This August, Goshen College will begin collaborating with Eastern Mennonite University and Bluffton University to offer an online Masters’ of business administration degree, an MBA. The program is organized to take 18 students at a time, in cohorts.

“It’s been a few years in the making,” said Michelle Horning, professor of accounting.

According to Horning, the business departments from the three colleges first discussed collaborating to offer a master’s degree about four years ago. From there, the plan morphed into what it is today: an online, 36-hour program for students who want to earn an MBA from any of the three colleges.

Initially, business faculty from the three institutions spent a lot of time just having phone conversations. They needed to organize financial aid, the admissions process and coursework.

“It was a matter of figuring out how all the pieces fit together,” Horning said.

The degree program will “capitalize on Anabaptist values,” Horning said, “because it is important to be able to offer something different.”

One of their main difficulties in the organizational stage was developing coursework that would balance a solid program in business with special content that would distinguish this degree from others.

The theme “Leadership for the common good” emerged as a synthesis of their desire to capitalize on Anabaptist values and meet the requirements for a typical business degree.

Professors who organized the program geared it towards people who have already moved into the workforce. For instance, in order to be admitted into the program prospective students must submit a recommendation from someone who can attest to the student’s academic qualifications and a current supervisor.

The admissions process for the program is split between the three different schools. Before students get admitted they must choose from which school they want to earn their degree. One of the best parts of the program is that students can enroll anywhere since it is almost entirely online.

Eastern Mennonite University’s business department handles the initial admissions process, and then routs students to the respective faculty in the school of their choice.

Once they begin studies, students have to take nine core courses and then they can concentrate in any of several different areas.

According to Horning, that is where the unique specialties of each of the three institutions can come into play.

For instance, Goshen College’s business department offers a unique focus on intercultural leadership. Students interested in that area can take courses from GC as their concentration.

Eastern Mennonite University’s world-famous conflict studies program is also available as a concentration.

Collaboration between the three institutions that are involved is key; if only GC offered an MBA program, six faculty members would have to teach all the courses. As it stands, over 20 faculty members from all three colleges offer courses within their areas of expertise.

Since the degree program operates using the cohort system and they only treat 18 students per cohort, they will be able to take a new group every year, starting in August 2014.