Nonprofit-Bound? This Elite B-School May Pay Your Tuition

Chicago Booth has announced a major expansion for a small program, hoping to draw more interest from those headed to the government/nonprofit sector. Booth photo

Here’s one for the civic-minded. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is expanding a scholarship program that pays all or some of the tuition for nonprofit- or government-bound MBAs. Booth has announced the expansion of the Civic Scholars program, which offers advanced coursework for professionals in the nonprofit and government sectors, growing the program from a full-tuition scholarship for Weekend MBA students to a full- or partial-tuition scholarship for any qualified student in the Full-Time, Evening, or Weekend MBA programs.

Six Neubauer Civic Scholars have graduated from the program to date, and an additional 21 are currently enrolled as MBA candidates. Chicago Booth announced it will increase its annual intake of Neubauer Civic Scholars by 50% in the coming year and will double the cohort size by the fall of 2022.

Tuition at the Booth School, recently ranked No. 1 in the United States for the second year in a row by The Economist, is $72,000 annually, as it was last year. That puts Booth comfortably in the upper middle of the top 25. In terms of total cost, however, the school is ninth, at a two-year total of $217,644. Neubauer Civic Scholars do not receive assistance with living expenses, fees, or other non-tuition costs.


Chicago Booth Dean Madhav Rajan. Chris Strong photo

The well-documented slump in applications to U.S. MBA programs has sparked innovation across the graduate management education landscape by schools looking to mitigate the decline in international applicants. But the Booth School is among the few that have been impacted the least by the downturn.

Instead, the move by Booth looks like an effort to become a more attractive destination for those interested in the government/nonprofit sector. According to Booth’s 2019 employment report, only one student in the Class of 2019 took a government/nonprofit job — not enough to even include the sector in the report’s industry hiring data. With funding from the Neubauer Family Foundation, which has invested a total of $7 million to date in the Civic Scholars program, Booth is seeking to change that by growing the program’s size and raising its profile.

“We are proud of the fact that Booth’s Civic Scholars Program is helping to create the next generation of nonprofit and government leaders by equipping innovators from these sectors with our data-driven and collaborative approach to learning,” Chicago Booth Dean Madhav Rajan said in a news release. “No other world-class business school offers as comprehensive a program for rising civic leaders.

“We are thrilled to expand this program to include a larger pool of MBA candidates and arm them with the knowledge and tools necessary to be even better problem-solvers in their fields.”


Launched in 2016 with seed funding from the Neubauer Foundation, the Civic Scholars program “brings important voices to the classroom and community by providing broader perspectives on issues such as understanding the role of business in society, the implications of expanding public-private partnerships, and the opportunities for business leaders to engage productively with government and nonprofit organizations.” The school takes pains to note that Neubauer Civic Scholars must meet the same admissions standards and curriculum requirements as all students in Booth’s MBA programs. However, there are big differences between Neubauer Scholars and their colleagues.

In addition to their core classes, Neubauer Scholars experience specialized programming, including leadership development experiences and coaching that “increase self-awareness, generate new insights, and allow students to create a personalized plan for their continued growth.” Civic Scholars also may take up to six electives outside of the business school in other University of Chicago programs and have the option to take experience-based social enterprise courses that focus on the public and social sectors. “Such courses will create opportunities to develop and refine leadership skills, as well as apply newly mastered knowledge, management skills, and frameworks to practical and interdisciplinary problems,” according to the program webpage. “Civic Scholars will dive deeply into critical policy, organizational and strategic challenges, and other relative issues, supported throughout by dedicated faculty members, subject-matter experts, and leadership coaches.”

They also will have unique networking opportunities designed specifically for government and nonprofit professionals. Other enhancements will include “the incorporation of faculty directors to oversee program design changes, mentor the scholars, and participate in the recruitment and admissions process,” as well as increased administrative and admissions oversight from Chicago Booth Deputy Dean Stacey Kole. Inaugural faculty directors are Robert Gertner, the Joel F. Gemunder professor of strategy and finance, and George Wu, the John P. and Lillian A. Gould professor of behavioral science. The Civic Scholars Program Advisory Board will continue to play a critical role in referring MBA candidates to the program, according to the school news release announcing the program expansion.

Deadline to apply for the Full-Time MBA Civic Scholars program is January 7, 2020; for the other two MBA programs, February 17, 2020.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.