Utah Valley University plans to compete with neighboring Brigham Young University for MBA hopefuls, as the newest public university just recently added the competitive degree program to its roster.

"This is a great day for Utah Valley University, but also a great day for the Utah Valley community and the greater region that we serve as an institution," UVU President Matthew Holland said after the state governing Board of Regents approved the move last week. The Woodbury School of Business will now vie for the attention of some of the region's MBA wannabes with its own accredited program.

According to Business Week magazine, which ranks MBA schools across the country annually, BYU serves more than 900 in its graduate-level business programs every year, including working students enrolled in executive training modules. BYU also offers master's degrees in electronic commerce/information systems and public administration.

UVU will begin accepting graduate students to its new Master of Business Administration program for the fall 2010 semester. It is the third graduate degree program to be offered at the school, which gained university status July 1, 2008.

"It signals the seriousness of what's happening at UVU," Holland said. "We've done what we said we would do at the onset of the university initiative in terms of carefully building graduate programs that are in high demand in our service area and support our core teaching mission. This program certainly fits that mold."

UVU's Master of Education program began in fall 2008 and the first group for the Master of Science in Nursing program will begin classes this fall.

Only 40 students will be accepted for the first MBA class at UVU, as Utah State University begins phasing out its distance learning MBA program in Utah County. USU has offered its MBA program on UVU's campus for the past 15 years.

"We fully expect to pick up the strong MBA program they have built and to carry the momentum forward," said UVU vice president of academic affairs Elizabeth Hitch.

UVU's program will offer two tracks, one in general management and the other in accounting, and both tracks will focus on UVU's signature engaged learning style, according to Ian Wilson, dean of UVU's Woodbury School of Business.

"Students will be involved in community development projects in a very hands-on way," he said. A final course in the program will divide students into teams, which are then responsible for creating and implementing local efforts for community development, which Wilson said "fits with our university's mission and is unique to our program."

Regents also recently approved new major, minor and integrated studies emphasis in finance at UVU.

The Woodbury School was expanded with a $20 million donation in 2007, intending to put UVU's program "on the map," as W. Richard Woodbury, president of Woodbury Corp., said, announcing the gift. "We have a vision that Utah Valley University will have a business school and be a university that is equivalent or better than any other university."

Applications for UVU's new MBA program will be available Sept. 1 and are due Feb. 15, 2010.