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Scholarships And Funding Options For African Students Pursuing A Business Master’s In Europe

The cost of studying a business master’s degree in Europe is a big factor to consider in your application process. Find out the scholarships and funding options available to you

Fri Dec 1 2023

European business schools dominate business master’s rankings year-on-year and welcome a globally diverse cohort of students. It’s no surprise then that the continent has become a popular study destination for African students, as revealed in a recent GMAC survey. 

However, pursuing a business master’s degree anywhere in the world comes with the need to consider the living costs and tuition fees. The good news is business schools are eager to encourage students to apply, and can often help break down any financial barriers. 

That’s why many top business schools in Europe offer scholarship and funding opportunities. Here, we break down the range of scholarships available to study in Europe open to African applicants. 

What types of scholarships are available? 

Merit-based scholarships:

Merit-based scholarships are available to students who have demonstrated outstanding academic strength and leadership potential. This could be through performing well in your bachelor’s degree or scoring high on the GMAT exam. Or perhaps you have stepped up as a leader in a project or extracurricular activity. If so, you could be well-placed to secure a merit-based scholarship. 

At ESMT Berlin, all scholarships are merit-based. The Outstanding Student Leadership scholarship is for candidates who have shown impressive leadership during their bachelor’s degree. This might be through taking leadership initiative in student clubs, volunteer projects, or undertaking an internship. There are two scholarships available across ESMT’s three master’s programs for the value of up to €8,000 (approx. US $8,700). 

Similarly, the University of St Gallen in Switzerland offers an Excellence Scholarship which awards around CHF 20,000 (approx. $22,000) in funds per master’s program. 

At Bocconi University in Italy, academically notable applicants across master’s programs will be considered for a Graduate Merit Award which offers a full tuition and fees waiver. 

Bayes Business School offers Course Scholarships to students enrolled in its master's programs. Students who have a strong application will receive an invitation to apply for a scholarship offering 20% off their tuition fees, along with their course offer letter. 

Scholarships for women:

To increase the representation of women on their master’s degrees and subsequently tackle the disproportionate number of women in business, many business schools in Europe offer scholarships specifically for female applicants. 

Many European business schools partner with the Forté Foundation to offer fellowships for female candidates which cover up to 50% of tuition fees for master’s students.

London Business School offers multiple scholarships for women including the Laidlaw Women's Leadership Fund scholarship which awards 16 impressive Master in Management and MBA students up to 100% tuition fee payment. Successful applicants will demonstrate strong leadership potential as well as financial need. 

In particular, female applicants applying to Masters in Finance programs are well-placed to earn a scholarship as many business schools strive to increase representation in this typically male-dominated sector. For example, London Business School awards one female applicant pursuing its Master’s in Finance degree 50% of tuition fees.

Similarly, Bocconi University awards a full tuition fee waver for impressive female applicants from any country to its two-year MSc in Finance program. 

Among its merit-based scholarships, ESMT Berlin has partnered with private equity company capiton to offer the Women in Private Equity Scholarship. For one female applicant who shows a clear interest in this sector and strong leadership skills, she will be awarded €32,000 (approx. $35,000) as well as a three-to-six-month internship with capiton. 

Scholarships for African students:

As prospective students across African countries increasingly look towards Europe as a top study destination more business schools are offering scholarships specifically for African students, helping to remove financial restraints and increase the global diversity of their master’s programs. 

Among the numerous scholarships offered by IE University in Spain, IE offers the Kistefos Young Talented Leaders Scholarship for students from Ethiopia, Liberia, and South Africa who show strong academic standing, leadership skills, and an entrepreneurial mindset. In particular, the scholarship invites applicants who are looking to positively impact their home countries after graduation. The amount of the scholarship awarded will be based upon financial need. 

Similarly, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in Dublin awards one master’s student from Nigeria or Kenya the North Africa Scholarship which covers 50% of their program’s tuition fees. The school also offers a range of scholarships open to all master’s students. 

Another competitive scholarship offered to just one African applicant—across all degree programs—is the Gary Lubner Scholarship at London Business School which awards a generous £50,000 (approx. $62,500). 

Imperial College Business School offers two scholarships for African students including the African Regional Scholarship—awarding up to £15,000 (approx. $18,800)—and the Black Future Leader Award which addresses the underrepresentation of students from Black backgrounds from all over the world among their master’s cohorts and awards 50% of tuition fees. 

At Bayes Business School, one fortunate student on the MSc Insurance and Risk Management program could earn a full tuition fee scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a candidate from the Middle East or North Africa who demonstrates financial need. 

Global Opportunities: 4 Reasons Why African Students Should Consider A Business Masters In Europe


International student scholarships:

While not specific to students from African countries, if you’re applying to a business master’s in Europe, look out for international student scholarships too. 

The A. Wilhelmsen Foundation Scholarship Program at BI Norwegian Business School is open to all international applicants. Two students will be awarded NOK 150,000 (approx. $14,000) per year of study. 

At ESSEC Business School in France, the Eiffel Scholarship—awarded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs—is specifically for international students and awards a monthly allowance of €1,181 as well as covers the costs of one international return journey and social security. ESSEC will submit applications on behalf of students, however students must apply to their chosen master’s degree within the first round of applications. 

ESSEC also offers a Diversity of Geography Scholarship which awards 25% payment of tuition fees for international students. 

Needs-based scholarships: 

Needs-based scholarships are based on the financial need of the recipient and usually ask for demonstrable evidence of the candidates’ financial situation. Needs-based scholarships are particularly important for ensuring a diverse cohort at business school. 

Bayes Business School offers multiple needs-based scholarships. For example, its Nick Maughan Foundation Scholarship awards one student on the MSc Investment Management £10,000 (approx. $12,500). 

Requirements when applying for master’s scholarships

Every business school has a different scholarship application process, so it’s important to research or reach out to admissions committees if you’re considering applying. Bear in mind that scholarship applications may also have different deadlines to your program application.

For some scholarships, such as the Africa Regional Scholarship at Imperial, applicants are automatically considered. While there are no additional requirements, candidates who are keen to secure a scholarship should work particularly hard to craft a strong application. 

Others—such as scholarships offered at ESMT Berlin—ask for an additional essay explaining your suitability and why you are deserving of a scholarship. 

It’s important to note that, typically, submitting your master’s application early can give you a better chance of securing a scholarship. Also, be prepared to reach out to your target schools’ admissions teams to get advice, should you require it.

What alternative funding options are there? 

Business master’s degrees and scholarships are highly competitive so not all candidates will receive a scholarship award. However, there are other options to help fund your degree. 

Get in contact with your admissions office to find out the loans on offer for students directly with the school or with third party providers.