The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy will launch an online masters degree in global business beginning in May 2019.
According to its website, students will be able to complete the new online degree program in 16 months or two years, with each student able to set their own pace. Applications are open for the program’s inaugural class.
The degree program, according to Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti, is aimed at working professionals who would not be able to attend Fletcher otherwise.
“Many people [don’t] have the luxury or the opportunity to study at a place like Tufts,” he said. “We don’t want them to be left out of the education process.”
Chakravorti said that students enrolled in the program may come from a wider variety of backgrounds than those receiving their degree on campus.
“We expect people who might be in a different part of the world or working and unable to take time off or have life circumstances that don’t give them an opportunity to attend class,” he said.
Chakravorti also said that as the new program was being developed, it was important to both maintain what works in traditional settings and explore the new opportunities an online program can offer.
“There are many elements of the university we want to recreate and allow the student to experience the school,” he said. “We can take students outside the classroom as well, to a situation in a very different part of the world. Technology lets us do a lot of things that might be difficult to do in a traditional setting.”
Executive Associate Dean of the Fletcher School Gerard Sheehan told the Daily in an email that the program follows from several recommendations in the school’s 2015 strategic plan including expanding Fletcher’s executive education offerings, developing a more diversified revenue stream and using technology in innovative ways.
Sheehan said that the online program could benefit those taking classes in Medford.
“[I’m most excited about] being able to use the latest and most advanced methods of content delivery and bring elements of that back into the residential programs at Fletcher,” Sheehan said, adding that he was excited about the opportunity to teach students who normally would be constrained from attending Fletcher.
Steven Block, professor and academic dean at Fletcher, echoed the impacts of the program for all Fletcher students.
“We’re the first ones in this online space, and I expect the program to grow rapidly and become a core strength of the Fletcher School,” he told the Daily in an email. “It’s also exciting to consider how our on-site training in Medford will benefit from the development of the new [online] curriculum.”
Kristen Zecchi, senior associate director for the master of international business program at Fletcher, said that the program was shaped specifically with mid-career students in mind.
Zecchi listed several questions central to the program.
“What are students in this program going to need for day-to-day analytics? What are students in this program going to need for international policy or business theory?” Zecchi said.
Zecchi noted a number of ways she and other developers shaped the program to be adaptable to its students. Her examples included providing students in the course with WeWork memberships to give them spaces to complete their work and meet their peers and utilizing both recorded lectures and live in-class time.
Block said the program follows larger trends in higher education.
“Fletcher’s new online master’s in global business administration puts Fletcher in the forefront of the coming wave of professional graduate education,” he said. “It will expand the Fletcher School’s global footprint, while also drawing greater attention to our residential programs.”