With the global shift towards online education following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, pursuing an Online MBA has emerged as a flexible and accessible option for those who otherwise would not pursue the flagship business masters degree.
However, as the demand for Online MBA programs continues to grow, so does the cost of education. While the value of an Online MBA is undeniable, the financial burden can often pose a significant obstacle for aspiring students. Thankfully, in response to this challenge, an array of Online MBA scholarships and financial aid opportunities have been developed by business schools and other external organizations.
So where can aspiring Online MBA candidates find these funding opportunities?
It is the combination of different resources that often leads to a successful scholarship, says Fred Lemke, director of the Online MBA at Belgium’s Vlerick Business School. First, business school websites tend to provide great information. “Second, scholarship databases are always worth checking,” he adds. Those include Find MBA.
“Third, some professional associations may also support,” Lemke says. “Fourth, scholarships could also come from corporations, where the potential Online MBA candidate is currently working or where they may become a future employee.”
Maximize your chances of securing financial aid
But how can these students approach the financial aid process proactively to maximize their chances of receiving the most favorable aid package? It is always good to apply very early, Lemke says. “You could describe the allocation sometimes as first come, first serve.” He adds that it’s important to do self-reflection and know how one stands out. “Showcasing the qualifications as well as achievements in general is helpful.”
Moreover, he says it is important to demonstrate that the career goals are clear and to highlight the impact the Online MBA will have on achieving the aims. “Lastly, establishing contact with the business school to show interest and to keep in touch is also a key to becoming successful. When awards and new funding opportunities become available, you may hear about it first.”
Strong essays and interview performance are key to a stand-out scholarship application, says Karla Litton, business development manager at Warwick Business School in the UK. “They are your opportunity to tell us your story and demonstrate what you will bring to your cohort. So, take time to reflect on your achievements, the challenges you’ve overcome, what you’ve learnt from your mistakes and the competencies that you’ve developed.”
For Warwick’s Global Online MBA, scholarships of up to 25 percent of the tuition fees are available.
How business schools award scholarships
In evaluating a candidate’s suitability for a scholarship, Warwick adopts a holistic approach, considering criteria such as evidence of individual impact, alignment with the school’s core values, a desire to make a positive difference in the world, and the ability to become an ambassador for the business school.
Litton says the scholarships or bursaries are designed to promote excellence as well as support diversity and inclusion. “A number of bursaries are available to candidates experiencing economic hardship for reasons beyond their control -- for example, severe economic downturn in an economy, being domiciled in a country in conflict or holding refugee status.”
More and more business schools appreciate a variety of different backgrounds in their Online MBA programs, says Lemke at Vlerick. “Divesity is something business schools tend to prioritize, in order to create a rounded and inclusive student body.”
He adds that it’s also possible to negotiate a stronger financial aid package, through specific strategies. “Take the opportunity to clearly emphasize the commitment and the strong interest to attend the business school. Highlighting how the financial aid package will make all the difference to the career or to life overall, is typically considered in making financial aid offers.”
Needless to say, when it comes to any type of negotiation, professionalism, respect, and courtesy is the fundamental basis to engage in conversations about financial aid packages, says Lemke.