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LAKELAND (Feb. 15, 2021) – Florida Southern College and Florida Polytechnic University announced today an exclusive public-private partnership that will allow Florida Poly students to earn a STEM bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration from Florida Southern in five years or less.

The new partnership is the first of its kind in the region, offering a direct and affordable path from a high-demand undergraduate degree at Florida Poly to the renowned MBA degree at FSC through an expansion of its existing 4+1 MBA Program.

“We welcome this groundbreaking academic partnership with Florida Polytechnic University, which will greatly enhance the career potential of qualifying students as it strengthens our important ties with leading local businesses and our Fortune 100 partners,” said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern College. “Our outstanding MBA program is recognized on a regular basis in some of the most influential national rankings.”

The collaboration between the two premier Lakeland institutions provides a response to the market’s request for the development of highly skilled professionals who are ready to thrive and lead across a wide range of industries. Students who complete the 4+1 MBA Program are expected to be able to move into management at a fast pace and excel in leadership positions early in their careers, while contributing to the economic development of the region and the state.

“We’re very excited about this partnership with Florida Southern College,” said Randy K. Avent, president of Florida Poly. “It will give our students a remarkable opportunity to earn two degrees from two nationally ranked institutions in a very short amount of time. The combination of a Florida Poly STEM degree and a Florida Southern MBA will elevate these students’ career trajectories and open the door for limitless possibilities.” 

Continuing Florida Poly undergraduates who meet minimum testing qualifications and establish a record of academic achievement can apply in their junior year for early acceptance to the 4+1 MBA Program, and complete nine credit hours of graduate work with Florida Southern prior to finishing their bachelor’s degree. They then continue to a single year of study at Florida Southern to complete their master’s degree. Automatic direct admission to the 4+1 MBA Program is awarded and GMAT/GRE admission testing to Florida Southern is waived for incoming Florida Poly freshmen who meet SAT or ACT requirements and maintain a 3.25 GPA. Incoming transfer students who apply to Florida Poly with a minimum 3.25 GPA must maintain a cumulative 3.25 GPA throughout their undergraduate program.

“The prospect of this agreement makes enormous sense for both institutions and demonstrates that our collective global reach starts with strong roots in Polk County,” said Tom Dvorske, vice provost of academic affairs. “Florida Poly students’ technical savvy combined with the business acumen of the nationally recognized FSC MBA will produce students capable of transformative leadership for central Florida and the state.”

“Joining these two premier programs will produce outstanding graduates who will make a substantial impact on our community and our economy, while also saving students time and money,” said Dr. Michael Weber, dean of the School of Business at Florida Southern.

In its 2021 Report Card, Poets&Quants highlighted Florida Southern’s No. 1 national ranking in Quality of Teaching in Business Courses, as rated by alumni. FSC’s Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise also has been ranked as a Top 100 MBA program by U.S. News & World Report for 2021 and is included for a fourth consecutive year as one of the nation’s best on-campus MBA programs in The Princeton Review’s prestigious annual college guide, Best Business Schools for 2021

“I am thrilled to see this partnership launch,” said Dr. Brad Hollingshead, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Florida Southern College. “Combining the strengths of our two great schools will provide both students and the region with opportunities that could not be realized in any other way. It is a really powerful collaboration.”

After only six years in existence, Florida Poly made its first appearance in the national rankings of the U.S News & World Report as a top 75 engineering college without a doctorate degree, and in the top 40 of those that are public – the only institution in this category in the state of Florida. The University was also recognized as No. 14 in student career outcomes, right behind Harvard and ahead of Stanford University, in WalletHub’s 2021’s Best College and University Rankings report.

“Business is all about engineering and technology, and that is what Florida Poly does best,” said Ben Matthew Corpus, vice provost of enrollment at Florida Poly. “Partnering with Florida Southern for their nationally recognized MBA program means our students are prepared for advanced leadership mobility after only one year. Together, we are providing excellence, advancement, and affordability at a time when these skills are in significant demand.”

Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern College, and Randy K. Avent, president of Florida Polytechnic University, celebrate the exclusive new partnership that expands FSC’s 4+1 MBA Program to offer a direct and affordable path from an undergraduate degree at Florida Poly to a master’s degree at FSC. (Photos by Jordan Weiland)

About Florida Southern College

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in the state. It maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, nursing, and physical therapy. Florida Southern has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the top 10 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 “Best Colleges” guide, and is included in The Princeton Review’s 2021 “386 Best Colleges” guide, the “Fiske Guide to Colleges 2021,” and Forbes magazine’s “America’s Top Colleges.” Home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, FSC was twice named “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” by The Princeton Review, and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest. Connect with Florida Southern College.

About Florida Polytechnic University

Florida Polytechnic University is a nationally ranked Top 100 engineering college, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the only state university dedicated exclusively to STEM and offers ABET-accredited degrees. Florida Poly is a powerful economic engine within the state of Florida, blending applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. Florida Poly’s iconic Innovation, Science, and Technology Building,designed by world-renowned architect Dr. Santiago Calatrava, has won more than 20 global awards and was named one of the 16 Most Breathtaking Buildings in the world.Connect with Florida Poly.

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