Guest Post: How to Get Your Employer to Pay for Your MBA

We’re publishing a long overdue guest post today from Erin Palmer, who works for US News University Directory. While we are not always a fan of taking on more debt and obligations to make a career change, if you are considering going back to school, there are some tangible tips in here. Enjoy!


So you’ve worked hard to earn your bachelor’s degree and you’re working your way up the company ladder, but you keep getting passed up for that big promotion. No matter what you do, someone always seems to have the advantage. If this sounds like you, then it may be time for you to consider earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

After some investigation, you know that getting an MBA can be expensive. If you don’t have the funds, you may consider a grant or scholarship to help you pay for your degree. Another option to consider is getting your employer to pay for your MBA. If this doesn’t sound easy to you, having a strategy will help your chances in getting your company to foot the bill and keep you from falling further into debt.

Will they pay?

Firstly, you’ll have to find out if your employer would even consider paying for your education. Many large companies have policies in place, so check your employee handbook. If you can’t find information on your own, check with your HR department, as they usually are the first to know about such programs. For smaller companies, you may have to go directly to your supervisor or the owner of the company. Before you do, make sure you’re ready and have your case clearly thought out ahead of time. If no policy is in place, your preparedness might be enough to set the trend in motion.

They’ll want to know your expectations for tuition. Are you asking for them to pay all of the tuition? Will you split it with them, or do you have outside sources (loans, scholarships, grants, etc.) that will cut down on the costs. If you do decide to split the costs, do the outside sources count toward your half, or are they deducted first with the balance then divided between each party. These details should be worked out prior to any arrangement or enrollment being made.

Know the company

A decision like funding education for an employee often comes down to timing and economic factors. Is now a good time to ask for assistance? If the company seems to be cutting down on expenses and is struggling during a troubled economy, the chances of your request being approved are slim. However, if the company seems to be growing and spending money toward their future, and if others before you have gotten similar requests approved, the scene may be set for a request.

Do your research and expect to answer questions

If you’re looking to work in top management at the executive level, a bachelor’s degree will most likely not be enough to get you there. According to a recent survey of top executives, 80% earned a graduate degree in business, which is important for those seeking top management positions.1 Having statistics like this to support your case will let your employer know you’ve taken the time to consider the value of an MBA.

Also, expect a lot of questions from the company. Have the basic facts down, but also generate some substance behind each fact that will heighten the value of your request.

Case for support

A good MBA program will train its students on basic business principles that will help them become a leader and an sharp business manager in the future. You can expect courses covering accounting, marketing, strategic planning, corporate finance and economics. Many specializations are available within MBA programs that you might want to consider as well. From finance and IT to marketing and management, if you have an interest in one of these areas, then you would probably want to select a specialization.

If a specialization fits within the company you’re working for, and you genuinely want to pursue that major, you’ve just found your angle. Explain how studying a specialization will benefit the company in the future, likening it to enhanced continuing education that will help the business profit down the road. Showing how spending the money now can return profits for the company in the future should always be a point for you to explain to your employer.

What can you expect?

A company isn’t usually going to invest the type of money associated with an MBA without some commitment from you, the employee. Many employers will require that you work for the company a certain period of time following your graduation date. Along with that, you’ll often be asked to sign a contract that outlines your obligations, including grade requirements, tuition terms and work periods. Should you not hold up your end of the contract, you may be required to repay all or part of the money spent by the company. So make sure you are comfortable with any contract you sign, prior to signing it.

Leave them with information

Offering up a printed outline of your case and the MBA program you’re interested in can give them some concrete information to look at when making their decision. Leaving them with some kind of report further shows your commitment and thought process behind the request. Include such items as:

  • Name of the school and the MBA program
  • The program’s curriculum
  • Costs and duration of the MBA program
  • The reasons why you need an MBA
  • Benefits of the MBA to the company
  • The reasons why you think the company should pay for it

By showing your commitment to the company and a willingness to develop yourself professionally for the benefit of the business, you will lay the foundation for a solid request of assistance. Remember that not all companies will agree to pay all or even a portion of tuition, but it shouldn’t keep you from seeking an MBA if you find it necessary. At the very least, your employer will know you have a desire to advance – which could go a long way during your time with the company.

About the author

Guest post provided by U.S. News University Directory an education portal designed to help students and working professionals locate hundreds of accredited bachelor degrees, online masters programs and certification courses from top colleges and universities, as well as, a growing collection of articles and career videos.