Executive MBA Funding: Finding Hidden Money | TopMBA.com

Executive MBA Funding: Finding Hidden Money

By Dawn Bournand

Updated July 23, 2019 Updated July 23, 2019

There is no denying that an Executive MBA requires a substantial investment. This is especially the case if you’re looking to top business schools, the prices of which are some of the highest in the world for continued education. With the percentage of self-funded participants rising year-on-year, as the number of fully company-sponsored candidates wanes, the need to find at least some form of MBA funding is increasing. This is where creativity, a bit of sleuthing around and good old fashioned research can come in handy.

We decided to take some of the work out of your money hunt and asked top business schools to help us find some of the known and not-so-known forms of financing your EMBA when your employer is not fully footing the bill.

Top business schools giving away money

Once reserved only for the full-time MBA segment, scholarships are now becoming more common for Executive MBAs as well. You can find a list of MBA scholarships on almost every school’s website. Though scholarships are often given to those with the most financial need, there are also a number of scholarships that are given based on past academic performance, work activities, community contribution or diversity. Susanne Hauber, program director for the Executive MBA at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, explains, “[The] Frankfurt School awards attractive partial scholarships with the aim of enhancing the diversity of our EMBA. We provide financial support to high-performing candidates who we believe can enrich our program.”

If MBA scholarships sounds like a good idea to you, keep in mind that they are not always easily won, especially when top business schools are in the mix. “We run a range of scholarships every year. Candidates apply for either a full or half scholarship,” says Andy Adcroft, program director at Surrey Business School. Then the fun begins: “Those we decide to sponsor are chosen through an intensive assessment where they are interviewed, have to pitch themselves to a panel of faculty, business people and alumni, carry out group tasks with people they have never met before and show how they can crunch data and reach robust decisions under pressure.” All of which is great preparation for the Executive MBA program ahead.

MBA scholarships  vs.  grants

Much like MBA scholarships, grants allow students to get MBA funding to pay for their tuition without having to pay the money back. Often given by government entities or large companies, grants aim to support program participants that fit certain criteria. Ashley Arnold, director of MBA recruitment for the EMBA and Flexible Executive MBA, at Henley Business School, points applicants to The Grants Register, published by Palgrave Macmillan: “[It is] most authoritative and comprehensive guide available about postgraduate grants and professional funding worldwide. Each entry has been verified by the awarding bodies concerned ensuring that every piece of information is accurate. As an annual publication, each edition also provides the most current details available today. Copies are available in the reference section of most public libraries.”

MBA scholarships and grants are not the only way MBA funding is being given away by top business schools, though; there are a number of foundations and organizations that seek out candidates that may fit the cause or population segment you just happen to align with. Dan-Thi Nguyen, communications manager at HEC Lausanne says, “As we are part of a public institution, HEC Lausanne does not offer any scholarships. However, we serve as a link to the MBA for Women Charitable Foundation that provides financial support to ambitious women from Germany, Switzerland and Austria who want to do an MBA at a leading business school.” Many such foundations exist, based around a variety of issues, so be sure to ask the financial aid office at the school where you are applying if they know of any that may match perfectly with you. A quick Google search will always get your research started nicely and help you narrow down where you can seek out further information on MBA funding for top business schools. 

Click here for part 2 of this article.

This article was originally published in October 2014 . It was last updated in July 2019

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Written by

Dawn Z Bournand is associate director of the Executive MBA department at QS and handles editorial content for the department which includes serving as editor-in-chief of the QS TopExecutive Guide. Along with two of her QS colleagues, she recently wrote the book, QS TopExecutive Passport - Your essential document for entry into the world of Executive MBAs.  One of her favorite parts of the job is serving as an MBA/EMBA expert on webinars and panels, at conferences and in the media.


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