‘We look at Cornell as a place where we can find the type of student who is really engaged’
The Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon. (The Gazette)
Cornell College economics and business graduates who meet certain GPA standards now have a seamless path to attaining a master’s thanks to a novel partnership between Mount Vernon’s private liberal arts institution and Iowa State University.
Beginning March 1, Cornell economics and business grads who meet certain requirements will be automatically accepted into Iowa State’s master of finance, master of accounting, or master of information systems programs.
As part of the agreement — the first of its kind for Iowa State’s Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business — administrators are waiving the application fee for qualifying students.
“We are looking for talented students,” Valentina Salotti, associate dean for academic affairs and diversity at the Ivy College of Business, said in a statement. “We look at Cornell as a place where we can find the type of student who is really engaged and already used to critical thinking.”
The new collaboration is among many emerging across the state, region and nation between public, private and community colleges seeking to create accessible and affordable opportunities for students facing rising costs and new COVID-created higher education barriers.
It’s also a way the campuses can recruit and retain students from a shrinking pool at a time of growing competition among campuses facing budget woes of their own. ISU’s college of business in the fall counted 389 graduate students, down slightly from fall 2020’s 405.
Cornell also partners with the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business for its master of science in finance program and with the College of William and Mary’s school of business.
Other higher ed collaborations in Iowa include University of Northern Iowa’s partnership with the Des Moines Area Community College, which in August debuted an online degree-completion initiative effectively letting students earn a UNI degree at the cost of DMACC tuition.
To qualify for the new Cornell-ISU business initiative, students while at Cornell must maintain a 3.25 GPA for the master of finance and master of accounting programs and a 3.0 GPA for master of information systems admission.
Because the collaboration officially took effect March 1, Cornell Economics and Business professor Santhi Hejeebu said she’s excited to start sharing the opportunity with students.
“We have many promising students who have had a rich on-campus experience, and we want to create those next steps for those students and make them easy to climb,” she said. “This partnership does that. We have an opportunity to open new doors for our students.”
Officials are encouraging students wanting to be considered for financial aid to apply by May 1 of their final year at Cornell, and no later than June 1. Iowa State has committed to reserving five spots in each master program for students from Cornell, a liberal arts college that in the fall enrolled 1,054 students and follows a one-course-at-a-time model.
The ISU finance and information systems programs typically take three semesters, and the accounting program takes two.
With Iowa struggling to maintain its workforce and eager to keep new graduates in the state, Sam Sivaskandan — who directs recruiting for professional master’s programs in ISU’s College of Business — said this deal should help.
“Graduate education is really going to make a steep change in one’s life in terms of their earnings and their career path,” he said. “Not just the money part — which you earn more — but you have more jobs that you are qualified for over your entire lifetime.”
That Iowa State would make such a sweeping commitment to Cornell graduates says a lot, according to Hejeebu.
“This program is a great vote of confidence in our curriculum and in what Cornell offers to our students,” she said. “Faculty who are experts in their field came and evaluated our program and said ‘Yeah we want to be a part of that. We like what you are doing a lot, and your students are welcome at our institution and have guaranteed admission.’ ”
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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