Guide to MBA Scholarships for 2021 - Organizations, Awards & Eligibility
It’s easy to understand why so many MBA students care so much about scholarships. First, despite some exceptions, top-quality graduate business education in the United States has become an extraordinarily expensive proposition. And second, the increasing role that debt plays in financing higher education—including MBA programs—poses implications that concern many.
In 2014, New York University’s Stern School of Business became the first full-time MBA program to crash through the $200,000 total cost barrier. Never before had any university advised incoming students to budget more than $200,000 to pay for a master’s degree in business administration.
Today, these skyrocketing cost estimates have become common at the best private schools and even some public universities, but they still don’t completely account for all the costs many fail to recognize. Those involve opportunity costs—i.e., the economists’ concept of the costs of foregoing one thing in favor of something else. In that respect, $400,000 might seem more like the real cost of an elite MBA degree. Why? That’s because the opportunity cost from sacrificing a well-paying job for two years drives total costs well above tuition, fees, and living expenses at Harvard and similar universities; in general, students at those schools leave jobs already paying more than $85,000 a year.
Nevertheless, financing higher education with loans involves challenges. Student loan balances jumped nearly 150 percent in the decade preceding 2017 to reach $1.4 trillion, according to a report from Experian. The average outstanding balance is now $47,671 and total student loan debt hit $1.67 trillion in 2020—an all-time high.
Given that higher education has now become the second-largest expense for an individual in their lifetime, only topped by buying a home, it’s no wonder why so many students now look to scholarships and fellowships for help. Fortunately, research compiled for our profiles below revealed many scholarships that can help defray the cost of earning an MBA.
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Business School Scholarships: Common Application Requirements
Derived from the entries below, here are the common application requirements for MBA scholarships:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Competitive GPA from undergraduate program(s), at least a 3.0
- Either an in-person or video interview
- A personal statement of objectives
- Letters of recommendation
- GMAT or GRE score reports (may be optional)
- Proof of citizenship or permanent residency in the United States
Most (although not all) donors require prior admission at a specific partner business school; this is why locating qualifying MBA scholarships is a challenging process. In our guide below, we’ve included examples of such donors that include the Arizona State University W.P. Carey Forward Focus MBA Scholarship, the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Scholarships, and the University of Houston. Please note that we’ve tried our best to focus on scholarships that don’t restrict their recipients’ business school selections.
In other cases, donors require prior admission to at least one of a network of partner business schools. This requirement seems to be especially common among certain prestigious, lucrative scholarships offered to underrepresented groups such as women and people of color. In our profiles below, foundations with business school network admission requirements include The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, the Committee of 200 Scholars Program, the Forté Fellows Program, the Reaching Out LGBTQ MBA Fellowship, and the National Black MBA Association Graduate Scholarship Program.
As a final note, several donors require evidence of future career plans that align with their foundation’s mission. For example, this evidence might include transcripts indicating preparatory coursework consistent with licensure requirements, such as the CPA examination. In our guide below, we’ve included examples from industries that include public accounting, public finance, and commercial real estate.
Full-Ride MBA Scholarships for Specific Schools
- Amount: Up to full resident tuition of $59,794 per year
- Deadline: Same as admissions deadline
- Who Should Apply: Arizona State University MBA candidates
- About the Donor: All accepted full-time ASU MBA students can apply for this full scholarship covering their total tuition, regardless of their financial situation. At Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business, they believe that scholarships are much more than just money for school. Scholarships are an investment in students, in their dreams, and their shared future.
- Amount: Full-time in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees for the credits required in the MBA degree program
- Deadline: December 2021 (estimated)
- Who Should Apply: University of Florida Full-Time MBA Applicants
- About the Donor: All accepted full-time University of Florida MBA students can apply for this scholarship, which covers full tuition for classes through the Warrington College of Business. The full-tuition scholarships will be awarded to competitive, admitted candidates for all three full-time programs. These scholarships will cover the number of credits required for the degree and will only be applied towards MBA courses, those offered through the Warrington College of Business.
Other MBA Scholarships for Specific Schools
- Amount: Up to full annual tuition with additional awards potentially reimbursing annual costs
- Deadline: Same as admissions deadline
- Who Should Apply: University of Chicago MBA candidates
- About the Donor: The University of Chicago provides a broad range of merit scholarships and fellowships for incoming MBA students, including the Chicago Booth Fellowship along with several corporate-sponsored fellowships. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks this program #3 among business schools in a tie with Northwestern University.
