Strong job prospects for MBA grads are encouraging a lot of workers to apply to business school. US News and World Reports stated in 2017 that Many of the 107 ranked business schools that responded to its survey reported that their MBA applications had risen between 2009 and 2016.
For top programs, the rise in applications was up to 27%, while other schools say an 11% increase.
Fortunately, many large companies and some smaller ones have fellowships and tuition reimbursement programs. To increase the odds of your company picking up some or all of your MBA tabs, keep the following factors at the top of your mind.
1. Research Company Reimbursement Policies
Before you talk to your boss, check the website of your employer and the employee handbook for information about tuition reimbursement or fellowship programs. Also, make sure that the reimbursement policies are still in place by touching base with your HR department if there is one.
Even if your organization does not feature an official reimbursement policy for MBA expenses, it is common for corporate America to pay for graduate education today to help employees to reach their potential.
Some of the major companies with tuition reimbursement programs for MBAs are:
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
There also is a strong incentive in the strong economy to help employees to pay for college tuition, so they can retain the best workers.
Remember that in exchange for the company paying for your MBA, you may need to stay with that organization for at least two or three years after you leave.
2. Talk to Coworkers
You can learn a lot from talking to other employees, as well as managers who are higher in the organization than you are.
It is essential to find out:
- How many members of upper or mid-level management has a master’s degree? If a lot of them do, this suggests your company appreciates the value of graduate business education.
- Does the company have the money to spend on employment education? The typical two-year MBA can cost $100,000 or more; this could be too large of a cost for some companies. You may need to consider a lower-tier or online MBA program to get your company to give the green light.
- Would advanced business school training bring benefits to the company?
Also, target people who have gotten promotions recently and see if they received tuition reimbursement for their graduate degree.
It will benefit you to find a few people in the company who have received tuition reimbursement. This will give you a stronger business case when you sit down with your supervisor.
3. Talk to Your Boss
Just as you would when getting ready for an important business meeting, it is crucial to devise a definite game plan before speaking with your boss. In your meeting, you should explain how getting your MBA will help the company as well as help you.
Also, be prepared to explain why now is an excellent time to attend business school.
Ask for feedback from your supervisor about where you will be in the organization in the next few years and the skills that you will need to add to reach your potential there.
Talk about the common ground you both have about your developmental goals in your career. This may lead to a fruitful discussion about the degree to which your company values workers with an MBA.
You also will want to be ready to talk specifics about the MBA program:
- What it costs, reputation and how long it lasts. MBA programs can range from $15,000 for the lower tier, online MBAs to more than $100,000 for top programs. Some MBA programs can be completed in two or three years part-time while others may take longer. An online MBA may offer you more options for continuing to work on a full-time
- Curriculum and focus. There are many concentrations in many MBA programs. Depending on your industry and job description, it might be smart to get an MBA in various specialities: finance, accounting, healthcare or operations management. You should try to tie the MBA concentration to the company’s current business concerns. If it has concerns with imports and exports, the company might want to pay for an MBA with a focus on supply chain management and international business.
- Note your strong work performance. As you are talking about your MBA proposal, focus on the positive and concrete ways that you are affecting your organization. Remember that you are talking to your boss like you are asking for a raise. An MBA is expensive, so you need to prove that you have demonstrated past value as an employee. Note the measurable results of the work you have done regarding sales or how you have saved money.
- Why your company should pay for it. Stress the skills that you are going to pick up that can increase the bottom line of your organization. If you are getting an MBA in project management, you can discuss how a better grasp of relevant project management skills and tools will result in more efficient company projects. Remember to focus your arguments on how obtaining your MBA will solve some of the company’s pressing problems.
Is it smart to ask your company to fund your MBA education?
Usually, yes: If your company picks up the tab, you can avoid much of the debt that accompanies graduate education for many workers. MBA programs can be costly, and loan interest rates can add up to a lot of cash over the years.
If you are new at the company or just out of school, you may want to play the long game: Join the company and develop skills and accomplishments for the first one or two years. Then you can request an MBA sponsorship after a few years have passed.
Also, as you do your MBA program research, there are numerous quality programs now available with no GMAT requirement. Not needing to take this standardized test to be admitted to an MBA school can save you a lot of time and expense.
If your company is paying for your MBA, remember it will probably insist that you sign a contract. These typically demand that you promise to stay at the organization for a specified period.
Others will want you to have at least a 3.0 or similar GPA during your MBA program. Be sure that you understand this, and are willing to give ground in these areas.
Remember that your passion matters! Show absolute commitment to giving back to the firm everything that it invests in you.
Do that, and you should be able to get your organization to pay for your education if you have the work experience and demonstrable results to back it up.