An MBA is a massive financial investment, though the returns can be even bigger than tuition fees.
There’s also lost earnings to consider — or opportunity cost. Getting into an elite program is incredibly difficult, with the top schools typically only admitting a fraction of those who apply. That means successful candidates are mostly high-fliers, who have to forgo usually fat pay checks to get the degree.
Happily, business schools are going to great lengths to offer financial aid to their students. Millions of dollars’ worth of scholarships are being awarded each year, as competition for the best and brightest students heats up. In fact, some savvy students are even negotiating their own scholarship offers, pitting one school against another in a bid to secure more financial aid.
MBA scholarships generally fall into two categories: need-based and merit-based. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their achievements, for example those with exceptional GMAT scores, strong undergraduate performance, or leadership experience. Need-based MBA scholarships are awarded based on students’ financial need, often in the hope of attracting a more diverse range of participants into MBAs. That’s important because peer learning is the mantra of the MBA.
Below are the 10 best MBA programs for scholarships, based on total amount awarded as well as the breadth of scholarships offered, and support for finding other funding sources. The below schools were chosen based on publicly-available scholarship data.
To find scholarships, you can also see FIND MBA’s MBA Scholarship directory here.
With a $34 million financial aid budget, HBS provides need-based support to about 50 percent of its MBA students. As of this year, the average HBS financial aid package is approximately $40,000 per year, or $80,000 total for the two-year course. In addition, the HBS financial aid team helps students find loans to cover the full MBA cost — not just tuition fees but living, travel and other expenses.View School Profile
CEIBS, in Shanghai, has a rich and diversified financial aid scheme for both domestic Chinese and overseas MBA students. In 2018, 30 percent of the MBA cohort received scholarships covering 20-100 percent of their tuition fees. In addition, 40 percent of the cohort received loans covering 25-100 percent of tuition fees.View School Profile
Stanford offers generous scholarships to help MBA students fund the full cost of attendance. They are gifts that do not have to be repaid. The average GSB award is about $35,000 per year, or $70,000 in total awards. They are awarded on a needs basis. Once students are admitted, GSB calculates expected student contribution to fees based on their financial situation. The gap between the cost of attendance and the expected student contribution is covered by a combination of scholarships and loans.View School Profile
All admitted MBA students are considered for Wharton’s financial aid program. The criteria include unique personal qualities and background; academic or professional achievement; and community involvement. There are six different “fellowships” available to MBA applicants, including for those who demonstrate social impact or come from emerging economies. In addition, 19 different companies and foundations provide fellowships to Wharton MBA students, among them Bain & Company, Citigroup and Credit Suisse.View School Profile
Every admitted applicant is considered for a merit scholarship, which range from partial to full tuition for the entire two-year MBA — some MBA candidates have been known to receive financial awards as high as $66,000. The awards are based on prior academic achievement, demonstrated leadership qualities, community involvement, extracurricular work and professional accomplishments. Several specific scholarships are also available. They include the Keller Scholars scheme that covers 100 percent of tuition for exceptional students. And the school also provides several assistance schemes to attract students who want to become social entrepreneurs.View School Profile
INSEAD offers one of the broadest scholarship offerings. The school in France and Singapore offers its MBA students more than 90 different scholarships. They are based on either merit, such as leadership abilities, or demonstrated financial need. The scholarships range from those for specific nationals, for instance Belgian or German-born candidates, to those from non-traditional backgrounds, and many more scholarships.View School Profile
More than $1.5 million is available to all MBA applicants through merit-based scholarships at Georgetown McDonough. They are awarded based on an applicant’s academic, personal, and professional accomplishments — things that are assessed during the application interview. The school also offers funding for all veterans enrolled in its MBA: $15,000 per year, up from $10,000 in previous years.View School Profile
At Babson College, the fellowships are among the most generous. Each fellow receives an award covering their full tuition fees, books and supplies, in anticipation of significant academic and professional contributions to the business school. Students have received awards of as much as $60,000 at Babson. There are also more specific awards, for example a full tuition scholarship awarded to those who will bring diversity to the school community, such as those who are members of the National Association of Black Accountants, Association of Latino Professionals for America, or the National Association of Asian American Professionals.View School Profile
London Business School has a unique scheme in which alumni provide financial support to prospective students — varying amounts, up to full fees. All successful MBA applicants who have clear academic and professional merit can apply for one. There are also a range of sector, gender and nationality specific scholarships. An example is the entrepreneurship scholarship covering up to 50 percent of fees to a budding startup enthusiast.View School Profile
Kellogg offers a wide variety of merit scholarships to exceptional students who demonstrate, for example, academic excellence, a track record of leadership or community impact. All told, there are 14 types of scholarships on offer for such candidates. In addition, Kellogg offers five diversity scholarships. What’s more, students who are US citizens or permanent residents can apply for financial need-based aid. And there are three types of scholarships for those in the second year of the MBA. On breadth, the Kellogg awards appear hard to beat.View School Profile
Related MBA News
How to Fund an MBA During a Global Pandemic
Aug 04, 2021
Funding has become an even more pressing concern for MBA applicants this year due to the economic uncertainty
Are Astronomical MBA Tuition Fees Coming Back Down to Earth?
Aug 18, 2020
After years of inflation-busting tuition fee increases, elite business schools are finding ways to curb the substantial cost of a full-time MBA
MBA Scholarships for International Students in the US
May 07, 2018
A round-up of MBA funding options for international students studying in the US
MBA Scholarships For International Students in the UK
Jul 03, 2017
International MBA students in the UK have plenty of scholarship options available, if they know where to look