- Amount: Annually up to $10,000 plus in-state tuition adjustments for non-Texas residents
- Deadline: Same as admissions deadline which is June 1, 2021, for domestic applicants and April 1, 2021, for international students
- Who Should Apply: University of Houston MBA candidates
- About the Donor: The University of Houston also provides a number of scholarships for incoming MBA students, including scholarships donated by at least twelve foundations and corporate subsidiaries within Texas. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks this program #95 in the United States among business schools.
MBA Scholarships for Specific Career Paths
- Amount: Varies (Different scholarships have different amounts); For example, the government finance professional development scholarship offer four $10,000 awards
- Deadline: Applications are now open through January 4th, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Those planning to pursue careers in state/provincial or local government finance; some scholarships require employment for least two years by one or more state or local governments or minority status
- About the Donor: The Government Finance Officers Association funds five scholarships annually, comprising nine awards for graduate students in accounting, finance, economics, or business administration interested in government or nonprofit management. The purpose is to recognize outstanding performance by students preparing for careers in state and local government finance.
- Amount: $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000
- Deadline: February 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Candidates must have declared majors or minors in accounting, business administration, or finance, and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- About the Donor: This scholarship was named after two members of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Larry Jennings, and Tracy Ritchie. These two were among the 5 people who were fatally wounded when terrorists in Karachi fired upon the vehicle there were traveling in. They were en route to Union Texas’ Karachi office. These awards from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners target students who may become certified fraud examiners (CFEs), and who have previously declared majors or minors in accounting, business administration, or finance. The scholarship provides an opportunity for students to advance their education as well as anti-fraud career paths. Many award winners continue to become certified fraud examiners.
- Amount: $5,000
- Deadline: March 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Students who have obtained liberal art or another non-business undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States, intend to pursue the CPA licensure, and who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- About the Donor: These awards from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants provide financial assistance to liberal arts and non-business degree holders who are pursuing graduate studies in accounting and the CPA licensure. These scholarships are intended to encourage students with little or no previous accounting education to consider professional accounting careers.
- Amount: $10,000 toward tuition, fees, books, and supplies
- Deadline: Applications are now closed and will reopen in January 2021
- Who Should Apply: Those with shopping center industry experience, community activism activities, at least 3.0 GPAs, and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
- About the Donor: The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Foundation annually awards two $10,000 Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. Graduate Scholarships. An ideal candidate is a graduate student and ICSC member enrolled in the upcoming fall academic term at an accredited university. Applicants with at least 3.0 GPAs who are full-time students will be considered. Candidates must demonstrate a record of dedication to and participation in the industry, a commitment to the community, and financial need.
MBA Scholarships for Academic Honor Society Members
- Amount: 50 Fellowships of $8,500 each, six at $20,000 each, and two at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Seventy-five $1,000 grants are awarded each year. It also awards several more awards.
- Deadline: March 2021, for Study Abroad Grants. April 15, 2021, for Fellowships.
- Who Should Apply: Phi Kappa Phi members
- About the Donor: Established in 1897, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi was chartered to recognize and encourage superior scholarship broadly, without any specific area of study membership requirement. According to the Association of College Honor Societies, Phi Kappa Phi is the United States’ oldest all-discipline honor society and the third-oldest academic society organized to recognize academic achievement. Phi Kappa Phi’s ongoing commitment to recognizing scholarship is evident in its generous grants and awards programs. At a minimum, the society now awards a million dollars every 24 months to outstanding students, members, and chapters through the society’s scholarship competitions.
- Amount: $2,500
- Deadline: December 2021 (estimated)
- Who Should Apply: Any MBA candidate committed to future change can apply. Application requirements include a personal statement, one letter of recommendation, a current resume, a current and comprehensive academic transcript, and a completed program questionnaire within the online application.
- About the Donor: Founded in 1977, Golden Key has rapidly become one of the largest international collegiate honor societies, now with more than 400 chapters worldwide. Membership is based solely on academic achievements, by invitation only, and offered to the top 15 percent of college and university upperclassmen and graduate students in all fields of study. Although the society offers other awards available to MBA candidates, criteria for this particular scholarship involve the reasons why the student wants to continue their education, their future academic, and career goals, and how the student feels they can truly create change in the future.
MBA Scholarships for Women
- Amount: Up to 50 percent of the tuition fees
- Deadline: To start the scholarship application, women candidates must log in to the admissions portal and access the scholarship information section for more details about the deadline
- Who Should Apply: Women of all backgrounds and nationalities. Candidates who demonstrate financial need will be given preference. Also, a financing plan is required.
