It’s no secret that employer sponsorship of Executive MBA Programs has shifted over the last decade. While sponsorship to an MBA Program used to be commonplace, more EMBA students are self-funding their way than ever before; industry-wide, 39.8% of incoming EMBA students were self-funded in 2014.
However, there is still reason to believe that you can successfully petition your company for help with financing your MBA. For the last three years, incoming students at Chicago Booth who receive financial assistance from their companies has hovered around 38-39% of the global class (2014: 38%, 2015: 38%, 2016: 39%). We reached out to several students to get their take on how they created a successful path towards entering a sponsorship agreement with their companies. We heard a range of tactics and strategies now captured in our corporate sponsorship guide for prospective students and applicants. However, one piece of advice stood out; a student encouraged others to “build your case for the MBA around the culture of your company so there is a shared motivation for it.” This requires a clear assessment of what your company cares most about, and how your studies can have an impact. Read below for a few examples of how our students characterized this with their companies:
One student made the case for an MBA after assuming a new leadership role supervising over 125 people in the research and development department of his company. Although he had 14 years of experience, his background was primarily a scientific one. Now he was responsible for a large number of personnel and his CFO expected him to have a thorough understanding of the financials. In the business case he developed, he argued that an MBA would provide him with the training and practice he needed to effectively lead his new team. Chicago Booth could also provide him with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of business—financial accounting, statistics, and microeconomics—to make sound financial decisions on behalf of his department. He was able to secure financial support from the company after agreeing that he would stay in his role for at least two years. He also had to maintain a specific GPA in order to maintain sponsorship.
Succession planning is another reason why many students receive sponsorship from their employers; it’s good business to retain high-potential talent for years to come. One Executive MBA student applied for the program after being singled out for a leadership track within her company. She used the job description for her next role—one that she was a few years away from attaining—to write her business case. In this way, she was able to make specific correlations between studying for an MBA and creating future value for the company.
For a different student, it was the number of elective choices available at Chicago Booth that he focused his case around. In the Executive MBA Program, students do not have to bid on electives— they can register from a wide array of elective courses which take place over two consecutive weeks in Chicago. He believed his employer would appreciate Chicago Booth’s focus on innovation and the ability students have to specialize in one of six areas of study.
Constructing an organized, savvy business case outlining the benefits of doing an Executive MBA Program to your employer has helped many of our students secure time and financial support from their companies. We hope this guidance will help you do the same, and we wish you the best of luck in your process. If you'd like to speak to our admissions team about employer support, please reach out to us for advice or assistance.