Online MBA graduates travel 7,000 miles to receive degrees
LOWELL, Mass. – As a communications manager at Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., a global leader in the field, Tomoe Yoshida decided it was time to get her master’s degree in business administration.
To her surprise, Yoshida discovered she could get her MBA online from UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business through its partnership with Abitus, an executive education firm based in Tokyo. Pursuing an online degree suited her well, as she began raising her family in 2017 shortly after enrolling in the program.
"It was great for me, as I could not study during the day and had to study while my child was sleeping. I needed a situation where I could think carefully and give my opinion to classmates regardless of the time of day. UMass Lowell gave me that opportunity by providing online courses," she said.
Yoshida – who received the Abitus Outstanding Student Award this year – was among more than three dozen students who recently traveled nearly 7,000 miles from Japan to participate in UMass Lowell’s Commencement exercises, including a ceremony at the Manning School during which the degree candidates received academic hoods to signify the completion of their degrees.
The group of Abitus students was the largest to make the trip in the program’s history. Since launching in 2012, the partnership has grown steadily, with nearly 150 students enrolling this academic year. Overall, more than 500 students, mostly midcareer managers and executives, have taken part in the 42-credit degree program over the past seven years.
“Participants in the Abitus program are working professionals in outstanding roles, many employed by leading global companies. As such, they bring a distinct perspective and appreciate how our faculty is able to integrate their valuable work experience into classroom discussions and projects, enriching them for all of our students,” said Manning School of Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer.
The MBA program is specifically designed to accommodate professionals’ schedules, as many students have commitments around the world.
“The partnership continues to be extremely successful thanks to the flexibility of the courses and the outstanding reputation of the university’s online programs,” said Assistant Dean Leticia Porter, who manages the Manning School’s graduate programs.
The Manning School MBA is ranked as one of the best online programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and Poet & Quants, a website devoted to the graduate business education market.
For the first six months of the Abitus program, students attend foundation classes at a campus in Tokyo on Saturdays with Japanese instructors who use UMass Lowell’s curriculum. The remainder of the classes are conducted online by Manning School faculty.
During their visit to campus, several Abitus graduates toured UMass Lowell’s Pulichino Tong Business Center, which houses the Manning School, and met some of their professors face-to-face for the first time.
“Thanks to my family supporting me, I was able to take on this big challenge. When I started the program, my dream was to take my family to attend the graduation ceremony together and that dream came true,” Yoshida said. “I’m proud I graduated from UMass Lowell, which equipped me with the tools to become a world-class and innovative leader.”