Beyond the Hill

Arizona State business school to offer free MBA as it looks to increase diversity

Courtesy of ASU

The Arizona State University business school has announced it will offer its incoming MBA students the opportunity to apply for full-tuition scholarships.

A new initiative at the Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business is taking the high cost of receiving a Master’s in Business Administration entirely off the table for the incoming class of fall 2016 and every class after that.

The business school will be awarding about 120 full-tuition scholarships to next fall’s MBA students in hopes of funding its degrees in higher education and fostering a new, diverse class of graduates who maybe did not think an MBA was possible before now because of the price tag, said Amy Hillman, dean of the Carey School.

“We started to think about what the boundaries were for pursuing a graduate degree in business,” Hillman said. “You have an expensive tuition proposition and you don’t have other federal aid available.”

Hillman added that the initiative is being funded by money still available from a $50 million grant donated to the business school in 2003 by philanthropist and alumnus, William Polk Carey. The business school is now named after him.

While there are only 120 scholarships to give out, there are usually only 70-80 students in each class of the Carey School’s MBA program. The university likes having a tight-knit MBA community to foster student, faculty and staff relationships, Hillman said.

Hillman said she hopes those who normally could not afford to pursue higher education will be encouraged to apply and then hopefully receive acceptance.

The Carey School would like to see a more diverse group of students than normal, including women, minorities and even entrepreneurs who could benefit from an MBA but were planning to save their capital for a start-up, she added.

Every student that applies to the program is eligible for the scholarships, Hillman added. But that does not mean that every student is accepted.

“Full-time MBA programs are very competitive to get into, so while we’re taking the tuition part off the table, a student still needs to be very qualified to get in,” Hillman said.

The tuition coverage doesn’t apply to anyone already studying in the MBA program, but this hasn’t been a problem for attitudes among students, Hillman said. She added that current students have been “overwhelmingly” supportive of the initiative.

Andrew Stevens, a second-year student currently on track to receive his MBA from the Carey School, said while he still has to foot his own bills, he believes the full-tuition scholarships will help him in the long run, as well.

“I think anything that boosts up ASU as a school is a benefit to any student that goes here. It strengthens our degrees after we graduate,” Stevens said. “Just because I’m not in that class that receives the tuition benefit, I still think I receive the benefits of going to ASU.”

In order to carry on an initiative like this, Hillman said the Carey School understands that it will need to figure out more ways than just grant money to fund full-tuition scholarships year after year.

“Obviously we’re not going to be able to have philanthropy carry everyone’s tuition, but we’re increasingly looking for models of other people to pay for these experiences,” Hillman said.

Stevens said he hopes the university’s move creates a new precedent within the education industry.

“With so much talk, especially in politics, about trying to make education more affordable and accessible, what ASU is doing is such a leadership move,” Stevens said. “I think it’s going to bring in a stronger and more diverse student body. I really do hope it changes the landscape for education as a whole.”

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