- About the Donor: ESADE helps deserving candidates take up their MBA program with the help of scholarships. The scholarships are available to women who can bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the program. Recipients of the scholarship are expected to contribute to the ESADE Women in Business Club during their time in the program.
- Amount: $10,000
- Deadline: Varies depending on the university
- Who Should Apply: Women applicants and students at these United States and global universities
- About the Donor:The Committee of 200 awards outstanding MBA students scholarships along with unique learning and networking opportunities through their C200 Scholar Network. This donor also hosts panels and roundtable discussions at key universities to inspire ambitious, business-minded women.
- Amount: Contact an admissions representative to know more about the amount
- Deadline: Same as school admissions deadline
- Who Should Apply: Women applicants and students at these sponsoring United States and global universities
- About the Donor: The Forté Foundation provides prestigious, exclusive fellowships to women studying for full-time, part-time, or executive MBAs at roughly 50 of the best business schools across North America and Europe. Forté intends to boost the number of women enrolling in MBA programs.
- Amount: Varies according to the scholarship. For example, the “IE Woman Scholarship” awards up to 25 percent of tuition fees, while the “IE-FORTÉ MBA Fellowship” awards €10,000 to €20,000 towards tuition and fees
- Deadline: Contact foundation for deadline specifics
- Who Should Apply: Open to female candidates
- About the Donor: For encouraging women to continue on their path towards excellence, the IE Foundation, on behalf of its donors and IE Community, has an annual budget dedicated exclusively to women. Their goal is to provide talented and driven women with the financial resources required to accomplish their academic and professional objectives. A number of scholarships are awarded to women who have a track record of exceptionally professional and personal achievement and who want to study at IE.
- Amount: Varies
- Deadline: Scholarships do not require an additional application. If admitted, students will be evaluated for available scholarships
- Who Should Apply: Female students studying at or intending to study at the Darden School of Business
- About the Donor: Darden School of Business strives to be among the world’s most accessible business schools. It offers scholarships for talented students from all parts of the globe creating a diverse and inclusive community that is critical to the School’s mission. The Darden School of Business is committed to creating an ecosystem in which women thrive. By awarding scholarships to women, it not only celebrates the next generation of female leaders but also creates a richer learning experience.
- Amount: $8,000 to $25,000. Depends upon the scholarship selected
- Deadline: Every scholarship has its own application deadline. For example, the ‘INSEAD MBA’68 Scholarship for Women’ has a deadline of March 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: These scholarships are only for women. However, there are additional eligibility requirements for each scholarship. The ‘INSEAD Groupe Galeries Lafayette Endowed Scholarship for Women’ welcomes women candidates who have been admitted to the INSEAD MBA program who identify with the goals and ambitions of Groupe Galeries Lafayette
- About the Donor: The INSEAD MBA scholarships for women seeks to empower women professionals to pursue a world-class MBA and increase the number of women representation in management roles. As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD offers participants a truly global educational experience.
- Amount: 32 scholarships of $2,000 each at the district or region level and six international scholarships of $8,000 each.
- Deadline: Applications for the 2021 scholarship will be posted in January
- Who Should Apply: Women whose MBA programs or residences fall within a geographic area served by a local Zonta International chapter.
- About the Donor: To encourage more women to pursue education and careers in business, Zonta International established the Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. The organization offers six international scholarships of $8,000 each. Women of any age who demonstrate outstanding potential and whose MBA programs or residences fall within a geographic area served by a local Zonta International chapter may be eligible.
- Amount: $10,000 award for Undergraduate Students and $15,000 award for Graduate Students
- Deadline: March 21, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Women attending a San Francisco Bay Area university and preparing for careers in finance or accounting
- About the Donor: The purpose of the financial leadership scholarships is to provide opportunities to advance in finance for Bay Area women. Every year, the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco (FWSF) offers awards to graduate and undergraduate students preparing for careers in finance at accredited colleges or universities located within the nine Bay Area counties. Selection criteria depend on leadership skills, academic achievements, work experience, extracurricular activities, communication skills, and financial need. Beyond financial support, FWSF recipients receive mentoring from FWSF members and access to career development and networking events. As of 2020, FWSF had awarded more than $2.6 million in scholarship funds over 30 years to more than 300 Bay Area women
- Amount: CHF 25,000
- Deadline: September 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Preference is given to women from developing countries. Applicants are required to submit a 750-word essay on: “Many have argued that greater diversity in the top management team of an organization is good for profits and customers. What would you recommend as ways to achieve greater diversity?”. Employees of Nestle or its subsidiaries are not eligible for this scholarship.
