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MBA Funding – A Guide

Given how expensive a Masters of Business Administration can be, it’s no surprise that securing MBA funding is a big priority for many prospective students. However, there is support available to contribute towards (or cover) hefty tuition fees and assist with living costs.

This page will cover how to finance an MBA, covering several funding options, from MBA scholarships and bursaries to loans and employer sponsorship. If you’d like to find out more about the qualification itself, we’ve written a dedicated guide to the MBA.

MBA scholarships and bursaries

There are many different scholarships and bursaries aimed at helping talented prospective MBA students get their dream qualification. Most universities and business schools will run their own funding schemes to attract the brightest and best applicants from all backgrounds. Similarly, scholarships are offered by various organisations and institutions from across the world.

MBA scholarships from universities will typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Widening participation awards for students from backgrounds that are traditionally less well-represented on MBA programmes (some scholarship schemes are only open to women, for example)
  • Academic merit awards for applicants with an outstanding university record and excellent results in graduate entry tests like the GMAT
  • Sector-specific scholarships for students with a background in a particular industry (engineering or healthcare, for example)
  • Funding for international students from certain regions or countries

The best way to find these kinds of scholarship is to check directly with your preferred university. We’ve written a guide to institutional funding that includes a handy list of universities’ postgraduate funding pages.

External organisations are another source of MBA grants and scholarships. The schemes below are primarily aimed at international students:

  • Chevening scholarships are offered by the UK Government to help talented international postgraduates study in the UK
  • The Fulbright Commission runs a series of postgraduate awards for American students to study in the UK
  • The Said Foundation offers scholarships for students from Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Syria to study in the UK
  • Sainsbury Management Fellowships are available for Engineering graduates from the UK, EU and EEA to study an MBA at selected business schools around the world

Postgraduate funding advice

For more information on different funding options, take a look at our guides to financial support for international students in the UK, charities and trusts and postgraduate loans.

What qualities will I need to show when applying for an MBA scholarship?

As you’d expect, competition is tough for MBA scholarships. You’ll need to demonstrate in your application that you’ve got the skills and experience needed to succeed on a demanding MBA programme.

These are some of the main characteristics that universities and funding organisations will be looking out for when assessing scholarship applicants:

  • Leadership potential
  • Evidence of entrepreneurship / intrapreneurship
  • A track record of innovation
  • Proven commitment to a particular sector (for example, engineering or healthcare)

The application process for an MBA scholarship may involve writing a personal statement, providing a reference or attending an interview.

How much are MBA scholarships worth?

The precise amount depends on the scholarship, the MBA and the institution offering it. As a general rule, scholarships will consist of a combination of the following elements of financial support:

  • Full tuition fee waiver or a partial contribution towards tuition fees
  • Living costs grant
  • Travel costs (flights from your home country, for example)
  • Alumni discounts

The cost of an MBA

It’s no secret that an MBA is one of the most expensive postgraduate qualifications around – but that’s where scholarships, bursaries and other forms of funding come in.

According to the most recent survey of UK postgraduate fees, the average cost of an MBA for home / EU students is £18,410 while international students will pay on average £19,924.

Find out more about the cost of a Masters.

MBA loans

If you’re studying at a university or business school in the UK, you may be able to help finance your MBA through one of the UK Government’s postgraduate loans, which are available to UK and EU nationals. These are the amounts you could borrow in the 2020-21 academic year, depending on the country you’re ordinarily resident in:

  • England – £11,222
  • Scotland – £10,000 (£5,500 is a tuition fee loan and £4,500 is a maintenance loan)
  • Wales – £17,489 (this is a combination of loans and grants)
  • Northern Ireland – £5,500

For more information on eligibility and conditions, please visit our guide to UK Masters loans.

Of course, it won’t have escaped your attention that a postgraduate loan probably won’t be enough to cover the tuition fees of an MBA by itself, not to mention your living costs.

The good news is that you can combine these postgraduate loans from the UK Government with other forms of MBA funding – scholarships, bursaries and alumni discounts, for example – as long as that funding doesn’t come from a public source.

Commercial bank loans

If you find that you can’t fully cover the costs of an MBA through a scholarship or one of the UK Government’s postgraduate loans, you may want to consider taking out a private MBA student loan via a commercial lender. These MBA loans are usually available for international students at UK universities, as well as domestic students. There are lots of differences between these commercial loans and government loans, and it’s important not to confuse the two.

Repayment terms and interest rates aren’t as favourable for private loans as they are for government loans – you’ll need to pay back the money according to a strict schedule after you graduate, not when you’re earning a certain amount.

These commercial loans can be helpful for those studying particularly expensive qualifications, such as the MBA, but you should think very carefully and consider your options before taking one out.

For more information, read our guide to postgraduate bank loans.

Employer sponsorship

It’s worth bearing in mind that an MBA could represent an attractive investment for your employer. After all, these programmes are aimed at enhancing experienced business professionals and are designed to develop advanced leadership skills that could prove invaluable in your current organisation.

You’ll need to persuade your employer that sponsoring your MBA would be worthwhile for the company as well as your own continuing professional development. You should give them a clear idea of what you want to achieve with the programme, your future goals and how this will benefit the business.

Take a look at our guide to employer sponsorship for more information.

Part-time work and study

Part-time study is a relatively common option for MBA degrees. Many programmes are intended to be completed by practising management professionals and some courses actually set tasks for students to apply within their workplace.

A part-time MBA could therefore be a great way to study while continuing to earn money. These kinds of programmes are designed with the busy lives of business and management professionals in mind, often with flexible weekend and evening classes.

Of course, a part-time MBA is a big undertaking and you’ll need to be able to effectively juggle work, study and personal obligations. You should make sure that your employer understands that you may occasionally need time off for exams and other study commitments.

The UK Government’s postgraduate loans are available for part-time Masters like these. The amount you borrow will be divided evenly across the duration of your MBA programme.

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Last updated - 15/06/2020

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