Loyola to offer easy admission into graduate programs, merit aid for some graduating seniors


Photo Illustration by Hannah Renton

Erin Snodgrass

Madison Taylor, business senior, had high hopes that she would be employed come graduation in May.

But like millions of other graduating seniors across the country, Taylor’s future is now far from certain as COVID-19’s continued growth means cancelled commencement ceremonies, forced furloughs and hindered hiring.

“Not knowing when things may return to normal, and especially when jobs will be hiring at entry-level again is anxiety-provoking,” Taylor said.

In an effort to offer a familiar alternative to these uncertain times, Loyola announced last week that graduating seniors with a 3.0 grade point average and above will be offered easy or automatic admission into many of the university’s graduate programs.

In past years, the dean of Loyola’s College of Business has sent letters to graduating business seniors offering them automatic admission into the university’s Master of Business Administration program, and according to Senior Vice President Sarah Kelly, all the deans decided to make the offer a university-wide event this year.

“We’ve heard from a lot of seniors that their plans have changed very suddenly, and they are uncertain about their next moves during this unprecedented event,” Kelly said.

In addition to easy admission, Loyola will offer students a portion of merit aid. Students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.49 will qualify for a merit scholarship totaling 25% of the cost of the chosen program. Students with a GPA between 3.5 and 4.0 will qualify for 35%.

Kelly said the university looked at merit scholarships available at other schools to decide how much aid to offer.

“It is important in this time of economic uncertainty that Loyola has some ‘skin in the game,’” Kelly said.

In addition to offering students a sense of certainty, Kelly said the move could help Loyola’s finances as universities across the country prepare to deal with the financial challenges wreaked by COVID-19.

“We see this as the best of a win-win situation we could hope for during these uncertain times,” Kelly said. “More graduate students at Loyola will be good for the institution, yes, but we hope it will be a good option for students, some of whom have had their plans change literally overnight.”

And for Taylor, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing into a tenuous economy in a few short weeks, the offer of graduate school is an enticing one.

“The decision to consider one of Loyola’s grad schools is solely based on the state of the world right now,” Taylor said. “In January I was not considering grad school at all.”

Automatic admission is a draw for Taylor, who said she missed many of the deadlines for other graduate schools since she hadn’t originally been considering more schooling right away. So too, is the promise of aid.

“Since I wasn’t planning on it, my family and I don’t have a lot saved that I could put toward an MBA,” she said.

Taylor, who said she would consider getting her MBA, hopes that a graduate degree would help her stand out from other applicants when it comes time to apply for jobs.

As uncertainty remains the norm and colleges begin to prepare to potentially start the fall semester online, Kelly said Loyola faculty will be prepared to pivot to online courses should the need arise, though she hopes all programs will be able to be delivered in their original settings, come August.

“Some of our programs are already online, offering the flexibility and convenience many adult learners seek,” Kelly said.

Easy or automatic admission is currently being offered for 11 graduate programs: Master of Business Administration, Master of Criminology and Justice, Master of Arts in Teaching, Pre-Health/Post Bacc, Master in Health Law and Administration, Master in Environmental Law, Master of Marketing and Communication, Master of Music Therapy, Master of Music Performance, Master of Religious Education and Master of Pastoral Studies.

Some of the programs offered have higher GPA requirements. The Master in Environmental Law requires a 3.5 GPA and the Pre-Health/Post Bacc degree requires a 3.3 GPA.

Loyola is unable to offer easy or automatic admission for the graduate nursing program due to undergraduate requirements not offered at Loyola, or to the counseling program, which is already at capacity, given the required clinical supervision in the program.

Though the program does not include Loyola’s law school, Kelly emphasized that it’s not too late to apply to the law school.

According to Nikita Miltion, director of graduate admissions, admissions for these programs are generally on a rolling basis. Pre-Health is the only one that has deadlines, though they are flexible.

Though the university doesn’t have a concrete goal for admitted students into these degrees, Kelly said they hope to see a good cohort of Loyola seniors begin in each of the graduate programs.

“We know that a handful of seniors each year stay on to complete a graduate degree,” Kelly said. “We are hoping that more seniors will stay on this year if the programs fit their future plans.”