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Should I Consider An MBA Without Sponsorship?

Among the many factors affecting the decision to pursue an MBA, the student’s ability to fund the program is undoubtedly an incredibly important component.

Most top-notch MBA programs cost more than $100,000 over a year or two to cover tuition as well as cost of living. Considering the large price tag along with the fact that most MBA applicants are between the ages of 22-30 with limited opportunity to build up savings, covering the costs of an MBA can be a challenge.

Apply for Scholarships

The first sensible step in pursuing an MBA without funding is to apply for a scholarship(s). After all, it is not only employers that sponsor students. A vast majority of students, especially at top schools, are typically covered by one or more scholarships from successful alumni who have established scholarship programs for promising individuals in need of monetary support.  Business schools typically offer a wide variety of scholarships targeting students from specific backgrounds, countries, and genders, so the chances of getting a scholarship are typically decent. Moreover, schools typically do not mind a student being covered by multiple scholarships at once, and there is usually no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for. In this instance, you want to apply for as many as possible. It is also worth noting that several foundations offer scholarships as part of their community support, so these should be explored as well.

Examine Your Long-Term Goals 

The second step is to consider one’s long-term objectives. If you are targeting jobs with high demand for MBA students, such as management consulting, there is the possibility that you can negotiate tuition reimbursement with companies offering you a position after graduation. Management consulting companies are always on the lookout for distinguished talent coming out of top business schools and are often open to reimbursing students for their MBA fees (or at least a significant part of it).

What Now?

If both steps 1 and 2 do not apply to you, we recommend seriously assessing one’s long-term objectives prior to deciding whether or not to proceed with the MBA. The MBA investment cost is significant and the truth is that very few jobs can ensure a quick payback. Unless you’re planning on going into management consulting or investment banking, it could take a while to see the monetary return. In that case, it may be worth it to consider a specialized master’s degree or focus on growing in your job without an MBA. It’s important to explore less expensive options to make the most informed decision.

Overall, receiving sponsorship from your employer is definitely a significant advantage both from a financial and job security perspective, since you will have a guaranteed contract upon graduation. However, students may end up not taking their sponsorship and paying the MBA fees themselves if they receive a great offer from another employer or want to explore a new industry. There are other viable options out there besides employer sponsorship, such as scholarships, potential reimbursement by a future employer, and other academic programs altogether. So if you do not have the required funding up front, alternatives do exist. With research and flexibility, that MBA can still be affordably achieved.

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