MBA schools offer various scholarships for their students. Candidates must meet certain conditions, the most common being good GMAT scores and excellent academic results and/or career achievements.

Explore scholarship opportunities at top schools.

Different types of scholarships

Scholarships can be full or partial. A full scholarship covers the whole university tuition fee but not usually the living expenses. Cranfield School of Management (UK) offers 50 scholarships to full-time MBA students who start their studies in September 2016. The selection criteria for the scholarships will be based on the strength of the application and the interviewer's report - an assessment of the applicant's communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and/or entrepreneurial potential as well as his/her anticipated contribution.

Extending scholarships for the second or third year (in the case of part-time MBA students) is also conditional in most cases. It is possible to receive a deferred scholarship for the second year of study, again on the basis of good academic performance.

Some scholarships are based on the merits of the candidates, while others are based on their needs. In 2016, the London Business School (LBS) had many different scholarships, some of them open to all applicants, the suitability being determined according to academic and professional merits. Then, there are the scholarships specifically targeted at women, professionals from certain sectors, the ones based on nationality/residence, and external scholarships.

MBA scholarships may come from the school itself, from the government or occasionally from a corporation or international organisation. In 2015, 23 % of MBA students at INSEAD (France) received scholarships from the school, ranging from EUR 8,000 to EUR 35,000. The school's awards are either need-based or based on merit, nationality, gender, background, field of previous studies, etc. For example, the INSEAD Alumni Fund (IAF) Diversity Scholarship - '68 targets students from socially, economically, and/or politically challenged countries, whose work has an impact on their communities. NGOs and non-profit organisations can also be a source of funding.

Scholarships are also available to minorities or on a gender basis. The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management offers MBA fellowships to African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans in the US. If you belong to an under-represented minority group, you should find out if you are eligible for scholarships from various sources. The Forte Foundation awards scholarships to female MBA students. The organisation aims to “increase the number of women applying to and enrolling in MBA courses.”

Receiving a scholarship requires candidates to start preparing early and to prove in the application they are serious about their career prospects and future. A prestigious scholarship not only helps you to sustain yourself during your studies; it represents an important testimony to your ambition, dedication and progress in academia and business. Including it on your CV is highly beneficial in presenting yourself to potential employers and partners.

Competition for scholarships

The key factor which candidates must keep in mind if they decide to apply for a scholarship is that good preparation takes time. The process has to start earlier than the usual student application. If you want to start your studies in September/October, you should start searching for scholarships one year earlier at the latest. The best strategy is to apply to a large number of institutions and diversify your choice of schools. It is advisable to apply to schools that are suitable for you, to a few top-ranking schools to which it may be hard to gain admission, and to some where you are sure that you can be admitted and receive a scholarship.

There is tremendous competition for full scholarships. One of the main factors which schools take into account when deciding who gets the biggest award is the candidate's GMAT score. Whether or not this is an adequate method for determining the quality of the applicant, the fact remains that it is vital to your success and you should take enough time to prepare for it. If you are working or studying full or part-time, it may be advisable to start your preparations a year ahead of the GMAT test date. If you have more time on your hands, you may begin later. The same time frame applies to language tests for non-native speakers: IELTS, TOEFL, etc. Go to the websites of the business schools to find out their minimum required test score. This varies between different institutions. Usually, the entry requirements are the same as the scholarship requirements and all students admitted can be considered for financial awards.

Another decisive factor determining the final result of a scholarship application is the consistency of your career plans and achievements so far. If you have a clear goal and something in your past to prove that you have taken steps towards it, this shows the relevant committee that you are motivated and self-aware. For example, a degree in finance and some years of work experience in a bank would make your case h4er by demonstrating that you, as a candidate, are knowledgeable and skilled in the area of your professional choice.

Read the school’s scholarship criteria carefully. It is important to fulfil all the requirements and to have something to offer in addition. Make sure that you explain why you deserve the scholarship as specifically as possible in your motivation letter. Candidates should describe how their profile matches each of the requirements. The application is more likely to be successful if the cover letter and essay are checked by education consultants. However, be careful whom you trust in this respect. If letters of recommendation are needed, candidates should ask people who know them well to write them. Be realistic about referees. Do not aim higher than appropriate. A Member of Parliament who spoke to you once at a cocktail party is likely to give you a superficial recommendation that would make it obvious how little he or she knows you. A university professor or your employer or supervisor, who are familiar with your qualities and your work, will do perfectly. Most of those who receive recommendations have years of experience in reading and assessing them and applicants should avoid cheating.