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MBA Scholarships: How to Secure Funds

03 Oct
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While it’s absolutely worthwhile to obtain an online MBA because the degree can increase your professional connections, salary, and career opportunities, MBAs do cost money.

One way to offset the cost of an online MBA is to obtain one, or more, scholarships. All MBA scholarships are extremely beneficial to students because they offer:

  • Financial support
  • Ease or nullify the need for student loans
  • Recognition
  • Resume credentials1

Read on to learn about the types of MBA scholarships are available to online students and how you can obtain a scholarship for your own educational pursuits.

Types of MBA Scholarships

There are two types of MBA scholarships, internal and external.2 Prospective students should consider both types when applying to programs, as there are no limits to scholarships you can be awarded. Combining different types of awards can help allay some, if not all, of your MBA tuition costs.

Internal Scholarships

The first type is internal. These scholarships are offered by the program institutions themselves and have some sub-types:

  • University-wide (available to all prospective graduate students)
  • Full-tuition MBA scholarships
  • Full-ride MBA scholarships3

University-wide scholarships are open to online MBA students as well as other students attending the university. When applying for university-wide internal scholarships, make sure you review all of the materials you are submitted to the online MBA extensively, as those will also be vetted when considering your scholarship application.

Many b-schools, business schools at a university level that offer management classes, have a number of full-ride and full-tuition scholarships for their students. Full-tuition scholarships are a wonderful monetary award because they cover all tuition costs of a program. Full-ride scholarships are even more beneficial, financially. They cover all tuition and associated program costs including books, housing, study-related travel, research costs, and more, so earning your online MBA comes at zero cost to you while delivering an educational experience with plenty of perks.

External Scholarships

External scholarships are offered on a wider scale to students, regardless of the program they plan to attend. There are a few external sub-types to consider:

  • National scholarships
  • National fellowships3

While some scholarships on the national level do not designate an associated program that the recipient must attend, be aware that certain national scholarships “involve collaborations between nonprofit organizations and multiple B-schools,” and applicants need to apply to the associated school in order to be considered.3 While scholarships and fellowships overlap in many ways, fellowships are designated as scholarships for people who have already earned their college degree and who are pursuing an additional, hyper-specialized education.4

How to Apply

As with all scholarships, no matter the type, be sure to fully review requirements and disbursement schedules and rules before applying. This will help you to ensure your time spent seeking scholarships is maximized and not spent on any programs that won’t be a good fit for you. Check to see what each is being awarded on the basis of so you can apply to ones that you will be a strongly qualified candidate for.

In general, MBA scholarships are awarded on the basis of need and/or merit. Some key needs of MBA scholarships address are:

  • Financial need
  • Equality opportunities
  • Merit rewards

Merit-based scholarships are given to students who show academic excellence (extracurricular activities, standardized test scores, grades) while need-based awards are given based on the financial needs of a student.5 In order to attract a larger pool of diverse applicants, according to U.S. News & World Report, “Some programs have elected to focus on giving need-based financial aid rather than merit scholarships, such as the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, which recently changed its financial aid system.”6

Awards are given to candidates based upon:

  • Academic experience (Undergraduate GPA, courses taken, academic awards)
  • Exam results (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELST)
  • Leadership attributes (Your initiatives and experience in and outside of work)
  • Work experience (Career progression and achievements)
  • Goal clarity (Where you want your career to go)
  • Diversity (Your personal experience, interests, perspectives, and the uniqueness you bring to the program)
  • Other merits and achievements to date1

Keep in mind, online MBA programs aren’t looking for one specific type of recipient with one specific type of background or academic achievement to give their awards to. Schools are, however, looking for well-rounded, experienced candidates that are more than just a perfect GMAT or GRE score. Make sure you shine as an applicant in all of your application materials. Highlight your experiences and share what you can bring to a program as a student and an alum. Don’t be afraid to share your professional, academic, and personal accomplishments, boldly, in the application materials in order to let reviewers know how you stand out from others in the applicant pool. Candidates that show a promising future and the drive to succeed will be sure to land solidly on scholarship committee radars.

As with all applications, thoroughly review and polish your submission materials before submitting them. What you turn in will be seen as a direct reflection of you as a potential recipient of a prized reward with limited supply. Applications, essays, and even basic information forms should be error-free, stick to listed word limits, answer designated questions effectively, and provide a genuine, compelling picture of who you are and why you would be an ideal recipient. MBA, university, and national scholarship committees will be comparing what you submit directly to other scholarship submissions, so make sure to submit your best work and remain a top contender for scholarship awards.

As a general rule, when it comes to applying to these scholarships, more is more. Don’t hesitate to apply to multiple scholarships, even those you aren’t sure you will win—as long as you are suitably qualified. Prospective students often think they won’t be able to land a scholarship for a number of reasons, but the only factor keeping them from obtaining much-needed MBA financial support is simply not applying in the first place. In truth, the fear of rejection keeps many MBA students from seeking scholarships they are eligible and qualified to receive and would get, had they not listened to their worries.3

Once you have gathered and polished your application and scholarship materials for submission, applying to more than one MBA scholarship will be easier. If you are applying to a number of scholarships, do not forget to spend a bit of extra time tailoring your submissions for each program/scholarship, as needed. Blanket submissions for important scholarships won’t read as well as submissions that show a touch of specification and personalization.

Where to Find MBA Scholarships

Finding the right scholarships to apply to can be time-consuming. Thankfully, there are a good number of helpful websites that list MBA scholarships. These sites offer search options that let students easily narrow down scholarship options quickly. Today, you can search for MBA scholarships based on a wide range of important categories, including:

  • Keywords
  • Your degree specialization
  • School location
  • Gender eligibility2

Internal and external scholarship awards do add up and can prove quite lucrative, in totality. Be sure to also examine the list of university-wide scholarships available to all graduate students of each institution to apply to, and search for national scholarships, to ensure you are seeking out every MBA scholarship opportunity.

Once you’ve been awarded your scholarship(s), you can then decide which online MBA program suits you—and your newfound financial picture—best. While a number of online MBA programs cost less than many traditional on the ground programs, be sure to look for a top-ranked, low-cost online MBA program, like the University of Kansas online MBA program, when finalizing your list of schools to attend so that you get the next phase of your business career blossoming with a quality degree you can afford.

Unlock your full career potential today.

An online MBA from a top-ranked program can open up opportunities for positions with more responsibility and higher pay. The #20 online MBA from the University of Kansas provides the skills and experience you need to redefine your career.7 To learn more about what KU’s highly-rated online MBA has to offer for you, make an appointment with one of our admissions advisors today.