The University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) is one of the three regional public universities comprising the University of Illinois system.
UIS was an early adopter of online education and launched its first online program 25 years ago. It was among the first universities in the U.S. to recognize the potential of this modality to expand higher education access to underserved populations.
Somnath “Som” Bhattacharya, Dean of the UIS College of Business and Management, worked with Academic Partnerships to leverage AP’s expertise in launching a diverse portfolio of accelerated online business and technology programs.
“By partnering with an OPM, we were able to leverage their ability to make significant upfront investments in [expanding] our online programs,” said Bhattacharya.
With the collaboration and support of AP, UIS launched an MBA general program, three MBA concentrations, and an M.S. in Finance in October 2021.
Over the next 12 months, AP and the University worked together to launch six additional MBA concentrations, two M.S. business programs, three M.S. technology programs, four graduate business certificates, and five graduate technology certificates. The programs were laser-focused on expanding student access to education in high-demand fields that offered the potential for substantial growth opportunities. The online initiative included business analytics, cybersecurity (administration and management), supply chain management, healthcare informatics and more.
Enrollment results for UIS have exceeded expectations. The University’s initial goal was 300 enrollments by the end of a three-year term. Within the first 12 months, the AP-UIS partnership had already achieved approximately 97% of that goal, with 291 total enrollments. Moreover, within less than two years, enrollment was at 543 as of September 2023 – almost double the initial goal.
Student engagement and retention were also strong, with third-term persistence rates, which are strongly correlated to program completion rates, at 72% for 2023 through August.
From 2021 to 2023, overall enrollment in graduate business programs grew by 55%, with online programs comprising 23% of the total graduate business school enrollment. Today the College of Business and Management is leading growth at UIS.
Online programs have strengthened impact. The positive response to the University’s online portfolio has enabled UIS to fund new initiatives, including some supporting the professional development activities of faculty. In addition, by reaching nontraditional students, the University has increased its visibility and impact.
“Our ultimate goal is to prepare students to be committed to, and capable of, improving to the next step of their career aspirations,” added Dr. Bhattacharya. “Expanding our online portfolio has enabled us to reach underserved populations, while also providing us with additional resources for the College.”
Contributing to the success of the partnership is a transparent, cohesive working relationship in which the capabilities and expertise of both AP and UIS are fully aligned for maximum impact and efficiency. UIS has worked closely with AP to streamline operational efficiencies to better serve the needs of busy working adults enrolling in online programs.
In addition to growing enrollments in existing programs, AP and UIS are actively engaged in researching new opportunities to expand the University’s online initiative.