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Northwood University Pioneers Undergraduate Major in Franchising Management

New university program to provide courses leading to bachelor of business administration degree.

Northwood University has launched an innovative, new bachelor’s degree program in franchising management; the first of its kind.

The program focuses on preparing graduates for success in franchising whether as franchisors or franchisees. The courses leading to a bachelor of business administration degree cover the basics of business and general education, as well as areas specific to franchising such as business models, legal and compliance issues, new venture finance, international franchising, and commercial and real estate law.
Northwood welcomed its first students into this pioneering degree this fall. “I was drawn to this major because there are so many opportunities for careers,” said Taylor Williams, a freshman from Cheboygan, Mich., “Northwood is probably the best university I could have chosen. The franchising management major allows me to learn all aspects of the business.”

Williams initially sees herself as a franchisee, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of becoming a franchisor someday. “I can be really creative. I might come up with a franchising concept someday. The possibilities are endless.”

“With the extraordinary opportunities, the students enrolled in the program are excited about becoming part of the global franchising industry,” said professor Jim Hop, chairman of Northwood’s Franchising Management Department. “They are looking forward to making their mark as franchisees, multi-unit franchisees and franchisors.”

Hop emphasized the practical nature of the Northwood education: “What makes Northwood different is our approach to educating our students,” he said. “Northwood students begin taking classes in their major from Day One and continue each semester until graduation. Our business professors have professional experience in their fields, in addition to being educators, which provides our students with direct and relevant skills and experiences not found elsewhere.”

“I have had the good fortune of knowing and working with the leadership of Northwood for the past 30 years through their work with the automotive aftermarket,” said former CEO of Driven Brands and International Franchise Association 2010-2011 Chairman Ken Walker, CFE. “I was therefore very pleased and excited to learn the university will bring the same skill set and dedication to their degree in franchising. Franchising is at the very heart of small business which puts it at the very essence of our free-enterprise system.”

“We specialize in entrepreneurial education, and saw a need to develop the future leaders of the franchising industry through an accredited degree program,” said Northwood Pres. and CEO Keith Pretty. “We recognize the major role franchising plays in the global economy and it was a natural way for us to extend our mission, which is to develop the future leaders of a global, free-enterprise society.”

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About Northwood University

Founded in 1959, Northwood University is a private, not-for-profit university that has a global footprint. It not only has residential campuses in Midland, Mich., West Palm Beach, Fla. and the Dallas area, but also offers degree completion online and at more than 20 centers across the United States, as well as five international locations: two in the People’s Republic of China and one each in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.

It was a perfect fit for us to partner with the IFA and franchising experts in developing the content of this new degree. Partnering with different industries is part of Northwood’s unique DNA as a university.
ICFE Board member Mark Liston, CFE, president of Glass Doctor said, “Finally there is one school that ‘gets it’ to make this a major.”

Kristin Stehouwer, Ph.D., is executive vice president/COO/chief academic officer for Northwood University.

Kristin Stehouwer, Ph.D., is executive vice president/COO/chief academic officer for Northwood University.

Taking a page from the franchise industry, Northwood will host Discovery Days this spring at both its Midland, Mich. (March 19) and West Palm Beach, Fla. (March 25) campuses. The university will invite IFA members to its Discovery Days to help them learn more about this unique program, how it supports the franchise industry, and how they can become involved as guest speakers. It’s truly a win-win opportunity.
In conjunction with launching this leading-edge program, Northwood is establishing the first collegiate chapter of the IFA with the national student business organization, DECA. “Our students get hands-on experience and are master networkers even before they graduate,” added Pretty. “We prepare the whole student for business and personal success through our holistic approach to business education.”

“The Northwood philosophy lends itself to great self-employment and leadership careers, but I would contend it’s really just part of the magic at Northwood,” said bizzie Pres. Greg Longe. “As a parent, the magic at Northwood is the care and attention each student receives from all of the faculty, administration and staff during their all-important educational experience. As a proud father of two Northwood students, one finished and now our second son or ‘expansion’ if you will, I can tell you firsthand this is the place for all of the IFA members to rally around. I certainly will continue to do so.”

Kristin Stehouwer, Ph.D., is executive vice president/COO/chief academic officer for Northwood University. She can be reached at


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