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Studying for an MBA is a huge financial commitment, but to alleviate some of the pressure, there are an increasing number of business school scholarships on offer to help ease the bank balance.
Funding provisions vary by region. The US leads the way, while Europe and Asia are still catching up. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, half of the MBA students in the 2014-15 academic year received awards, paying for 58 per cent of their tuition.
At the University of Virginia’s Darden school, 111 students from the class of 2016 (34 per cent) will benefit. This will pay for, on average, 60 per cent of the tuition and required fees.
In Europe by comparison, at London Business School, a fifth of the 410 current full-time MBA students receive scholarships paying an average of around 40 per cent of the tuition. While at Insead, in France and Singapore, 231 students from the class of 2015 (22 per cent) secured funding covering a fifth of the tuition.
Awards can cover other expenses too. Pauline Cheung, assistant director of MBA programmes for Hong Kong UST Business School, says one of the school’s most generous awards is La Caixa Scholarship, which is available to Spanish nationals with two years work experience. Not only does it cover the full tuition fee, it includes a monthly allowance of HK$16,670 and €1,200 for travel expenses. Ms Cheung says this enables the candidate to study for an MBA almost free of charge. Overall, 39 per cent of the 112 full-time students from the 2014 intake at HKUST have been given funding support, paying 21 per cent of the tuition.
Reasons for support
Scholarships can help vary the student demographic profile, which in turn leads to diverse classes.
MBA programme director Shimin Chen of Ceibs in China mentions that among those who received funding in 2013 and 2014, more than 43 per cent were international students.
“As more and more Chinese firms go global, the economy as a whole has a great need for top international talent,” says Prof Chen. “Recognising this need, we have allocated more scholarships for international students.”
A diverse class also includes those from non-business backgrounds, says David Simpson, admissions director for the MBA at London Business School. There are awards to encourage applications from such candidates, for example, LBS offers the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Military Veteran Scholarship. For military personnel, the financial challenge is larger than for investment bankers or consultants as the latter are often sponsored by their employers, he points out.
Mr Simpson also adds that the capacity to offer funding to attract the best students is crucial as European business schools are up against their more generous US competitors.
Additionally, scholarships are a means to achieving gender equality, explains Philippe Oster, director of communications at HEC Paris “There is an undeniable gender wage gap that dissuades and even prevents women from pursuing further education for fear of a lack of return on investment.
“In order to redress this balance and encourage women to pursue the MBA, we offer specific scholarships for women candidates, such as the Forté Foundation and Fondation Rainbow Bridge,” he states.
To boost chances of securing merit-based funds, it is essential to get to know the admissions team to find out what qualities they are looking for.
This advice comes from Leigh Gauthier, acting director of recruitment and admissions for the MBA at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Prospective students should also take the time to highlight their accomplishments on their résumé or CV, she advises.
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