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Learn How to Get MBA Sponsorship

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Dec 18, 2023

Are you looking for a transformative experience that will lead to personal growth and exciting new career opportunities? Of course, you are! And the MBA will provide that for you in spades. Alas, the cost of business school can be prohibitive. One potential avenue applicants can pursue is MBA sponsorship, which many companies offer. Before approaching your employer to finance your studies, here are several things to think about.

First, find out about your company’s policies on education and development. Many progressive companies encourage their employees to pursue advanced degrees as it can lead to a more skilled and loyal workforce. Research your company’s existing education assistance programs and review their eligibility criteria and reimbursement limits.

Next, consider how an MBA aligns with both your personal and professional goals and your company’s objectives. Highlight how having an MBA will enable you to contribute more effectively to the company.

To be even more persuasive, identify specific projects or responsibilities where your advanced skills can make a tangible difference. Illustrate how the company can benefit from the investment in your education, such as by proposing a strategic project that you could lead upon completing your MBA.

Another major decision is whether you want to pursue a part-time or full-time MBA program. Since a part-time program allows you to continue working while studying, that may be more attractive to your employer. Plan how you’ll manage your workload and studies if you opt for a part-time program.

Your goal is to convince your managers that your enhanced skills and knowledge can benefit your current role and contribute to the company’s success. A well-articulated alignment can help you make a compelling case for your employer. Demonstrating that your MBA will serve your interests and the company’s can boost your chances of securing sponsorship.

MBA Sponsorship and Return on Investment (ROI)

Naturally, your employer is likely concerned about the ROI of sponsoring your education. Be prepared to discuss the potential financial benefits your MBA can bring to the company. Talk about salary increases, promotions, or new responsibilities you anticipate after completing the program. You can also share industry data on the increased earning potential for MBA graduates.

So, what’s in it for employers? According to the Michigan Ross School of Business, which offers an accelerated, 16-month Global MBA that allows professionals to quickly return to their companies, MBA sponsorship helps:

Elevate Talent: Employees receive a top-ranked MBA education that enhances their competency in global business issues and cross-cultural leadership.

Increase ROI: Employees can immediately apply their skills upon return to the workplace, improving their own performance and your company’s ROI.

Network Expansion: Your company’s network expands through exposure to other top-tier classmates, 55,000 Michigan Ross alumni, and more than 645,000 University of Michigan alumni around the world.

When discussing sponsorship with your employer, be prepared to negotiate the terms of the agreement. Clarify whether the support covers tuition, textbooks, and other related expenses. Also, discuss any conditions attached to the sponsorship. For example, will you have to commit to staying with the company for a certain period after graduation?

Remember that company sponsorship can be limiting if you want to try a new industry. As Shelly Heinrich, associate dean for MBA admissions at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, explained to Find MBA, “Pursuing an MBA opens the doors to many different opportunities. If you decide to pursue them, you may have to repay your sponsored tuition.”

Read about the ROI of a One-Year Vs. Two-Year MBA Program

Alternative Funding Sources

While employer sponsorship is attractive, you’ll also want to explore other funding sources, such as scholarships, grants, and student loans. A backup plan can be reassuring if your employer can’t provide the support you need.

Of course, timing is essential when seeking employer sponsorship for an MBA. Assess the company’s financial health, your performance, and any upcoming opportunities or challenges. If your company is facing budget constraints, now’s probably not the right time to ask about sponsorship. Wait for a more opportune moment when the company is in a better financial position.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #102: Financing Your MBA

Approaching your employer for MBA sponsorship is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. By aligning your goals with your employer’s objectives and demonstrating the benefits of your education, you can increase your odds of support.

Partnering with your employer to pay for your MBA can be mutually beneficial, leading to personal and professional growth while contributing to your company’s success.

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Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers from every M7 program and the elite European MBA programs. We offer multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help with essay editing, interview prep, and MBA resume review. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.