Getting Your Hands on MBA Scholarships |

Getting Your Hands on MBA Scholarships

By QS Contributor

Updated December 9, 2022 Updated December 9, 2022

What terrifies potential MBA applicants more than the GMAT? For most students, it’s figuring out how to find all the money needed for tuition, materials, living expenses, and excursion fees. Just thinking about the total MBA  costs can make even the most excited student quiver in their boots.

And yet, most candidates manage to make it happen somehow. That said, financing an MBA education isn’t as simple as filling out a few forms and receiving a whack of funds for simply being motivated. Even when it is almost that simple, those MBA scholarships funds are unlikely to cover the entire extent of the money required. 

It’s also worth noting that there are almost limitless combinations of financing. Some students are lucky enough to need very little between their savings and a scholarship or two. Others need the assistance of their family on top of educational loans, scholarships, and half a dozen smaller sums extracted from the woodwork in order to meet their MBA cost. 

Of course, everyone wants to get their hands on MBA scholarships if they can. It feels a little like ‘money for nothing’ (though it’s usually not), and it takes a lot of pressure off that big bottom line. But, how do you get your hands on these coveted awards? Sometimes, it’s as simple as filling out a few forms. 

There are a lot of MBA scholarships and fellowships available for MBA candidates, but broadly speaking, there are two main types of awards: merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships 

Merit-based scholarships cover a wide range of merits 

Merit-based scholarships fall into a few categories as merit can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There are scholarships for work done or underway. For example, almost every school offers at least some sort of financial reward for the demonstration of leadership. 

There are also merit-based scholarships awards for very specific career paths and directions. For example, London Business School offers a luxury and retail scholarship for those involved in the sector prior to enrollment. The award covers up to 50% of fees, and there are a few stipulations attached to time on campus. 

Some underrepresented groups at the MBA level, such as women, may qualify for MBA scholarships by virtue of their demographic profile. These types of awards merit-based scholarships often tie in with social responsibility mandates, meaning that there are scholarships available to candidates from developing countries

Some programmes offer need-based scholarships as a matter of routine 

Every school makes an effort to include as many merit-based scholarships as possible. These funds make it easy for deserving students to succeed. But, that’s hardly the end of the options; most schools also make it easy for students to obtain funding based on financial need. 

At Harvard Business School, about half of all students receive some level of need-based scholarshipsaid. The average gift of US$34,000 isn’t without strings. In addition to financial need, students must also demonstrate financial savings and responsibility over the three years prior to enrollment. It may also be important to note that qualifying students are offered a base loan package before the receipt of school-provided, need-based, school-provided scholarships. It’s hardly a no strings attached, money for nothing deal in that respect. 

And there is some very good news when reducing MBA cost 

While few MBA candidates receive a full-ride, there is a positive to many of the scholarships available; many of them don’t require applicants to complete additional forms.  A quick look at the financial aid page of the top schools will put a lot of minds at ease. 

At INSEAD, for example, many of the scholarships available don’t require individual applications. As long as applicants have completed the need-based scholarship application form and essays, they qualify for consideration. The same sort of system applies at Harvard Business School

MBA candidates with questions regarding their status, award amounts, or dispersal dates only need to contact the financial aid office at their institution of study. Advisors will be able to guide students accordingly. However, many merit-based scholarships do require additional essays, forms, demonstrations, or a set of hurdles that must be met after dispersal. That’s when a call to the financial aid office can really come in useful. 

There is more good news for frightened or financially stressed MBA candidates – all of the options of slashing MBA cost considered so far are offered by the various learning institutions directly. There are many more scholarships available that have nothing to do with your college. By searching platforms such as Scholars for Development, you can find funding linked to your country of origin, your field of study, and nearly every other combination under the sun. 

But, there is something you need to remember… almost all of these scholarships require early application and acceptance into a programme. It’s rare for scholarships sit unclaimed for long and that’s the stressful side of scholarships – it’s usually not the paperwork. And after an MBA application, almost no paperwork is scary, right?

This article was originally published in March 2016 . It was last updated in December 2022

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