Beginning this year, graduates of most Jesuit business schools in the U.S. will receive an added benefit from their degrees: the opportunity to take free courses for the rest of their lives at other Jesuit business schools.
Known as the Jesuit Promise for Lifelong Learning, the agreement among 17 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) grants alumni and alumnae of business programs the opportunity to audit courses, up to the level of their earned degree, at any of the signatory business schools, without paying tuition.
The idea originated more than three years ago with Kevin Stevens at Loyola University of Chicago. In March of 2018, as he prepared to host the Fall conference of the Jesuit Business Deans, Stevens proposed “a discussion of the viability of offering a lifetime, nationwide ‘warranty’” that would allow graduates to continue their education at any participating Jesuit business school. A robust discussion ensued that October, and continued at subsequent conferences, as well as online meetings and email exchanges.
In July of 2020, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the agency that accredits most of the Jesuit business schools, adopted new standards, including a greater emphasis on lifelong learning. With this added impetus, the topic was again on the agenda for the Deans’ Fall 2020 conference, and parameters for the agreement began to take shape. Several drafts were circulated by email following the conference, and the final version was sent to the AJCU Chief Academic Officers for review. Member schools were asked to sign onto the Promise by June of 2021.
According to the agreement, business school alumni will be allowed to audit courses without paying tuition, provided that unfilled seats are available in business classes at the host institution. Students taking advantage of this opportunity will be classified as non-matriculating guest students (or the equivalent designation), and will not receive grades, credit, or transcripts for such courses.
Among its most important benefits, this arrangement will enrich the lives of those who are educated at Jesuit business schools by extending their academic opportunities long past their graduation. It will strengthen the network and raise the profile of Jesuit institutions among each other's alumni. It should enhance recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students by adding a bonus to becoming a Jesuit alumnus or alumna. It will help to satisfy a new accreditation requirement, and it may even generate new revenue, if those who audit courses decide to take the next step and enroll in degree programs or certificates.
Signatory institutions include the business schools at Canisius College, Creighton University, Fairfield University, Gonzaga University, John Carroll University, Le Moyne College, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Marquette University, Regis University, Saint Peter’s University, Seattle University, St. Joseph’s University, University of Detroit Mercy, University of San Francisco, University of Scranton, and Xavier University.
The Jesuit Promise for Lifelong Learning is available at https://www.ajcunet.edu/business-deans.