August Academy's MBA Admissions Blog

A quick guide to getting an MBA scholarship

Let’s face it – most of us don’t want to shell out close to $150,000 to pursue an MBA at a top business school.  This is a large sum for anyone, and especially for someone at an early stage of their career.  Speaking strictly in financial terms (we would like to note, however, that we believe that an education shouldn’t be measured strictly in financial terms), questions of ROI – Return on Investment pop up.  Will the salary bump that an MBA brings about justify its cost?  In addition to tuition and living, there is also the opportunity cost associated with not being in the workforce for two years.  Business schools understand this and try to make the process easier for some of their best candidates. And this is why they offer MBA scholarships.  But the question remains – how do you get selected for an MBA scholarship?

How do you apply for an MBA scholarship?

The answer is actually quite simple – mba scholarships in the US are typically merit-based and not need-based.  Unlike in Europe, in the US, schools consider all applicants for possible scholarship awards and there is no separate application process for scholarships.  In order to be selected for an mba scholarship, you simply need to be one of the strongest candidates in their application pool.

College applications and Major League Baseball

So the question remains – how do you ensure that you come across as one of the strongest candidates in the applicant pool. Preparing a strong application is key.  It is equally important to realize that college applications are quite similar to getting into a Major League Baseball team.

Every player has a certain ability level.  At every ability level, there is a team that considers itself so strong that it doesn’t look twice at that player – these could be some of the top teams like the New York Yankees.  Then there could be a few teams where he/she would be considered an at par player – let’s say the Texas Rangers.  And finally, there could be a few teams lower down the rankings that would consider the same person a superstar.

Most people would want to play in the best team that they can get into – so why would someone leave the Texas Rangers and play for a lower ranked team?  The answer – better pay.

In general, a team that considers you a superstar would be happy to pay more to keep you on its rolls.

So what does this mean for you – how do you ensure that you receive maximum scholarship dollars?

Getting an MBA scholarship works the same way.

For every candidate – there are a set of schools that they might not be able to get into.  This would be followed by a set of schools where they would just get in (given the strength of their profile based on objective and subjective metrics).  This would be followed by a set of schools that would love to take you in and offer you a fantastic scholarship.  Which schools are in the top league and which ones are relatively safe differ from candidate to candidate.

Someone who gets in Harvard easily (without a scholarship), might hear from Kellogg with a nearly full ride.  Someone who just about makes it to Kellogg would be rejected by Harvard but considered for a princely scholarship by Duke.  And so on.

So if you want to maximize your chances of getting scholarships – choose schools appropriately.

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