If you're planning to go to business school, you've likely considered the cost of your schooling. An MBA may be a degree with a high ROI – but that doesn't mean than the initial investment isn't steep.
Fortunately for business school applicants, MBA programs are far more likely to offer scholarships and financial aid than other masters-level degree programs in the US. Top MBA applicants can qualify for very generous assistance, often even full-tuition scholarships.
How to qualify for scholarships
Who gets a scholarship when it comes to MBA programs? The kind of student that schools want to have: high GMAT score, interesting work experience, talented entrepreneurs. The goal is to be able to position yourself as someone that schools want to entice to attend. It's less about you petitioning the school to let you in, and more about the school petitioning you to enroll.
If you want to be in the best possible position to get a scholarship, start your preparation for business school long before you're ready to attend. Do some research to find out what kind of students your target schools are looking for. What is their median GMAT score? How much work experience do they look for? Read the school blogs, listen to their podcasts and webinars to learn what they look for in the students they admit.
And don't skimp when it comes to preparing your application materials. If you want to get in with your schooling paid for, you'll need to hit all the bases when it comes to creating a truly compelling MBA application.
Where to look for scholarships
When you're looking for scholarship opportunities, the best place to start is with the schools where you're applying. Business schools want to attract the best and brightest students, so they are often willing to work with applicants to make sure that cost is not a prohibitive factor when it comes to choosing a school.
NYU Stern, for example, says that nearly one in five full-time MBA students at the school has received a merit-based scholarship. Scholarships offered at Stern include several full-tuition fellowships available to all students, whether US citizens or international applicants, as well as a full-tuition scholarship for US military veterans and a number of partial-tuition opportunities as well.
Similarly, Kellogg School of Management has a number of scholarships available to MBA students – and admitted students are automatically considered for all merit scholarships. The school's financial aid website lists nearly 20 scholarships for Kellogg students, along with an Africa Scholars program, need-based scholarships, and scholarships designed specifically for second-year students.
Most business schools offer similar levels of support. And in many cases, there is no separate application required.
In addition to school-sponsored MBA scholarships, there are some other sources of funding for specific groups of students. You can find these by searching “MBA scholarships for ________” and filling in the blank with information relevant to you. Examples include:
- American Indian Graduate Center offers the Corbell Scholarship, AIGC Fellowship, and other scholarships
- The Forte Foundation offers partial-tuition fellowships to women pursuing an MBA at one of their nearly 50 partner schools. Forte Fellowships are awarded to female students of any nationality and are available at schools around the world; there is no separate application required for the fellowship.
- American Association of University Women offers a Selected Professions Fellowship and Career Development Grants to women pursuing advanced degrees
- The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management offers a merit-based, full-tuition fellowship to students who are committed to the mission of “increasing the representation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in American business schools and corporate management.” Eligible students must also be a US citizen or permanent resident, and attending a Consortium member school (including Tuck, Cornell, Yale, and more).
- Association of Management Consulting Firms offers the Richard Metzler Scholarship for students who plan to pursue a career in management consulting
She's also a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the author of the Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets.
Chioma publishes on the topics of personal branding, leadership development and business school admissions for college students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and executives.