A Corps Curriculum

Through a new scholarship program, Tulane hopes to attract Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright Scholars to business study.

A Corps Curriculum

BUSINESS EDUCATION ISN'T just for executives and aspiring entrepreneurs—it’s for anyone who wants to develop the skills to make the world a better place. The difficulty, however, is raising awareness of that fact among groups that might not have considered pursuing a business degree.

With a new initiative, Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business in New Orleans, Louisiana, hopes to reach two such groups: Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright Scholars who have been recalled prematurely from their international assignments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new scholarship program is designed to help these individuals view pursuing business degrees as a viable alternative.

The program stemmed from “the desire to support this group of individuals at their time of disruption and uncertainty,” says John Clarke, the Freeman School’s associate dean for graduate programs. “We’ve set aside significant fellowship dollars to help Peace Corps volunteers offset the cost of tuition to all of our programs.”

The Freeman School already has graduated previous Peace Corps volunteers, for whom business study makes sense. They tend to be entrepreneurial problem solvers, who want to go on to start social enterprises and nonprofits. That includes Edward Crawford, who started a cooperative in the Dominican Republic to help coffee farmers maximize proceeds from their harvests. As he worked on that project, he realized that additional business training would have been useful in that effort.

“I was putting together the co-op’s board, leading board meetings, doing the legal work to form a business in another country, but I had no formal business training,” Crawford says. “I wanted to learn how real businesses operated.” Upon his return to the U.S., Crawford enrolled in the Freeman School’s MBA program. Crawford went on to become the co-founder and president of Coltala Holdings, a purpose- driven private equity holding company.

Every Peace Corps volunteer who is admitted to the Freeman School’s program this year will receive a scholarship. These scholarships cover between 25 percent to 50 percent of the cost of degree programs of particular interest to returning Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright student grantees. In some cases, these scholarships may be combined with other financial support options, including full tuition plus stipends for some PhD programs. The school has not set a cap on the amount of funding it will allocate to these fellowships.

The school has expedited the application process for the program, with its admissions office reviewing and making admittance decisions within ten days of receiving each application. The school has waived GMAT and GRE requirements, requiring prospective students to provide up-to-date résumés and their undergraduate transcripts in lieu of standardized test scores. Admissions staff are conducting virtual interviews of the most promising applicants.

Students who receive scholarships to pursue business degrees also can pursue second degrees related to their areas of interest at other schools on campus, including the schools of architecture, law, liberal arts, professional advancement, public health and tropical medicine, science and engineering, and social work. Scholarships will be offered to students who enroll in programs for the summer 2020, fall 2020, or spring 2021 semesters.

As of April, the school had more than a dozen returning Peace Corps volunteers apply to the program, and several were admitted. “We anticipate being able to support any and all that are admitted,” says Clarke. “These are extraordinary times and we are doing whatever we can to support these individuals, as well as our current and prospective students."