As an Air Force veteran, Nathan Johnson, assistant professor of management and director of Western Carolina University's Master of Project Management Program, always has the military in mind when it comes to recruiting students to the two-year, online program.
According to Johnson, project management is tailor-made for military personnel. And that's why he tries to seek out both current and former military members as students.
"Military folks are working on projects every day, so our program is right up their alley," Johnson said. "That's just been a real push for us. We've been trying to let more military people know about our program and what a good fit it is. We're doing that through word of mouth with our current military people that are enrolled in the program, trying to get them to tell their colleagues."
Johnson reaches out to veterans whenever he attends meeting and events. Also helping with that is WCU Director of Military Student Services Briana Ford. Ford has noticed how the program has aided military students in their future careers.
"Our military student graduates with the Master of Project Management degree let me know their degree helped them land their job," Ford said. "Some get jobs in government, but others get jobs in industry. The program often allows the veteran to merge military training, experience and coursework to land a great job after graduation."
Of the six cohorts currently in the program, Johnson said he has military students from Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan and Washington, D.C. One reason Johnson believes military enrollment has grown is because of the addition of military experience into the admissions matrix used to gain entrance into the program.
The matrix gives points for things like work experience, GPA and test scores. It now includes military experience as a component. The program is two years, six semesters (Fall, Spring and Summer).
"We're covering all aspects of project management, from the communications side to the planning side, execution and even expectation management, stakeholder management, which is so huge in the military, having to manage expectations with your commanders," Johnson said.
"I just talked to one of my students recently," Johnson added. "He's been in the Coast Guard for 29 years. He told me the program has been highly relevant to him. He's gotten so much out of it. I talked to another student, he's in special operations. He said the content of the program has been invaluable to him. He's getting to put a lot of the stuff to use immediately in his unit."