Creating a Business Case for the MBA


When you enrol on an MBA, you’ll spend rather a lot of time with cases reading cases, discussing cases, packing (suit) cases. However there is an important case you may wish to prepare before you start a programme a business case for your employer, forming a persuasive argument for company support of your MBA.

Before you get started, it’s useful to ask yourself some questions.

What are your reasons for choosing the Chicago Booth Executive MBA? Why is this school and programme a better choice (for you) than others on the market?

Will this programme help meet a specific need at the company (can a business challenge or issue be addressed by the content of the course)?

Does this programme fit in with my career development plan at the company? Does it address a need that has been identified in a performance review?

Is there a precedent for MBA support at the company? What level of support has been given in the past? Is there an in-house company training programme I need to compare the MBA against?

What am I prepared to commit to the company (ie, lock in periods, bonus or salary sacrifice, tuition refund in the event I leave)?

What do I want the company to commit?(be specific about funding and time off).

Who will make a decision on my request? This question will help you develop the right level of content for your case.

The important thing to remember is that your case, at least in the first two sections, should not focus on your needs. The case is an opportunity to highlight business needs that can be met by the Executive MBA, to outline the ROI and to create a persuasive recommendation that your company should provide support accordingly.

Like any other business case, your case should include sections on:

1. Identify Business Need (specific, current business challenges or needs faced by the company)

2. Analysis (ie, how the programme will help the company meet these specific needs. Think about the ROI from your company’s point of view, of the additional benefits the company gets from accessing the school network, intellectual capital, etc)

3. Recommendation (of yourself, as a suitable candidate. This section should focus on your commitment to the company, your dedication to meeting business needs and challenges, and your desire to take on further roles and responsibilities).

4. The Request (with specific details of the financial support and/or time support you require. You should also demonstrate the investment that you are prepared to make, via your own financial contribution, by sacrificing holiday time, by working overtime or by being available outside office hours).

5. Appendices (your audience may know very little about the school and programme, so include as much supplementary information as possible. It may also be useful to include specific info, for example, research articles or school press clippings relevant to your industry or company).

Good luck! We’re here to help, so please let us know if you need a hand.

Rachel Waites