Business school is likely the biggest financial commitment most young professionals have considered in their life. In fact, besides buying a home, business school may be the biggest financial decision you WILL make in your life. A 2-Year Full-time MBA in the U.S. costs well over $100,000 and that doesn’t even take into account foregone wages. Needless to say, going into the MBA application process without thinking about how you might fund your studies or considering MBA scholarship options is not a good idea.
Below are five tips for finding ways for others to fund your MBA.
Be Stronger Than Average – Take a look at the class profiles of programs you are interested in. If you are solidly above average with respect to standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE) or GPA (if your undergrad degree was on a 4.0 scale) then you may get strong consideration for merit scholarships. Whether we like it or not, numbers drive rankings and programs want to move up in the rankings.
Be Different – Look more closely at the class profiles. MBA programs are looking to admit diverse cohorts in order to create classes with diverse perspectives. If a program has a lower percentage of women than their peer programs, then they might be willing to offer scholarships to bring more women into their class. Similarly, programs with lower percentages of international students may want to bring diversity of thought by enrolling students from outside the U.S. They might need to offer MBA scholarships to attract this talent.
Connect and Show the Love – Research MBA programs to understand their ethos and the resources that they offer. When you identify programs that align with your values and will be able to help you address your areas for develop, dig deeper. Connect with students and alumni to obtain a deeper understanding of how you fit in and the impact that you can make. Use your essays to show admissions committee that you belong and their program will be better for having you as part of their community. They may show you the money for showing them the love!
Pick Your Employer Wisely – Although sponsorship opportunities from employers are not widespread, there are definitely firms that want to retain top talent and are willing to pay for business school. If you don’t work for one of these companies now, perhaps you might make a move so your degree will be debt free. Keep in mind that the company will likely expect that you will stay for a few years after you complete your MBA.
Apply Early – Each program has a set pool of scholarship money for incoming students. Apply in Round 1 (September-October deadlines) when none of the funding has been allocated so you have a better chance getting a scholarship.
Plan ahead to make sure that you don’t miss opportunities to find funding as you pursue the education that will allow you to achieve your professional goals.
Stratus Admissions Counseling is a premier admissions counseling firm committed to helping clients achieve their dreams of going to business school, law school, and graduate school. Stratus has served thousands of clients from more than 50 countries with our unique team-based approach. Susan Cera is Director of MBA Admissions Counselor at Stratus Admissions Counseling, where she coaches applicants on the entire MBA admissions process. She received an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a AB from Dartmouth College. Susan has experience in consulting and technology product management and served on admissions committee at Fuqua for a decade.