- About the Donor: International Institute for Management Development (IMD) develops leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society. IMD Scholarships aims to encourage achievers all around the world, who may not have the financial resources to apply for an MBA, but do have the drive, potential, and zeal required.
- Amount: Up to $12,500
- Deadline: December 2021 (estimated)
- Who Should Apply: Women from other countries pursuing graduate study programs in the United States and Canada. A student who is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada is not eligible
- About the Donor: Established in 1949, the International Peace Scholarship Fund provides scholarship opportunities to women from other countries for graduate study in Canada or the United States. This scholarship does not cover all personal or academic expenses and is not limited to any specific field of study and the funds can be utilized by international MBA students as well.
- Amount: $5,000 to $18,000
- Deadline: December 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: This scholarship is for women applicants pursuing full-time study in a master’s or professional degree program in which women are underrepresented, including STEM, law, business, and medicine. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
- About the Donor: For over 130 years, The American Association of University Women has funded the educations of countless women so they could follow their dreams. Overall, this association has given more than $115 million to over 13,000 women and nonprofit organizations around the world. These selected professions fellowships were initiated in 1970 with a $25,000 grant from the Max C. Fleischmann Foundation. Fellowships in the Master’s in a business administration degree program is restricted to women of color who have been underrepresented in this field of study. Applicants may apply for the second year of study only.
MBA Scholarships for Other Underrepresented Groups
- Amount: $20,000
- Deadline: Varies depending on partner business school
- Who Should Apply: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates
- About the Donor: The Reaching Out MBA Fellowship focuses on educating, inspiring, and connecting the student and alumni lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender MBA & graduate communities in an ongoing effort to create the next generation of business leaders. As of the 2020 application cycle, 60 business schools across North America were participating. Please note that the schools themselves are responsible for nominating fellows.
- Amount: Varies depending on the partner business school. Up to approximately $100,000
- Deadline: Varies depending on the partner business school
- Who Should Apply: Students of color
- About the Donor: The National Black MBA Association offers several scholarships to deserving MBA students of color through various university partners. Almost all partners appear to be nationally-ranked business schools. They include Emory University, Arizona State, Ohio State, the University of Florida, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Alabama. The largest awards students can earn appear to be for full tuition at the University of Florida and up to $100,000 at Georgia Tech and Bentley University. Scholarship winners also receive airfare and accommodations for NBMBAA’s Annual Conference.
- Amount: $5,000
- Deadline: January 5, 2021
- Who Should Apply: African American/Black students at UNCF member schools (Thirty-seven historically black colleges and universities belong to the UNCF network of member institutions) enrolled during the 2020-2021 academic year. They must be enrolled full time as a junior majoring in economics, finance, business, computer science, accounting, data science, history, psychology, or political science
- About the Donor: UNCF has helped more than 500k students earn their college degrees since its founding. It is the nation’s largest private scholarship provider to minority group members. Every year, it awards more than $100 million in scholarships to students attending more than 1,100 schools across the country. The Wellington Management Foundation Scholarship is just one of the many scholarships offered by UNCF. There are dozens of other fellowships, internships, and faculty development opportunities that have their own eligibility criteria, application requirements, and deadlines.
- Amount: Varies depending on the University. Up to approximately $2,000
- Deadline: New applications for the 2021-22 academic year will be accepted in January 2021
- Who Should Apply: LGBTQ students who attend San Francisco State University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California, San Francisco, or the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Graduate and undergraduate students may apply. Recipients must demonstrate promise for becoming a positive role model for other LGBTQ people
- About the Donor: Tom Markowski and Jim Leach were a gay couple who lived in San Francisco. This scholarship was established as a result of their vision. In the early 1980s, as the AIDS crisis spread, they had a mutual desire to provide financial assistance to LGBTQ people trying to further their education. They both passed away as a result of HIV. since 1991, this fund has awarded 363 scholarships.
- Amount: Basic cost of tuition
- Deadline: The application period started on Friday, January 1, 2021
- Who Should Apply: LGBTQ graduating high school seniors who are United States citizens
- About the Donor: At present, the LEAGUE Foundation has five award categories for consideration and each student application is automatically reviewed for each. The awards are ‘The Laurel Hester Memorial Scholarship’, ‘The Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship’, ‘The Tyler Clementi Memorial Scholarship’, ‘The LEAGUE DFW Chapter Scholarship’, and ‘The LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship’. The Laurel Hester and Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarships are the LEAGUE Foundation’s highest awards. Since its establishment in 1996, the LEAGUE Foundation has awarded 144 college scholarships totaling $317,500 to self-identified LGBTQ and graduating US high school students.
