two years.

"It was a constant downward trend. Constant," says Drinan.

According to Drinan, that's partly because businesswomen have busy schedules. In order to accommodate that and bring in more students, Simmons will go online, and market its classes to both men and women. 

EarlierLights, Camera, Classroom: Harvard Business School Goes Virtual

 As one of the program's earliest graduates, Drinan doesn't think anything will be lost in the transition.

"Our curriculum is the only business curriculum in the country that has been designed with women in mind, providing women protagonists in cases that are studied, so that we're not only looking at the experience through the eyes of a man, but also through the eyes of a woman," she says.

As a senior analyst with the higher ed research firm Eduventures, Max Woolf agrees. He says online learning will allow Simmons to further distinguish itself in a very competitive market.

"I think this is really the savior that will allow them to keep that program around," says Woolf.

Simmons will also move three other graduate programs online: health care, communications and applied behavior analysis. The College’s all-women undergraduate programs will still be based in traditional classrooms.

Related: Women’s Colleges Struggle To Survive In Shifting Higher Ed Landscape

new business models, technology and innovation, global competitiveness, simmons

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