Arlington-based Strayer University is buying the business management college founded by the legendary former chief executive of General Electric, Jack Welch, to expand its bouquet of MBA programs.

Strayer Education, parent company of the university, would buy the Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI) from its current owner, Cleveland-based Chancellor University.

The purchase price is about $7 million, with Welch contributing about 30 percent, Strayer chief financial officer Mark Brown said in an interview.

“We had been exploring on our own the opportunity to offer an executive MBA program when we were contacted by Welch about potentially acquiring JWMI and offering the MBA program through that vehicle,” Brown said. Strayer already offers a traditional MBA program.

JWMI’s tuition is about $30,060, and Strayer’s MBA is priced at $26,715.

Founded by Welch in 2009 after his retirement from GE, JWMI offers online executive MBA degrees and certificate programs for professionals and corporates. It has about 200 students, Brown said.

Welch, known for transforming GE into the largest U.S. conglomerate, is a professor at the college and appears in weekly videos about business events, and he is involved in the preparation of the curriculum.

Strayer will start offering the JWMI programs from its winter term, Brown said. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2011.

Strayer has been struggling with enrollment declines for the past four quarters after tough new U.S. rules on student debt forced it to tighten admission standards.

The for-profit college, which offers working adults programs in accounting, business administration, information technology and criminal justice, had 54,233 students at the end of September, down 11 percent from the same term in 2010.

“At roughly 0.4 percent of Strayer’s enrollment, JWMI is a relatively small transaction, but a high profile one nonetheless, and a good complement to Strayer’s business focus,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Jeff Silber wrote in a client note.

Strayer continues to expand in other ways. It opened three new campuses for the fall term, including two in Chicago, new territory for the university. The third is in Dallas, where the school already operates on three campuses.

The school plans to open another eight campuses in 2012 and said it is moving forward with a 3 percent tuition hike in January.

— Reuters