MBA Scholarship Guide
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Though MBAs can offer a high return on investment, paying for them can be difficult. Special scholarships tailored to MBA students can help.
Students in undergraduate business programs and business professionals looking to advance or change careers often must weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing a master of business administration (MBA) degree. Many high-level business roles require this advanced degree, which can lead to strong salaries and leadership roles.
However, an MBA can cost between $40,000-$150,000, and MBA degree-seekers commonly need assistance in paying for their degrees. Applying for MBA scholarships can help put a dent in those costs.
Read on for our list of MBA scholarships, along with common requirements and qualifications you'll need to apply.
What Is an MBA Scholarship?
An MBA scholarship is a financial award for students who are pursuing an MBA, often provided by a school or nonprofit dedicated to a specific field in business. Educators and business leaders alike recognize the difficulty students face when paying for this degree, which is why they often offer merit- or identity-based scholarships for MBA majors.
Unlike loans, scholarships and fellowships do not require repayment. This gives learners a strong incentive to pursue scholarships, especially for students from low-income backgrounds or in online programs. Scholarships can help these learners avoid getting into significant loan debt.
How Do You Get an MBA Scholarship?
MBA scholarship providers tend to look for specific traits in candidates, and the application process can be fairly competitive. For example, many scholarship providers require a minimum 3.0-3.5 GPA. Many organizations also directly ask for resumes, CVs, and letters of recommendation for MBA scholarship applications. Some target specific demographics, like female-identified students or students of color.
Some scholarship providers prioritize established business professionals over current students. Typically, these scholarship providers like to see some kind of progression in an applicant's professional or academic career as they work toward more responsibility, prestige, and thoughtfulness.
Pursuing a degree while maintaining employment or joining a business-related professional association can bolster your MBA scholarship application. Your application should emphasize your goals, professional drive, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills to demonstrate how you intend to apply your degree after graduation.
MBA scholarship applications are usually not accepted on a rolling basis. Treat the deadline given on the scholarship application's materials or website as if it were final and get your application in early.
The following list of scholarships for MBA programs is a great place to start your financial aid research. Remember to always carefully study scholarship guidelines before applying to ensure you have met all of the requirements. For instance, Morgan Stanley's scholarship requires an internship, so it only applies to individuals ready to intern while earning their MBAs.
This list is not comprehensive. There are many more organizations, such as Military MBA Scholarships, Columbia Business School, and Lighthouse Guild, that offer funding for business administration majors. Be sure to conduct additional research to maximize your chances of finding the right scholarship for you.
Founded in 1888, AAUW is one of the oldest and largest resources for postsecondary women's education. The organization offers several fellowships and grants for women. Its Selected Professions Fellowship provides funds for women in master's programs in fields where women are underrepresented, including business. This program provides tuition for women, especially women of color, who are in the second year of their MBAs.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to students planning to pursue research or creatively focused master's or doctoral programs. MBA students transitioning to doctoral programs can also apply for this scholarship, which emphasizes research-based programs. Intellectually gifted students with significant academic achievements who demonstrate financial need may apply.
The Daughters of the Revolution is a nonprofit women's organization committed to preserving American history and civic ideals. The 130-year-old, volunteer-driven nonprofit offers several scholarships for women in higher education, including its Mary Elizabeth Lockwood Beneventi MBA scholarship. Women enrolled full time in MBA programs at accredited colleges or universities may apply. The nonprofit encourages students to reapply yearly.
Golden Key is the world's largest collegiate honor society. This invitation-only organization offers several scholarships for its members, including a graduate student award of $2,500 applicable to accredited colleges and universities. The scholarship application requires a resume/CV, a 500-word personal statement, and a letter of recommendation. Golden Key selects award recipients based on academic plans and career goals.
GFOA represents 19,000 public finance professionals in the U.S. and Canada. The nonprofit offers several scholarships for undergraduates and graduates majoring in finance and accounting-related majors who plan to work in local and state government. In particular, GFOA offers a Professional Development Scholarship for MBA majors pursuing education in government, economics, and finance.
Founded in 1975, HSF works to promote higher education for Hispanic American college students. HSF offers scholarships directly to Hispanic students of academic and professional promise. In addition to scholarship funds, students can also access HSF's Scholar Support Services for career services, wellness training, and internship and job opportunities with corporate partners.