- Amount: $10,000 for United States students or $5,000 for Canada students
- Deadline: February 14, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Students with any disability
- About the Donor: Equity Through Education (ETE) is a charitable initiative aimed at creating a more diverse workplace. It offers support to help people realize their educational ambitions by giving them opportunities they might not otherwise receive. On one day each year, all North American institutional equity trading commissions are donated to organizations dedicated to the education of bright and deserving individuals. To date, ETE has raised C$26 million (US$24 million). This funding assisted over 5,000 students through scholarships, fellowships, and job search strategy forums. Lime Connect had originally been selected as an Equity Through Education partner in 2011.
- Amount: $1,000 to $2,500 per award (two scholarships annually)
- Deadline: March 31, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Gay men who are under 35 years of age, have completed high school (or GED) by June of the current year, and are U.S. citizens
- About the Donor: The Gamma Mu Foundation was created for providing financial support to non-profit organizations that serve communities and clients primarily in the rural or underserved areas of the United States. It awards financial grants for supporting HIV/AIDS services, community services, or research and public education benefiting the LGBT community. It also awards academic scholarships to members of the LGBT community demonstrating financial need and desire. The Gamma Mu Scholarships Program provides support to gay men who want to further their education at a university, college, or professional or vocational training program.
- Amount: $2,000 to $5,000
- Deadline: April 2021
- Who Should Apply: Candidates of Hispanic heritage accepted by an accredited program with a 3.0 GPA (or a 2.75 in combination with two years of full-time work experience) who are U.S. citizens
- About the Donor: Prospanica (formerly the National Society of Hispanic MBAs) was created to nourish Hispanic leadership through professional development and graduate management studies. Prospanica helps prepare Hispanics for leadership roles throughout the U.S. to provide sensitivity and cultural awareness in management positions. Prospanica Foundation’s Scholarships are designed for undergraduate and graduate students who want to achieve their full educational potential and make meaningful contributions to society.
- Amount: $15,000, renewable up to $60,000
- Deadline: April 2021
- Who Should Apply: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates who are Asian/Pacific Islanders (at least 25 percent ancestry); graduates from a high school in one of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties; between the ages of 17 and 25; involved in the LGBT community; and U.S. citizens or permanent residents
- About the Donor: Mr. Edward Cheng Ming Tang established this award in 2007 to provide financial assistance to LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) for higher education. This foundation aims to help LGBT youth proudly achieve educational pursuits and dreams without shame. The Tang Foundation annually awards one outstanding student a scholarship up to $15,000.
- Amount: $2,000 to $4,800
- Deadline: May 4, 2021
- Who Should Apply: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates
- About the Donor: The Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students of merit. Point Scholars agree to maintain a high level of academic performance and to give back to the LGBT community through the completion of an individual community service project each year. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled or intending to enroll at an accredited community college based in the United States, must have one to two years of community college left, and intending to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university.
- Amount: There are three categories in which the recipients are selected (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). They receive a one-time grant to fund their college education or to fund a community service effort that tackles a social issue
- Deadline: December 2021 (estimated)
- Who Should Apply: Hispanic heritage students currently enrolled in high school having a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0.
- About the Donor: Established in 1987, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit that identifies, inspires, prepares, and positions Latino leaders in the community, workforce, and classroom for meeting America’s priorities. Founded in 1998 by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Youth Awards honors Latino high school seniors excelling in the community and classroom and for their excellence in various categories including engineering, business and finance, entrepreneurship, healthcare and science, education, media and entertainment, technology, and social justice.
MBA Scholarships from Innovative Foundation and Corporate Benefactors
- Amount: In 2021, the Taco Bell Foundation will be awarding $7 million in Live Más Scholarships
- Deadline: January 20, 2021
- Who Should Apply: “Innovators, creators and dreamers” who need support to pursue their passion through higher education
- About the Donor: Introduced in late 2015, the Taco Bell Foundation’s innovative new Live Más Scholarship helps students—including MBA candidates—carry out plans intended to benefit their local or global community by following their passions. In other words, the program attracts inspired students, primarily through age 24, with compelling missions to pursue unique higher education and career passions that may not necessarily fit into conventional “academic” scholarship categories. Besides financial support, the foundation also offers mentoring opportunities; for example, recipients have interned with Taco Bell’s corporate social media and marketing teams over the last two years.
Additional Resources for MBA Scholarships
Below appear key resources used in the preparation of this guide that contain references to additional scholarships.
- Scholarship Connection Database (University of California, Berkeley)
- U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident External Scholarships (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)