Making the Case for Employer Sponsorship

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admissions insights: employer sponsorship

Are you preparing to approach your employer about sponsoring your MBA? Kevin Paul, Assistant Director of Admissions for the Executive MBA Program in Hong Kong, offers advice and guidance to applicants in this Admissions Insights blog post.   

Despite a recent decline in company support for Executive MBA programs, it is still possible to make a successful business case to your employer for some level of financial sponsorship.  In fact, over half of our admitted students indicated that their employers were very receptive to their request for financial assistance.  Ultimately, 35% were offered some form of sponsorship in 2017.

Before you approach your company, you will want to create a thoughtful and well-researched plan.  An important part of your proposal is demonstrating how the company will benefit from offering you financial support.  It may help to think about this request in the same way as asking for a raise.  In both cases, you are showing your value as an employee and explaining to your company why the request makes good business sense. 

I always encourage prospective students and applicants to review our employer sponsorship guide, because it highlights some of the strategies many of our students have used to successfully secure sponsorship agreements.   

Below are a few examples of how you can frame the Executive MBA program as a way to help the company achieve its goals:

Ability to work on business issues

Throughout the program, students can bring their company’s problems or business issues to the classroom for discussion and input from other highly trained, intelligent business leaders.

Leadership development

At Chicago Booth, students cultivate a distinct and deeply personal leadership style through the LEAD Program, one of the first experiential leadership programs at a major business school.

A thorough grounding in business fundamentals

Many enter the Executive MBA Program from very senior positions in their company but have skill gaps. The MBA Program at Chicago Booth provides intensive training around the essential business foundations: financial accounting, statistics, and microeconomics.

Study of essential functions

Prepare for the C-suite by taking a deep dive into the functions that drive business. Classes on corporate finance, financial strategy, marketing management, pricing, and operations management provide a basis for high-level decision making.

While receiving sponsorship can be a great help, I would offer one word of caution.  If you are going to approach your company for support, you will most likely be asked to make a commitment to the company for a certain length of time.  Therefore, before you make the request, you do want to reflect on your personal goals for pursuing the degree and ask yourself if you are a prepared to make such a commitment.  In the end, if you are considering seeking financial support from your employer, the only way to know is to ask.  I worked with one applicant who initially told me she did not think her company would even entertain the idea of supporting her studies.  However, she approached her Human Resources department with a proposal and, to her surprise, they agreed to partial sponsorship. 

While there can be no guarantees about the outcome, I hope our corporate sponsorship guide will offer you some insight on how to make a successful case.  For some people, approaching your company for support can be an uncomfortable topic, and we’re here to help.  If you'd like to speak to our admissions team for additional information regarding employer support or any other part of the application process, please reach out to us for advice or assistance.