NEXT Innovation Scholars

Modern society lives in an era defined by persistent forces of change and a range of increasingly complicated global challenges — challenges that also create opportunities for innovation and transformation. Relentless, accelerating change of this scope and scale demands action-oriented university graduates with the knowledge, tools and responsiveness to boldly create the future rather than react to it. The NEXT Innovation Scholars program answers this call by cultivating a diverse cohort of resilient, forward-thinking problem-solvers who embrace ambiguity with the intellect, curiosity and confidence to drive innovation and lead in a complex world. 

Spearheaded by President Neville G. Pinto and aligned with UC’s Next Lives Here strategic direction, this highly selective scholarship program leverages UC’s signature strengths and strategic relationships to immerse students in contextual collisions of disciplines, industries and cultures of innovation both inside and outside the university.

NEXT Innovation Scholars is a highly selective, cohort-based scholarship program that builds on and supplements students’ traditional discipline-based degree programs with program-specific requirements that can be integrated into the course of their degree without adding additional years of study. A diverse cohort of 10-20 high-potential students is selected each year. Once selected to NIS, students remain in the program for the rest of their undergraduate career at UC, provided they continue to meet all program requirements. Program alumni will continue to have opportunities to engage with NIS even after graduation — once a scholar, always a scholar.

Signature Elements

NIS is uniquely differentiated from other scholarship and honors programs by its emphasis on collaborative, cross-disciplinary experiences that intentionally create collisions between disciplines and industries. Examples include:

  • Participation in multiple cross-disciplinary innovation immersion experiences with external partners from commercial industry, cause-based organizations and social entrepreneurs, and scholarly thought leaders.
  • Structured opportunities for professional mentorship and networking through local, regional and national networks of alumni and leaders in the field of innovation.
  • Additional layers of student advising related to coursework, extra/co-curricular engagement and career education.
  • Completion of specific cross-disciplinary innovation coursework.
  • Access to training, networking and active engagement with a global network of peer innovators through the University Innovation Fellows program facilitated by Stanford University.
  • Streamlined engagement with the burgeoning Cincinnati Innovation District and the 1819 Innovation Hub.

These unique experiences, courses and access to resources position NEXT Innovation Scholars as collaborators and co-creators in the future of innovation at UC and beyond by placing them at the epicenter of local, national and global innovation ecosystems.

Financial Scholarships

NIS provides financial support to participating students through scholarships for undergraduate tuition and supplemental educational experiences. Participation in several program-related experiences such as events, professional development trainings and travel engagements are also covered at no cost or reduced cost to students. NIS scholarships are renewable for up to eight full-time in-class semesters, adjusted to each student’s remaining time to degree completion when accepted to the program, provided they meet all program requirements and expectations.

Are you a current or prospective UC student that’s eager to create what’s NEXT, and shape a better tomorrow through collaboration and bold ideas? Applications to the NEXT Innovation Scholars program open each January with the selection of the new cohort announced by the end of the Spring semester. NIS scholarship awards and official programming for the next cohort begin in the Fall semester of the new academic year that follows. Applications are open to all current or incoming University of Cincinnati students that will have at least two years left in a full-time baccalaureate degree program at the start of the Fall semester when scholarship awards and official programming for their cohort begins. In most cases, this includes full-time enrollment in a Clifton/Uptown campus college degree program.

In addition to consistent, strong academic performance, NEXT Innovation Scholars specifically seeks students who are humble, hungry, curious and bold. Key characteristics for consideration include:

  • A holistic, inclusive and informed perspective on innovation and its significance to a modern world.
  • Adaptability and a mindset of cross-disciplinary curiosity.
  • An approach to collaboration that values collective impact and inclusion over individual achievement.
  • An orientation toward action and creating impact.
  • Demonstrated professionalism and leadership potential, both with peers and external collaborators.

Before applying to NIS, students are encouraged to read and reflect on the program requirements and expectations. NIS is not just a scholarship; it’s a transformational academic program that includes a scholarship as a benefit. NEXT Innovation Scholars are expected to actively participate in a variety of mandatory and optional program activities throughout the year, including the summer semester and while on full-time co-op. You’ll work hard, but you’ll work together with a diverse, inclusive community of peers from a variety of majors and academic years, sharing unique educational experiences that are signature to NIS and will shape your undergraduate career.

Application Instructions for Current UC Students:

The deadline to submit applications for the Fall ’24 NIS cohort is 11:59 PM on 1/14/24. The application includes essay responses and a short introduction video, so be sure to allow ample time to complete and submit before the deadline. Scholarship funding will begin in the Fall 2024 semester.

To apply:

  • Log onto Catalyst.
  • Go to the “Scholarship Search” tile.
  • In the search field, enter the phrase “NEXT Innovation Scholarship” to pull up the online application.

NEXT Innovation Scholars has been specifically designed to support fluid, agile collaborations that move at the pace of change. Collaboration with partners both inside and outside of the university innovation ecosystem are vital to the strength of this dynamic program. Examples include project-based innovation challenges and ideation sessions, industry-related “field trips” and immersive travel experiences, professional networking and training events, and engagement with a national network of professional mentors from a variety of industries and disciplines.

For more information on NEXT Innovation Scholars, contact Aaron Bradley, NIS director and associate professor: