A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has long been considered the golden ticket toward pursuing an executive role at an organization. In fact, 22.3% of the top CEOs throughout the world hold an MBA and 68.7% of CEOs in the U.S. have this credential.1 Although an MBA degree could provide a means for you to position yourself for possible career advancement, financing your graduate education may sometimes present a hurdle.
It’s possible to partially or even completely finance an MBA degree through business school scholarships. Scholarship MBA opportunities, but it takes persistence and patience to secure them. This ultimate guide to MBA scholarships can help you get started, but remember - the more scholarships you apply to, the better your chances can be.
In This Article:
- Recent Scholarship MBA Trends Involving MBA Students
- Types of Scholarships for MBA Students
- Scholarship MBA Opportunities to Pursue
- How To Increase Your Chances of Getting an Online MBA Scholarship
Recent Scholarship MBA Trends Involving MBA Students
Is it really possible to finance your graduate education with scholarships? Many aspiring MBA students hesitate to apply to scholarships, believing that it won’t be worth the time or effort. In fact, data shows that 1 in 8 students are likely to receive a scholarship.2
Applications to business schools have fallen in recent years, and in an effort to entice more qualified candidates to pursue an MBA, an increasing amount of scholarship money has become available. From 2017 to 2020, the total number of scholarships available to MBA students increased by at least 30%, and the total value of the scholarships awarded has increased by 50%.3
A little-known tip to keep in mind is that scholarships for MBA students are sometimes negotiable.3 If you are a solid, but not a top tier candidate who has been admitted to a business school (b-school), the b-school may offer you a somewhat less desirable scholarship package. It’s sometimes possible to negotiate a more desirable scholarship and aid package with the admissions office. For example, you might use a higher offer by a different b-school as leverage to negotiate a more favorable package at your preferred b-school.
Types of Scholarships for MBA Students
There are different ways of categorizing scholarships for MBA students. For example, scholarship committees assess applicants on the basis of pre-determined criteria. This means a scholarship award decision may be predominantly based on the applicant’s merit (e.g. undergraduate transcripts) or financial need. Alternatively, some may be available for minorities, military veterans or their family members and so on.
Another way to categorize MBA scholarships is by the source that offers them. Below, you can explore the four most common sources of graduate school scholarships for MBA students. It may be worth it to apply to all four types, and in fact, the more scholarships you apply to, the better.
1. University-Offered Scholarships
It’s common for universities to offer their own scholarships to applicants to entice them to attend those schools. Any student who is thinking of attending that university — MBA student or otherwise—may apply.
2. Business School Scholarships
There is even less competition for b-school scholarships, which are only available to aspiring MBA students, rather than to the entire student body throughout the university. A b-school-offered scholarship may provide partial funding for your MBA program.
3. B-School-Affiliated National Scholarship MBA Opportunities
This category of scholarship MBA opportunities refers to national scholarships and fellowships that oblige students to attend specific business schools. The scholarships are typically affiliated with those schools which are collaborations between the schools and the nonprofit organizations offering the funding.
One example is the Forté Foundation, which offers the Forté Fellowship.4 This program is affiliated with several business schools. Applicants must first apply to one of the affiliated schools in order to be eligible to pursue the fellowship. Military MBA is much the same, offering scholarships to MBA students who have served in the military and are planning to attend one of the Military MBA member schools.5
4. Non-Affiliated Private Scholarship Opportunities for MBA Students
Other national scholarship and fellowship opportunities are available for MBA students to pursue regardless of which business school they want to attend. These include both small scholarships worth a few thousand dollars or even less, all the way up to full-tuition scholarships.
Many aspiring MBA students decide to apply only to the scholarships worth the most money. Bear in mind that those will also have a higher level of competition. Yes, you should definitely apply to all those you are eligible for, but don’t overlook small awards worth a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars.
There is often far less competition for the smaller scholarships than for the larger ones. You may have a better opportunity to stand out as a competitive candidate. Plus, if you can obtain multiple small scholarship awards, they can add up to an impactful amount.
Scholarship MBA Opportunities to Pursue
There are so many scholarship opportunities available. About 1.7 million scholarships are awarded each year to undergraduate and graduate students.6 If you’re applying to multiple scholarships, it can get a little confusing to keep track of them.
Consider creating a spreadsheet to help you stay on top of your applications. You can use the spreadsheet to easily track application due dates, application package requirements and the status of your applications. You can also create a list of scholarships that you intend to apply to. The following are databases that include scholarship opportunities for graduate students:
CollegeBoard’s BigFuture Fastweb GoGrad Sallie Mae – Scholarship Search Scholarship America UNIGO
Within these databases, you’ll find many opportunities to pursue. Here’s a quick look at a few of the scholarships that you may want to consider.
- Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship
- IADA Business Aviation Scholarship
- Military MBA
- National Black MBA Association Partner Scholarships
- Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
- QS World Merit Scholarships
- Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program
- ROMBA Fellowship
- SHRM Foundation Scholarships and Awards
- Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Personal Injury Scholarship
How To Increase Your Chances of Getting an Online MBA Scholarship
These days, most scholarship applications are handled online. The most competitive candidates will be those with a strong academic background and history of accomplishments, as well as those with demonstrable financial need. It’s always worth going the extra mile to improve your chances. Use the following tips to increase your odds of obtaining online MBA scholarship funding:
- Read the application instructions carefully and follow them precisely.
- Finish your application package well before it’s due. Set it aside for at least a few days, and then go over it again with fresh eyes. Correct grammar and punctuation mistakes, and look for other ways of improving it.
- Present yourself in the best possible light, even if it feels a little like bragging.
- Consider taking the GMAT, even if your chosen business school doesn’t require a GMAT score for admission. Some scholarships are offered based in part on GMAT scores.
- Take your time writing any required essays. Ensure that it represents your best possible work and your unique voice, which will enable you to stand out from the crowd.
The Master of Business Administration degree from GCU requires a total of 34 to 46 credits for completion, depending upon your undergraduate background. Most of the MBA classes are eight weeks in length. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to learn more about joining our dynamic MBA learning community.
1 Filson, N. (2022, August 2). What to Study to Become a CEO & Where to Go to College. Preply. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
2 Scholarship Statistics 2023. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
3 Sameer, K.(2021, August 16). MBA Scholarship Statistics Reveal Prize Money Getting Bigger in Admissions Game. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
4 Forté Foundation. MBA Fellowships. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
5 Introduction to Military Scholarships. Military MBA. Retrieved on June 5, 2023.
6 Hanson, M. (2022, November 5). Scholarship Statistics. Education Data Initiative. Retrieved April 14, 2023.
Approved by the director of academic operations from the Colangelo College of Business on May 26, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.