Miami business school giving $1M in COVID relief scholarships

The university is providing additional aid for high-achieving graduate students interested in enrolling in its programs.
By: | December 10, 2020
Photo courtesy of the University of Miami/University Communications

Cultivating innovative ideas and embracing creative vision are important objectives at the University of Miami Herbert Business School.

Internationally renowned for its academics, its location and its connections, the school consistently produces leaders that are adept at networking on a global stage. It has recently received acclaim for its prowess in business analytics, its entrepreneurship program and its lean to the future, which includes a new master’s offering in sustainable business.

Featuring highly trained faculty from 30 different countries, this dynamic school and its sun-drenched Coral Gables campus offer an alluring path for those looking to build a world-class resume at a university with small class sizes and big-time swagger.

It’s no secret, however, that as the premier private business school in the state of Florida, the cost of tuition here and at others like it can pose barriers, especially for those working on graduate studies in a pandemic.

So sometimes, it has to get creative.

In order to bridge those gaps and continue growing, Miami Herbert awards a number of merit-based scholarships. Its latest initiative, the COVID Career Advancement Relief Plan, in fact, will award $1 million to a diverse pool of master’s-focused students.

“We were discussing different initiatives for what we could do that would be meaningful to support students so they get a good degree and sort of weather the storm,” says Henrik Cronqvist, the school’s vice dean for graduate business programs and executive education. “These students in our community may not have a job right away, so what can we do to service them?”

The $1 million in scholarships will go to those interested in pursuing 10-month specialized master’s programs in four areas – finance, accounting, business analytics and international business. The Herbert Business School typically wouldn’t have initiated this type of offering in January but because of the pandemic and because of need, UM leaders felt it was important to give potential students a way to stay in the game.

“Perhaps they had their hopes up that they would get a job right out of undergraduate school – for some people that happened, but for some it didn’t,” Cronqvist says. “If someone starts this program in January, that means that the entire 2021 on their resume will not be a gap. By getting a master’s degree in finance or in business analytics, then in a year when the economy looks better, they will be better prepared than if they only have an undergraduate degree. This will buy them some time to get to their resume in order.”

Building a bigger and better ‘U’

Henrik Cronqvist

Miami Herbert Business School programs – both executive and professional – serve local professionals and traditional full-time students who can pursue 15 different master’s degree paths. Many of them come from universities across the state, including the University of Florida and at nearby Florida International University.

Some of them come from its own programs, which have earned several accolades. Miami Herbert was recently ranked No. 13 among Entrepreneurship Magazine’s “Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship in 2021” and its MBA program rose 21 spots to No. 52 in Poets and Quants rankings for 2020-21. It has approximately 2,300 undergrads in the program plus 900 graduate students.

After several years of decline, there has been an uptick in interest in MBA programs across the country and in Miami. Last year, Miami Herbert had 52 students in its program. This year, that number is 90 and it expects that trend to continue. That has forced the school to take a hard look at its budget to include further scholarships to meet that growing pool of students.

“What is very interesting is that for the current year and for next year, we have seen at Miami and other schools an increase in the number of students that want to go for the traditional full-time MBA,” he says. “That’s also because they want to upgrade their skills, so they come out of this pandemic stronger.”

But to do that, many need private universities such as Miami to adjust on the fly and offer lifelines of financial support. No matter how seasoned its faculty might be or how elite its reputation, Cronqvist says those types of solutions have been essential for students during the crisis.

“If you’re struggling financially, it doesn’t matter that you have all of these benefits,” he says. “You do need a good, robust scholarship, and that’s what we try to provide.”

The scholarship amounts in the COVID relief plan vary, Cronqvist says, because “you have some students that have extraordinary experiences in the past, and they are extremely competitive in the market. They may have offers from other schools. So, we have to factor those types of criteria into our scholarship setting.”

Cronqvist says in addition to the increased number of students participating, Miami is also seeing a much higher number of applications for next year. For those who take advantage of the program and are lucky enough to receive a scholarship in the process, there are big benefits this year to entering.

“We have invested quite a bit in the last year in career advancement. We have an office that is providing coaching to the students on how to approach employers,” Cronqvist says. “They get more career coaching from our master level career advancement office. That’s another benefit – to have someone in a one-on-one setting coach them and review their resume.”

That new crop of students will have an opportunity to get that assistance and enhance their skills in a hybrid environment. Two thirds of Miami’s students in the school chose to be in-person for the fall semester while others took part in live online learning.

Miami Herbert, as it did with the new scholarship initiative and backed by a president in Julio Frenk (former dean of Harvard’s T.C. Chan School of Public Health) who has an extensive health background, is making safety and health a priority when they do return. Beyond that, each of the schools is compiling a list of different initiatives for the spring and how it can improve.

“I think that’s the benefit of a university that is pretty collaborative like UM,” Cronqvist says. “We have quite a large number of different schools and colleges within The U, and we have to learn from each other in a time of crisis.”