4 Elite US MBA Programs That Offer Full-Ride Scholarships

Top business schools often cost less because of abundant scholarships funded by loyal alumni

Many facets of the application process are daunting for prospective b-schoolers, but few more so than the price of admission. In fact, the hefty sticker price at many elite schools often deters otherwise qualified applicants from tossing their hats in the ring.

What many worthy applicants don’t realize is that private, ‘more expensive’ schools often cost less than other institutions because of abundant scholarships funded by loyal alumni.

Some MBA programs have garnered stellar reputations for their generous financial aid packages and full-ride scholarships that cover tuition fees completely.

Here’s four elite US MBA programs that offer full-ride scholarships:

1. Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business

“We want our scholarship awards to make a real difference in applicants’ decision-making process,” says Sue Oldham, Jones’ executive director of recruiting and admissions. “80% of our incoming full-time students receive a merit-based scholarship. The average award is 65% of tuition.”

In addition to eight full-tuition dean's scholarships for top international students, Forte Fellow scholarships for women, ROMBA Fellow scholarships for LGBTQ students, and Consortium Fellowships to qualified underrepresented-minority candidates, Jones has four key flagship scholarships that cover either tuition alone, or the full cost of tuition, fees, and expected living expenses:

Tuition is covered by the Jones Partners' Leadership Scholarship, which improves connections between Jones and the Houston business community, and the McNair Scholars Program, which selects one recipient each academic year who demonstrates academic excellence and inspired leadership.

However, the Military Scholars Program, designed for select active or veteran military applicants, and the Crownover Scholars Program, initiated by Rice Board of Trustees Chair James Crownover, cover students' full tuition, fees, and expected living expenses.

2. University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business

Mendoza’s admissions committee determines financial aid for MBA applicants based on the same criteria used to make admissions decisions—academic performance, prior work experience, GMAT or GRE scores, leadership potential, letters of recommendation, and written and oral communication skills.

Kristin McAndrew, Mendoza’s director of graduate admissions, explains that applicants who fit the school’s mission are more likely to receive some form of scholarship or fellowship.

“We are firmly committed to the idea that business can be a force for good in the world, and we seek out candidates who have a history of community service or engagement with corporate social responsibility initiatives,” she says.

“In fact, we ask that all fellowship recipients commit to actively engaging in the community during their time at Notre Dame. This may include volunteering in the local area, planning events as members of the MBA Association, or any other activity they choose.”

3. Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management

Nearly 68% of Owen MBA students qualified for some form of merit-based scholarship this year.

“Candidates who meet and exceed our averages across the application considerations have the best chances of scholarship,” explains Tami Fassinger, Owen’s chief recruiting officer.

“However, other merit factors are quality-based relative to others in the application pool: quality of experience, interview ability, reasonable career plans after completing graduate management education (GME), recommendations and essays.”

4. Washington University’s Olin Business School

To ensure opportunities for a spectrum of under-represented students, the Olin Business School provides partial to full tuition scholarships and fellowships in collaboration with the Consortium for Graduate Study Management, Forte Foundation, US Military, Reaching Out MBA and Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

“Awards are based on demonstrated academic ability, professional potential and personal characteristics,” explains Olin’s director of graduate programs, admissions and financial aid Ruthie Pyles. “To be considered for a full tuition scholarship, we encourage students to reach out to our recruitment and admissions team to learn more about being considered for this type of award.”

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