How Do I Find Scholarships for an Online MBA?

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So you’ve decided to get your Master’s in Business Administration, and you’re riding the trend of doing it online. Congrats! But the next obvious question you’ll need to answer is how you’re going to pay for it. You’re going to need those scholarships for an Online MBA. Although online MBAs potentially cost less than their on-campus counterparts, they still aren’t cheap. And, as your parents always told you, money doesn’t grow on trees.

That last cliché isn’t entirely accurate, by the way. U.S. dollar bills are made from 25% linen and 75% cotton, which does indeed grow on trees. But since printing your own money isn’t a sustainable funding strategy – given that it’s illegal and most business schools would frown on such an ethical lapse – you’re probably better off finding other ways to pay for your business degree.

degree ROI

What are Loans and Grants?

Speaking of which, let’s get some basic terms out of the way. When paying for schooling, there are loans, and there are grants, also known as scholarships. The big difference is that loans need to be paid back, whereas grants do not. When a school offers a financial aid package to a student, that aid will likely consist of both, so it’s vital that you know which is which. Also, if you took out student loans for an undergraduate degree, it’s important to know that there are no subsidized loans for graduate school. That means that if you take a student loan for an MBA program, instead of the government paying the interest, you’ll be accruing it yourself. 

Are There Inexpensive Online MBAs? 

That said, before you get neck-deep into the processes of searching and applying for loans and scholarships for an online MBA, a great way to reduce your overall education costs is to find online MBA programs that are less expensive overall. It sounds simple because the less your degree costs, the less you’ll need to pay for it. GetEducated has a directory of the least expensive AACSB-accredited online MBA programs in existence. If you’re interested in other kinds of accreditation, they have lists that correspond to different national, regional, or local accreditation agencies as well.

Opportunities that Foster Scholarships and Financial Aid

Employer Funding

Even if you’re in an inexpensive degree program, you still have to pay for it. The good news is, if you’re in the process of trying to start an online MBA program, you’ve probably got a job! U.S. News and World Report shows that 91% of online MBA students were already employed when they started their degree program. What’s more, 34% of students in the same group of respondents had their MBA program either fully or partially funded by their employer. 

Ask a manager or a rep from human resources if there is a tuition reimbursement program, and find out whether your desired MBA program would qualify. It’s not a sure thing, but it never hurts to ask. And, if it sounds too good, take heart – it can still be true. Larger companies are often willing to pay to educate and train their best employees because a more educated, credentialed workforce gives the company more options for expansion, and by extension, market domination.

Graduate School Scholarships

affordable school

After talking to folks at your job, it’s a good idea to check with the graduate school itself. Many business schools have dedicated slots for scholarships. Find out if there’s such an option at your school. If so, find out how to qualify.

Use Your Application to Impress Admissions Personnel

Then you must apply. So if you want to maximize your financial aid award package, focus on the application process. Whether it’s a cover letter, formal essay, a résumé, a letter of recommendation, or any other application requirement, take the necessary time to do a good job. In both graduate and undergraduate programs, admissions personnel are most motivated to find financial aid options for their top applicants.

Adequately Prepare for Entrance Exams

Speaking of the application, if your desired online MBA has a test score requirement, give yourself adequate time for test prep. Sometimes there are exclusive financial aid packages awarded to the highest-scoring applicants. There’s no one hard-and-fast rule, but increases in your GRE or GMAT scores can translate to more cash in hand for tuition dollars.

Affinity Groups

If you’re serious about finding scholarships for an online MBA, you owe it to yourself to look for relevant affinity groups that might offer scholarships. All kinds of student organizations, civic organizations, and trade groups advocate for different types of people. Depending on your racial or cultural background, gender, nationality, ability, or other identifying factors, you might already be eligible for certain scholarships. To be sure, you have to spend time looking for them.

Scholarship Directories

The final takeaway is to search scholarship directories. Notice the plural form “directories”… as in, more than one. Have you noticed that you get different general search results if you use Google for search compared to Bing or other search engines? Well, online MBA scholarships are similar. To leave no stone unturned, you must use several different search options and compare your results for each. Here are some recommendations:

And because the financial aid landscape continues to change in real-time, there are more tools out there! (Maybe even better ones than these.) Searching for various directories and conducting searches through different directories will undoubtedly take longer than focusing on just one search option. However, if you want to gather as many financial aid and scholarship opportunities as possible, you’ll need to be as persistent and thorough as possible. 

Action Plans


There is plenty of scholarship assistance out there for online MBA students. Take advantage of all the accessible resources and put in the necessary effort to help yourself pay for this incredible degree. To recap, here are actionable steps you can take in keeping costs down and receiving financial assistance:  

  • Find the least-expensive degree program
  • Look for money where you work
  • Check with the grad school
  • Focus on the application process
  • Give yourself time for test prep
  • Find relevant affinity groups
  • Search for and through multiple scholarship directories

If you follow this plan, the chances are good that you’ll find the money you need to enroll in your desired online MBA program. Best of luck to you!

Related Resources:

Cheapest Online MBA Programs
How Can I take Free Online MBA Courses?
Top Online MBA Programs

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