Guide to MBA Scholarships for 2020 - By Business School & Demographics
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.
Not surprisingly, this chart from U.S. News & World Report demonstrates how many MBA students end up borrowing substantial sums to pay for their degrees. In fact, MBA students in the class of 2016 racked up $262 million in debt just at the top ten schools. In all, 14 schools in the top 50 have seen their average student debt burden rise to six figures, up from only two in 2011; they range from $130,446 at the University of Pennsylvania to $101,667 at Carnegie Mellon.
Nevertheless, financing higher education with loans involves challenges. Student loan balances have jumped nearly 150 percent in a decade by $833 billion, to reach an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to a recent report by Experian. The average outstanding balance is now $34,144, up 62 percent in only the past ten years. Also, the proportion of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more tripled over the same interval, with the average number of loans now at 3.7 per person, up from 2.4 in 2007.
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 out-of-state tuition of $46,176 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. Notably, U.S. News & World Report currently ranks this program #29 among U.S. business schools in a tie with the University of Minnesota.
- Amount: Up to full out-of-state tuition of $30,130 per year
- Deadline: Date for 2020 not yet mentioned. It was December 1 in 2019.
- Who Should Apply: University of Florida Full-Time MBA Applicants
- About the Donor: All accepted full-time UF MBA students can apply for this scholarship, which covers full tuition for classes through the Warrington College of Business. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks this program #34 among U.S. business schools.
Other MBA Scholarships for Specific Schools
- Amount: Up to full annual tuition of $69,200, with additional awards potentially reimbursing annual costs up to $103,759
- 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 #1 among business schools in a tie with Harvard 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, 2020 for domestic applicants and April 1, 2020 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 #85 in the United States among business schools.
MBA Scholarships for Specific Career Paths
- Amount: $5,000 to $15,000
- Deadline: January 18, 2020
- 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: January 30, 2020
- 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: 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 on to become certified fraud examiners.
- Amount: $5,000
- Deadline: March 1, 2020
- Who Should Apply: Students who have completed the GMAT, 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: March 6, 2020
- 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, 6 at $20,000 each, and 2 at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Seventy-five $1,000 grants are awarded each year.
- Deadline: March 15, 2020 for Study Abroad Grants. April 15, 2020 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 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. To members entering graduate or professional study, Phi Kappa Phi currently awards 50 Fellowships of $8,500 each, 6 at $20,000 each, and 2 at $35,000 each.
- Amount: $10,000
- Deadline: June 23, 2020
- 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 involves 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: The application process for scholarships opens in October
- Who Should Apply: Women of all backgrounds and nationalities. Candidates who demonstrate financial need will be given preference. Also, 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: $40,000
- Deadline: Same as school admissions deadline
- Who Should Apply: Women applicants to 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: $10,000 award for Undergraduate Students and $15,000 award for Graduate Students
- Deadline: March 22, 2020
- 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 2018, FWSF had awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarship funds over 30 years to more than 300 Bay Area women.
- Amount: 32 scholarships of $2,000 each at the district or region level and six international scholarships in the amount of $8,000 each.
- Deadline: April or May 2020 (contact local Zonta clubs for their deadlines)
- 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: CHF 25,000
- Deadline: September 1, 2020
- 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.
MBA Scholarships for Other Underrepresented Groups
- Amount: $10,000 to $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 2015-16 application cycle, 28 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 deserving MBA students of color 28 scholarships through 22 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 equivalent to $58,500 per year at Georgetown University and up to $100,000 for a complete two-year fellowship at Georgia Tech. Also, General Electric and John Deere provide corporate fellowships. Scholarship winners also receive airfare and accommodations for NBMBAA’s Annual Conference.
- Amount: $13,000 to $34,000
- Deadline: January 27, 2020
- 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.
- Amount: $2,000 to $5,000
- Deadline: Preliminary round (April 20, 2020), second round (June 11, 2020)
- Who Should Apply: Candidates of Hispanic heritage accepted by an AACSB-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: With 8,000 members and 32 chapters in both Puerto Rico and the United States, 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.
- Amount: $15,000, renewable up to $60,000
- Deadline: April 2020
- 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: $10,000 for United States students
- Deadline: 2020 deadline not yet out
- 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 $15.7 million. This funding assisted over 3,000 students through scholarships, fellowships, and job search strategy forums. Lime Connect had originally been selected as an Equity Through Education partner in 2011.
MBA Scholarships from Innovative Foundation and Corporate Benefactors
- Amount: $2,500 to $25,000
- Deadline: January 23, 2020
- 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. In 2017, 170 recipients received scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 totaling $1.5 million. In 2020, the Foundation will award $6 million. 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)