Masakazu Hasegawa, senior general manager for Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., has worked in international banking for more than 35 years. When he was 58 years old, he decided to go back to school for his MBA.

“My wife, who has her MBA, said, ‘Why don’t you try something instead of playing golf on the weekend?’” Hasegawa recalls with a smile.

Based in London at the time, Hasegawa discovered that he could earn an MBA online from UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business through its partnership with Abitus, an executive education firm based in Tokyo.

“Everybody knows UMass, so it was very attractive. And it was important that it was accredited by the AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business),” he says of UML’s online MBA, which is ranked ninth nationally by Fortune.

Hasegawa was among 67 Abitus students — the largest contingent ever — who traveled nearly 7,000 miles from Japan to participate in the university’s 2023 Commencement exercises.

“I feel accomplished — very proud,” says Hasegawa, who completed the degree in two years. “It was a big commitment, but it’s never too late to learn.”

Since launching in 2012 with 30 students, the Abitus partnership has grown steadily, with 91 students earning their MBAs this year. Overall, more than 700 students, mostly midcareer managers and executives, have completed the program — which has nearly 450 students enrolled for the fall 2023 semester.