According to Poets and Quants, the total cost of a US-based, 2-year MBA can end up at over 200,000 USD once all is said and done (tuition, plus living costs etc). Although a bit cheaper, the UK is still going to cost you around 75,000 USD for the year; and Europe is equally as expensive.
Even with post-MBA salaries providing a decent ROI, if you’re not already making 6 figures; from a fairly well-off family; or have made sizeable returns in early investments,
you may be wondering “how do I pay for it?”!
Fortunately, all is not lost. We have looked at other options that may help MBA hopefuls finance their degree.
At least in the USA and UK, we have found that many schools will provide decent-sized scholarships for applicants that show significant achievement and submit well-written applications. For example in the UK, Warwick Business School provides partial scholarships for excellent professional achievement and previous entrepreneurial endeavors. The USA does the same, and some top schools also offer fellowships (grants, really). MIT Sloan has a slew that you can browse here for inspiration.
US-based Universities also offer assistantships.
For example where you work part-time as a teaching assistant or research assistant in return for discounted tuition. Again, MIT Sloan provides a good example of what to look for here.
These awards are diverse. Some are through foreign governments or international partnerships, some are privately funded, some are only for US Universities, etc.
A few specific examples:
Forte Foundation offers a fellowship for female students from across the globe looking to study anywhere.
Fulbright is a great scholarship for both Americans looking to study abroad or foreign students looking to study in the USA. Not only do they cover tuition but they will cover almost all expenses, including flight tickets and health insurance.
If you want to study in Europe, the European Funding Guide is a good place to start.
For the UK, Study in the UK and Chevening are great places to start your search. Chevening in particular offers fully-funded scholarships for international applicants wanting to study in the UK in order to serve their nation once the year is over.
A bit like Chevening, The Open Society offers Civil Society Leadership Awards which provide fully-funded scholarships for master’s degree study to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to leading positive social change in their communities. The applicant's nationality and study destination are flexible.
MIT Sloan offers a list of external fellowships, for those wishing to attend US-based schools. They do a great job of categorising the list by fellowships applicable to US citizens, permanent residents, and/ open to international students.
Other websites that both provide thorough lists of private and university-based awards.
Times Higher Education has a decent list of university and merit-based scholarships, both for application for US-based and foreign institutions.
This site provides a list of Master's degree scholarships.
Bschools.org has a list of scholarships specifically for MBAs.
Edupass has a database that is great for international students looking to study abroad.
Gograd.org has a good list, mostly for US-based schools and American citizens. What is nice about this page is that it breaks the opportunities down into 4 categories, general, minorities, women, and military.
Finally, IEFA.org is a great resource as the site allows you to pick the country you wish to study in, as well as the subject, to help you narrow down award opportunities. One important tip when looking at applying for scholarships is to apply early and be aware of the deadlines. For example, for the "major" awards such as Chevening, early November is the deadline for the next year's Autumn term.
If you have missed the award deadlines or if you work for a multinational firm, then you may want to have a look at employee sponsorships. Investopedia shares a list of 10 companies that will pay for your MBA, and there are many more that may be willing if you can show how your learnings will add to the business. Furthermore, in recent years in the UK, the government has been pushing degree apprenticeships for UK nationals where employers, your chosen university, and the local government come together to deliver a degree programme. If you are a British citizen this may be worth investigating further; start with UCAS.
If your employer won't sponsor your MBA then another alternative is to speak with them about supporting you with more flexibility so that you may pursue a part-time MBA. Time management may be tricky, but a part-time MBA will allow you to work whilst you study and help make pursuing a degree more affordable. An added bonus is that you will be able to apply the theories you learn in the classroom, to your work in real-time; this is something full-time MBAs sometimes lack.
The final financing option we have come across is student loans. We have purposely put this at the bottom as if you can avoid a load, it is best!
If you’re studying in your home country you may be eligible for government-based financial aid, such as FAFSA in the USA.
Private student loans are another option. We do not endorse any of them, but here is a short list for students that are Stateside.
Prodigy Loans were popular with some of our classmates in the UK. Again we cannot provide any comments for or against the loan. Investopedia has written a review with pros and cons that may be valuable to read.
UK 'home students' may now be able to borrow up to £11,222 for postgraduate study via the Student Loans Company
When taking out a student loan it is very important to know what your loan repayments will be; have a realistic idea of what you post-MBA salary may be, and only take out as much as your truly need. Debt is debt and the less you have the better!
Overall, we found that there are many options out there to help make an MBA more affordable. Now it is up to you to take the next steps...
First, think about what you want out of a programme. This could include the length of study; specialisations they are known for; their reputation; industry connections; diversity; location, etc.
Then, research the schools that fit your specific criteria.
Once you have picked out a few schools, roughly 4-8, check out MBA.Today's cost calculator to clarify how much your chosen schools will cost.
If employer-based sponsorship is not an option, see what scholarships the universities on your list offer internally.
Next, check out if the programme offers assistantships. Or if in the UK, does the university offer a degree apprenticeship programme, and what are the requirements?
Finally, research what external foundation awards may be applicable to your situation.