Scott Edinburgh
July 28, 2021

How to Maximize Your Chance for an MBA Scholarship

With the cost of tuition at some of the top MBA programs topping US$80,000 per year, financing an MBA can be challenging. And while many MBA students take out graduate student loans to fund their studies, MBA scholarship money, though somewhat elusive, is available every application year.

In fact, Personal MBA Coach’s clients earned over $6.5M in scholarships last year!

Below, Personal MBA Coach shares our tips for maximizing your chances of scholarship success!

First, let’s discuss the basics of MBA scholarships.

MBA scholarships, sometimes referred to as MBA fellowships, fall into two major categories:

1. Merit-based money offered as a result of the MBA application.

The vast majority of scholarship money is offered based on your original MBA application. In these instances, candidates do not submit additional materials to be considered and schools offer money to candidates they are trying to attract (often away from other schools).

This money can come directly from the school itself, having nothing to do with the applicant’s specific demographic or professional background. Or the scholarship may be in collaboration with another organization. While this other organization may suggest guidelines for consideration, the admissions committee members ultimately make the final scholarship decisions.

For example, one of our partners, the Forté Foundation, gives the following guidelines to admissions directors selecting Forté MBA Fellowship recipients:

  • Candidates should exhibit exemplary leadership in one or more ways: academic leadership, team leadership, community leadership, and creative leadership.
  • Candidates should represent a diversity of educational and work backgrounds, career goals, ethnicities, citizenship/nationality, sexual orientation, and gender identities/expression.
  • Candidates should demonstrate a commitment to Forté’s mission of launching women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women.
  • Additional requirements may be set by individual schools (for example, alignment with school’s mission or core values)

Forté provides MBA scholarships for women applying to any of their partner schools. These include top MBA programs such as Harvard Business School, Wharton, Chicago Booth and Kellogg.

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2. MBA scholarships that students apply for directly.

These scholarships generally target specific candidates based on industry, ethnicity, gender, etc. A separate application is required for each of these scholarships, and specific criteria apply.

Examples include:

The Consortium (note: you can also apply to participating schools through the scholarship application): Since 1966, we have offered more than $465 million in fellowships to the best and brightest MBA students in the country. We have programs that cover full tuition and mandatory fees for two years of full-time study (Emory also offers a one-year program).

NBMBAA (National Black MBA Association): NBMBAA is positioned to help the Black community reach the highest levels of academia, increase lifetime median income potential and reduce unemployment rates among the Black community. With 20,000 members in 40 professional Chapters, we strive to increase awareness and facilitate access to graduate and business education programs in professional fields.

NSHMBA/Prospanica (The National Society of Hispanic MBAs): Since our founding as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs in 1988, we’ve hosted annual career and professional development conferences, connecting thousands of Hispanics to graduate programs, subject matter experts, corporations, and each other.

Prospanica has given over $8 million in scholarships for graduate education, and many of those recipients have led our professional chapters and university chapters across the US and Puerto Rico, advancing diversity causes in their own communities. In 2016, as Hispanics continued to occupy a growing portion of the nation’s demographics, we rebranded as Prospanica to broaden our mission to serve all Hispanic professionals.

Now that you know the basics about MBA Scholarships, find out what you can do to maximize your chances of earning one of these coveted scholarships.

mba-scholarshipsHere are 4 key MBA Scholarship tips from Personal MBA Coach.

1. Ensure your application stands out!

The good news for candidates hoping to receive a scholarship is that the same advice Personal MBA Coach provides on developing stand-out applications applies to developing scholarship-winning applications (which is why our clients earn significant MBA scholarships).

Admissions directors are tasked with selecting diverse and well-rounded classes. For candidates seeking scholarships, it is particularly crucial that your application tells a solid story about how you will uniquely add value on campus.

2. Court your target schools.

MBA admissions directors have limited funds to distribute. They do not want to waste these funds on candidates not truly interested in their programs. Therefore, while it is not required, getting to know a school can help your chances of receiving an MBA scholarship.

While COVID-19 is still restricting campus visits, MBA hopefuls have multiple other options for reaching out to and connecting with their target MBA programs. In the best-case scenario, you can utilize these virtual offerings to build rapport with an admissions representative and directly improve your chances of earning a scholarship.

Even if this does not happen, attending online events and interacting with the school you hope to attend will give you valuable material to use as you develop standout essays. Remember, students can also be a valuable resource since admissions directors may not be as available to chat with you.

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3. Submit your applications as early as possible.

With a limited amount of money to go around, the earlier you apply, the better. Schools want to be sure that their classes are filled with well-rounded students and are more likely to use scholarships to ensure this earlier in the process.

By round 3, less money is left.

That said, scholarship money is sometimes offered later in the year as additional funding becomes available.

4. Excel in as many areas as possible.

While this may seem obvious, Personal MBA Coach often sees candidates who have a decent GMAT, GRE or EA score yet have not maximized their scores. If you took the test just once or twice and/or did little preparation, consider getting a tutor to reach your full potential!

Similarly, we see candidates who do not want to dedicate time outside of the office to beef up their extracurricular profiles.

While Personal MBA Coach always advises that candidates develop well-rounded portfolios, this is particularly crucial for those looking for an MBA scholarship. Scholarship recipients most often excel in multiple areas.

About Personal MBA Coach

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!

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