Kellogg Alumni Call On School To Make STEM Retroactive

MBA students at Kellogg's

MBA students at Kellogg’s Global Hub in Evanston, Illinois in 2019. Photo by Jonathan Gibby

There are 14 top-50 MBA programs with STEM pathways that were made retroactive: eight schools that converted their entire MBA program to STEM and made the designation retroactive (Chicago Booth, Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, UC-Berkeley Haas, Columbia, NYU Stern, Arizona State Carey, and UC-Davis Graduate School of Management), and six others that created or converted Management Science tracks or majors and retroactively enabled students who took classes that counted toward these tracks/majors (Harvard Business School, Wharton, Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, Rochester Simon, and WashU Olin). In a petition, the Northwestern Kellogg Class of 2019 international MBAs facing job loss and dislocation in the midst of a global pandemic are urging emergency action to become the 15th school on the list.

As of May 4, some 250 had signed the petition.

“When I received my admit to Kellogg three years back, I couldn’t have been happier,” one of the MBAs tells P&Q. Like the rest, the MBA asked for anonymity to avoid employment repercussions for speaking candidly. “It was one of the best things to have happened to me. That was followed by two fabulous years at a place I believed I would cherish for the rest of my life. However, all of this has started changing over the past six months. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, it began to affect graduates of even the top-most business schools such as Kellogg. When recent graduates appealed to the school to change the Kellogg MBA degree to STEM, it is something that did not sit well with the school — we found no support.

“Then, over the past couple of months, we saw each major business school in the U.S. start supporting their alumni from Class of 2019, by changing their degrees to STEM. Various sources confirmed this was completely the school’s choice. We appealed again to the school to reconsider their decision. But Kellogg turned a deaf ear. Now, I will have to drop my job, leave the U.S. and remain unemployed with the specter of a six-figure loan to repay. All of this because Kellogg could not mobilize the support to its graduates in their time of need. I have questioned many of my choices in recent times, and sadly coming to Kellogg is yet another choice I might regret.”


Northwestern Kellogg MBAs continue to talk with the school; they also have strategized with alumni of CMU Tepper, USC Marshall, and other schools with no retroactive STEM designation. Marni Futterman, Kellogg spokesperson, says that the school will continue to work with the Class of 2019 alumni to try to help them retain their jobs and stay in the U.S.

But time is pressing. For most alumni, their visas expire in July.

“With six-figure loans and uncertain professional future, most of us may have to leave the U.S. to face extreme financial hardship,” another Kellogg Class of 2019 MBA writes. “We would have had much better options in any other year. But the Covid situation has made it worse. We are asking for something that is very much possible given the right motivation. Today’s MBA curriculum is already highly analytical and quantitative. All the other top schools have declared their MBA curriculum STEM-eligible or at least made a provision to offer STEM designation to their 2019 graduates. We hope Kellogg does the same. Many of us chose Kellogg over these other schools and we hope we don’t regret that decision.”

Says another: “I received multiple admits from top-10 business schools in the U.S. However, I was thrilled when I received that admit from Kellogg and I immediately accepted as I had heard so much about the student-friendly culture. The Covid crisis has had an impact on all of us, and sadly I would have to leave my job in the U.S. with a large financial loan burden. In this moment of need, we turned to our Kellogg to support our careers in the U.S. with a STEM designation after seeing that all the top business schools had enabled this option for their 2019 graduates. Our hopes were up that Kellogg would support us in this time of urgent need. However, the sad reality is that the school has refused to support any of us and has left its 2019 graduates to fend for themselves in this crisis. I am regretting the decision of choosing Kellogg over other schools.”

Another alumnus writes: “I have been in touch with the students who are trying to convince Kellogg to take action to help support the 2019 students. They have tried everything — appealing again and again to the school to take the action required to extend the STEM designation to the Kellogg MBAs of 2019. But our appeals have all fallen on deaf ears. This is something we deserve because so many of the other schools have done the same! What is it about the Kellogg degree that cannot replicate the same status? I daresay it is lazy administrators. Frankly, I am appalled at the apathy that the school has been displaying. There are many among 2019 alumni, as well as current students from the Class of 2020 and 2021 who feel that Kellogg has let its students down. Each and every member of the community directly mentors future applicants as they prepare to apply to MBA programs. I would surely not be recommending Kellogg to anyone who chooses to apply.”


The Covid pandemic has led to uncertainty across the globe. But for these 50-plus MBAs from the Northwestern Kellogg Class of 2019, uncertainty is just the beginning. What has followed is dread and, increasingly, resignation.

“Not only do the 2019 grads from Kellogg face an exit from the United States, but we also face the prospect of losing employment, as opportunities in other geographies reduce,” one alumni tells P&Q. “I have had conversations internally within my organization, and it is quite evident that every other geography is cutting back on jobs. What makes it worse is that Kellogg introduced a STEM-designated major, just a few months after we graduated in 2019. We as students feel a little isolated, for we have been engaging the school since last year and have not found support for the batch of 2019. This is extremely disappointing, as all the major schools have realized the predicament faced by their graduates and have made amends retroactively.” Responding to Mike Mazzeo’s statement about the school falling out of compliance, the alumnus says, “Compliance is a factor that every school needs to consider, and I do not know why Kellogg feels it is the only school which shall fall out of compliance with the regulations. We feel our faith a little bit destroyed, unfortunately.”

Another member of the Class of 2019 adds: “It has been a very stressful path post-MBA with respect to recruiting and securing work authorization. I had an incredible time at Kellogg because of the community and curriculum. After graduating from Kellogg, several recruiters gave me an opportunity to interview because of my MBA. However, when the time came for making an offer, most of the recruiters were skeptical as I did not have a STEM degree. With this uphill battle, I was finally able to get a dream job — only to realize now that I might not be able to continue in my current position or move to another country. It’s been a very stressful journey and would have been much better with the STEM degree. I sincerely request Kellogg to relook at the STEM classification for the class of 2019 and make necessary changes. I know that my learnings from Kellogg would take me a long way, but life would have been simpler if I had taken up a masters with a STEM degree. If I were a current student or prospective student, this would have been taken more seriously. I hope that Kellogg looks at this issue with the same degree of seriousness.”

Yet another Kellogg alum says they chose Kellogg “over multiple other admits because of Kellogg’s reputation for family-friendly culture. My partner left the job back home and moved to the States with me. It took my partner two years to rebuild their career here. Now due to Kellogg’s inexplicable resistance to supporting Class of 2019 with a retroactive STEM, I and my partner face a tough dilemma. Both of us will soon be unemployed and if my partner decides to retain their hard-earned employment, we will have to live apart without any near-term prospect of collocating.

“Every other top business school is understanding the seriousness of this situation and adopting creative measures to support the community. But at Kellogg our plea is being thoughtlessly dismissed. We are a group of 50+ people who researched legal and regulatory considerations of doing what we are asking Kellogg to do. We reached out to administrations of schools that have been successful in applying STEM retroactively and collected hard facts to share with Kellogg. To this Kellogg’s Dean Francesca Cornelli replied, ‘We can’t speculate on the choices that other institutions make.’

“We know it is possible for Kellogg to grant STEM designation retroactively. Kellogg is making a conscious choice not to do it. The administration is tearing hundreds of families apart by making this choice. Unfortunately, I wish I could go back a couple of years and accept Booth’s admit instead.”


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