For a long time, universities and their business schools had been indifferent towards franchising. It wasn’t an oversight that accounted for franchising never being taught in business schools. Business schools have just never seen the point: All its elements, they say — marketing, logistics, management — are taught in other classes. It had long been a source of frustration within the industry, at a time when the U.S. Labor Department released its latest proposal to create a new type of apprenticeships run by business groups and colleges.
Things are now starting to change at the college and university level. There has been a rise in courses and certifications focusing on business format franchising by several large and reputed universities across the U.S. According to an unpublished review of 300 business schools in the U.S., 16 have listed at least one course devoted to franchising since 2010, and only two courses in franchising are taught at the graduate level in the entire country.
In 2018, the University of Louisville’s College of Business launched an online franchise management program, covering topics such as franchise law and human resources management, and franchisors and franchisees are being tapped to help build the instructional staff. Georgetown University in Washington DC offers a certificate course in franchise management that provides a comprehensive overview of the franchise sector with analytical skills required to succeed in franchising, as well. Other established university franchise programs include The Franchise Center at the University of Texas at El Paso, The International Institute for Franchise Education at Nova Southeastern University’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship, University of Maryland University College, the Titus Franchising Center at Palm Beach Atlantic University, etc. Several others, including Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, are launching new courses.
Academic programs in franchising also have the potential to help franchisors, as they expand the pool of potential franchise candidates that brands can tap into. This is why Dunkin’ Donuts founder William Rosenberg endowed what would become the Rosenberg International Franchise Center at the University of New Hampshire or why former IFA chair Aziz Hashim, CEO of NRD Holdings, endowed a chair in franchise entrepreneurship at Georgia State University. And Greg Longe of the Huntington Company, which owns several franchise brands, lobbied for Northwood University to create its franchise major.
Interestingly, franchise businesses have had apprenticeship and workforce development programs in place for years and continue to work hard to address an emerging shortage of skilled workers. In a study of 1,600 new franchise concepts that started in the last five years, 25% of the founders of these businesses had previously worked in franchising either as a franchisee, employees of franchisees or employees of franchisors.