KF promotes awareness of Polish American history and culture. The foundation offers scholarships for graduate and doctoral study for Polish American students of all majors. KF awards scholarship funds based on academic accomplishment, career plans, and involvement with the Polish American community. Awards are limited to two awards over the course of the student's studies. Students must provide proof of Polish ancestry.
Morgan Stanley offers an MBA fellowship program for female, POC, and LGBTQ+ MBA students. The program comprises a financial award and a summer internship that takes place between the first and second years of the MBA. Program completion sometimes results in a job offer from Morgan Stanley to work as an analyst, financial manager, or other related role.
The tax litigation firm Brown, PC offers its National Founder's Scholarship for graduate business students. The one-time, $500 stipend goes to graduate business students with a strong interest in pursuing entrepreneurship after graduation. The scholarship encourages applicants to include any documents relevant to their interests or experience in entrepreneurship.
NYU Stern offers several full- and half-tuition scholarships for MBA majors. These include merit-based scholarships, such as the Directors Scholarship or Alumni Scholarship, and the Consortium Fellowship, which helps POC, female, and LGBTQ+ students enter the business arena. Though most scholarships only award funds for the first year, all scholarship recipients qualify to receive donor funds in their second year.
The SHRM Foundation advocates for the professional advancement of human resource professionals. It currently offers a graduate scholarship for SHRM student members in human resources-related majors, such as business administration. Students receive one-time scholarship funds based on career plans, accomplishments, and work ethic. Full-time, part-time, online, and distance program enrollees may apply.
This Los Angeles-based nonprofit advocates for people of color working in advertising, marketing, and public relations professions. It currently offers a scholarship for Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American graduate students in majors related to these fields. This competitive scholarship also requires students to participate in a series of career-building activities on a paid trip to New York City.
Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston offers an MBA scholarship for full-time or professional UH students. The program sometimes awards recipients up to $10,000, but can also qualify them for in-state tuition rates and a two-year subscription to the Wall Street Journal. The program also offers GMAT waivers for candidates with outstanding professional experience.
How Can I Find Online MBA Scholarships?
Seasoned professionals and students who have recently completed undergraduate programs and are interested in earning an MBA online can seek out online MBA scholarships.
Students who are looking for in-person MBA scholarships can use the more general search terms that apply to traditional scholarships and financial aid resources. However, when looking specifically for online MBA scholarships, it's good practice to pair the search term "MBA scholarship" with terms like:
- Adult learner
- Distance education
Online students can also use organizing tools like spreadsheets to keep track of and sort scholarships by key data points, such as deadline or number of required letters of recommendation.
Where Should I Look for Full Scholarships for MBA Students?
When researching full scholarships for online and traditional MBA students, start with scholarship databases like Cappex, ScholarshipAmerica, and FinAid. TheBestSchools.org also maintains a financial aid database that covers scholarships that aren't MBA-specific.
Finally, it's a good idea to check out the financial aid pages of your college or university to see what they offer. You can also visit your school's business department in person to ask for scholarship listings.
How Can I Improve My Scholarship Application?
You can improve your scholarship application by presenting the best version of your career plans and professional development to scholarship providers. The most compelling MBA scholarship applications feature a few key elements, including:
- Strong work references and strong letters of recommendation from professional relationships.
- A compelling personal statement that clearly demonstrates your career plans, values, and professional experience.
- Academic transcripts with strong academic references and/or letters of recommendation.
- A resume that shows professional growth over time.
Nailing these elements requires good communication skills and personal ambition. Our guide to getting letters of recommendation is a good place to start.
Also, remember that scholarship providers all have different requirements, and it's important to make sure you meet each unique application brief. It can help to make a scholarship application spreadsheet that includes application material requirements, so you don't miss any details.
Common MBA Scholarship Questions
Yes. Many scholarship providers offer funds tailored specifically to MBA majors or to all majors in business, finance, and management-related fields.
Yes. Some online MBA programs offer scholarships for both full-time students and working professionals. One notable example is the online MBA at Indiana University.
Where Can I Get Scholarships for MBA? Prospective students can find MBA scholarships through their colleges or universities, as well as from nonprofits, corporations, and professional organizations.
You can find a full MBA scholarship by searching scholarship databases and including keywords such as "full" in your search terms.
Matthew Sweeney received his Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in English literature from Portland State. His writings on music and culture have appeared in the publications Eleven PDX Magazine and Secret Decoder. In his free time he enjoys reading, cinema, hiking, and cooking.
Header Image Credit: Carlina Teteris | Getty Images
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