How To Get Employers To Sponsor Your MBA
The MBA is an expensive investment. There’s no doubt about it.
For many, employee sponsorship can offer a cheaper option to fund the degree.
Andriana Mitrakos, of Legal Reader, recently discussed how MBA applicants can convince their company to fund the MBA.
“How can you avoid paying this [MBA] premium? The simplest way is to get on the right side of the sponsorship equation by asking your boss to support your MBA,” Mitrakos writes. “If the request is accepted, it can radically expand your financial options and even increase your chance of admission. Sponsorship also invests your employer in your personal success, often leading to better post-MBA roles.”
UNDERSTAND COMPANY POLICY
Before even submitting a request for MBA funding, it’s important to first examine and understand your company policy around sponsorship.
“At a huge company with an organized HR department, these policies will be written down on internal websites or in the employee handbook,” Mitrakos writes. “Some organizations may even have structured relationships with MBA admissions consultants and GMAT prep courses to guide your application choices and give you the best possible chance of success.”
At smaller companies, it may be more difficult to find a definitive policy. However, Mitrakos says, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your research.
“Just because there isn’t a written policy doesn’t mean your employer never sponsors MBAs—in our experience even some big-name employers make these decisions on an ad hoc basis through recommendations from supervisors,” Mitrakos writes. “In a less formal setting, discovering your company’s history of employee sponsorships is essential.”
Once you’ve understood your company’s policy around sponsorship, you’ll want to spend time sharpening your pitch.
Mitrakos stresses that the biggest mistake at this stage is failing to frame the MBA degree’s true value.
“Many applicants’ first instinct is to focus on what an MBA teaches: ‘I’ll come back with X, Y and Z business skills!’ This is a mistake,” Mitrakos writes. “While an MBA gives students a powerful business toolkit, the skills you learn in an MBA program can usually also be learned in the workplace. If you go in saying ‘I need to strengthen my quant analysis skills,’ you could easily walk out with just an offer to pair you with a strong quantitative mentor at the company.”
Rather, according to Mitrakos, applicants should focus on how the MBA can help them bring back “business practices and fresh ideas.”
“By working on business projects with classmates from other companies (even competitors), you will learn new processes and strategies that you can bring home with you after graduation,” Mitrakos writes. “The company isn’t paying to improve your personal career prospects, they’re essentially buying business intelligence from an innovation hotbed like HBS, Stanford, or Wharton.”
UNDERSTAND YOUR OFFER
If your pitch goes well, you’ll receive an offer for tuition sponsorship.
However, experts stress the importance of understanding the details that come with that offer.
“It may be an offer to cover your tuition, or it may be an offer to reimburse your costs,” according to Top MBA. “If it’s the latter, you will be required to complete the course to receive the money back. Other stipulations will usually include a minimum grade requirement and a contract guaranteeing that you’ll continue working for the company post-graduation. Breaking any of these requirements will result in either the company not reimbursing you or demanding the money back.”