The Price of an M.B.A. at Arizona State University’s Business School? Free Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School of Business will offer its full-time M.B.A. program at no cost WSJ (Lindsay Gellman) Oct. 14, 2015 7:58 p.m. ET The Price of an M.B.A. at Arizona State University One program at Arizona State University’s business school has a brand-new price tag: $0. Starting next fall, the W. P. Carey School of Business plans to offer full scholarships to all incoming full-time M.B.A. students. The goal is to attract students with nontraditional backgrounds and career aims, and kick off a new business curriculum, leaders say. At the heart of the decision to eliminate tuition was school leaders’ desire to change the complexion of its M.B.A. class, said Carey’s dean, Amy Hillman. Carey’s full-time M.B.A. student body is “a fairly traditional M.B.A. class,” in Ms. Hillman’s words, with the bulk of graduates going into technology, manufacturing and finance, according to school placement figures. School leaders realized the sticker price for the two-year M.B.A. program—which runs from $54,000 for in-state residents to $90,000 for international students—deterred students who were interested in pursuing careers in nonprofits or those who felt they couldn’t afford the opportunity cost of attending. They wondered what would happen if the cost of attendance were no longer a barrier. So they turned to a $50 million donation given in 2003 from real-estate mogul and philanthropist William Carey. That money had been put toward recruiting new faculty, but Ms. Hillman said her administration agreed it was time to spend the money on students. Some 86 first-year students are currently enrolled in Carey’s full-time M.B.A. class, but the school will cover free rides for up to 120 students starting in the fall of 2016; the school declined to provide cost estimates. The business school enrolls more than 13,500 students in total, including more than 12,000 undergraduates and nearly 800 students in its portfolio of M.B.A. programs, which includes part-time and online degrees. The scholarships have presented Carey with a business dilemma of its own—explaining the decision to current M.B.A. students, who are stuck paying for their degrees. The school has held town-hall meetings to solicit students’ feedback, and reaction has been largely positive, Ms. Hillman said. “Would I rather not pay tuition? Sure,” said Ryan Butler, a second-year M.B.A. student who said he provided input for the curriculum redesign. “But I’m excited about the direction of the program,” he added. Some law schools have expanded scholarships or slashed tuition partly to offset the tough job market for their graduates, but job placement for b-school grads has been robust recently. About 90% of the full-time M.B.A. graduates in Carey’s class of 2015 were employed three months after graduation, with average starting salaries nearing $99,000, according to the school. To some extent, the scholarships are in keeping with Arizona State’s reputation for maverick moves in higher education. The university recently took over the troubled Thunderbird School of Global Management and has teamed with Starbucks Corp. to provide free online degrees for some of the coffee chain’s employees. The business school is launching an online-heavy marketing campaign to raise awareness of the scholarships, and admissions officers will attend more college fairs to court entrepreneurs, single parents and nonprofit professionals and others who might reconsider the full-time business school program if it were free. “We are hopeful that Dean Hillman’s initiative will enable students who may otherwise not have considered business school to pursue an M.B.A.,” said Interim Provost Mark Searle in a statement. In exchange for free tuition, Ms. Hillman said she expects graduates to pay it forward by hiring or mentoring future alumni, although the school doesn’t plan to formally track or enforce that guideline.