When making the decision to pursue an MBA, the biggest road-block that students face is cost. Getting an MBA is expensive. Since it can turn out to be one of the biggest investments a person can make in their career, making an informed financial decision becomes necessary. However, since MBA gives a big salary boost, a lot of students go for the degree irrespective of the expenses involved.

Most MBA aspirants rely on multiple ways to finance their B-school education, such as student loans, support from parents, personal savings, and scholarships, among other sources. Out of all the options available, scholarships are either overlooked or students don’t realize that they have the option to seek one. But how do you qualify for a scholarship? and Does a good GMAT score matter in seeking it? In this article, we will answer some common questions students have around scholarships, like –

  1. Benefits of an MBA scholarship
  2. Types of scholarships available
  3. What is a good GMAT score to qualify for a scholarship?
  4. How to search for a scholarship?
  5. Tips for successfully applying for a scholarship


So, let’s take them one by one –


1. Benefits of Scholarships for MBA Students


Scholarships do not just help pay the high costs of an MBA degree. Instead, students can benefit from it even after completing their MBA degree. Let’s see how –

  • Worth mentioning on your resume
    Before awarding them with a scholarship, the school committees tend to evaluate a number of factors on the student’s profile. This is why scholarships serve as a huge distinguishing factor, worth mentioning on the resume and can also leave a positive impact on the future employers.
  • Helps escape student loans in some cases
    Student loans often take years to pay. By removing the financial barrier from seeking higher education, scholarships can help you do without a student loan. So, you won’t have to spend 3-4 years  paying off your loans.
  • Encourages you to perform better
    If you have competed against thousands of students to receive a scholarship, as it may happen in the case of merit-based scholarships, you will naturally feel confident about your abilities. Since you’ll worry less about finances you’ll be able to focus more on developing your skills and enhancing your knowledge.
  • Scholarships bring in diversity
    Scholarships open the doors for diversity in the class, especially the ones that are targeted to help candidates from the underrepresented groups. A diverse MBA cohort helps students challenge their own views about how to successfully run a business, understand the various challenges involved, and creates a productive learning environment for them.


2. Types of Scholarships

There are two types of MBA scholarships available out there for students. One, the scholarships offered by individual B-schools to their prospective students, and two, those offered by external funding agencies. Let us take them one by one –

a. School-based MBA Scholarships

Most business schools offer MBA scholarships to their students. Usually, these scholarships are either –

  • Need-based or
  • Merit-based

For need-based scholarships, the amount of financial aid is mainly determined by the prospective student’s family income and other socio-economic factors. Please note that the student’s merit and GMAT score is not taken into account in these cases.

Whereas, for a merit-based scholarship, as the name suggests, the GPA and GMAT score is a significant factor and are thus highly competitive. In majority of cases, the student’s GMAT scores, their overall academic performance, and other achievements help decide their eligibility and the amount of aid they would receive.

b. MBA Scholarships offered by External Organizations

There are several external organizations that offer MBA scholarships to high-achieving students. These scholarships can be based on multiple aspects ranging from gender, race, work experience, MBA specialization, region, or religion.

However, if you are looking for specific organizations that consider the applicant’s GMAT scores as well, here’s a list generated by GMAC of organizations that qualify to receive GMAT scores of students –

Scholarship/Fellowship Eligibility Funding
Canadian Bureau for International EDUCATION Canadian prospective graduate students looking to study internationally or non-Canadian students looking to study in Canada Varies greatly by program, but generally covers full tuition
Consortium for Graduate Study in Management U.S. citizens with a bachelor’s degree from the U.S.; must submit GMAT scores along with many other application materials for consideration Full tuition and fees for two years of full-time study
East-West Center Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., the Pacific Region, South Asia, Southeast Asia, or East Asia studying towards a master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Hawaii Full tuition, housing costs, fees, books, and some living expenses for a graduate degree at the University of Hawaii
Hariri Foundation Lebanese citizens studying for a master’s degree at Boston University Full tuition and fees for two years
Harvey Fellows Program Christian graduate students in several fields Stipends of $16,000 that can be renewed for up to two years
Institute of International Education-IIE International students looking to study in the U.S. Varies by sponsor; search the database for specifics
La Caixa Fellowship Program Students from Spain who plan to study at Indiana University, Bloomington Full tuition for two years of full time study
Roche MBA Fellowship Programme Students with undergraduate degrees in science/medicine Two full years of tuition
Stars Foundation Permanent residents of South or West Texas Full tuition for a master’s program
The Scholarship Foundation, The Patrick Turner Scholarship for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Students aiming to enter MBA programs and pursue careers in innovation or entrepreneurship 10,000 SGD (around $7,125 in U.S. currency)
Tibet Fund Applicants from India and Nepal Full tuition for two-year master’s programs
World Learning, World Learning (Kosovo) Citizens of Kosovo planning to undertake graduate study in the U.S. Full ride to a master’s program, followed by job placement in a Kosovo institution

3. Does a good GMAT score matter in getting a scholarship?

Students often wonder if getting a high GMAT score will qualify them for getting a scholarship. While business schools and other scholarship programs do not announce a minimum GMAT score that could guarantee funding, they do agree that a good GMAT score plays a role. A high-achieving student seeking out monetary aid has a better chance of qualifying for a scholarship, be it partial or full-funding, compared to another candidate with a lower to average GMAT score.

Mostly for top 20 business schools, a good rule of thumb is that you need at least 720+ to qualify for a merit-based scholarship. Talking about the top 50 schools, a score of 700 is the bare minimum required to be competitive for a MBA scholarship.

However, as mentioned, GMAT scores are not the only factor that plays a role. B-school scholarship committees as well as external organizations take into account the applicant’s Letter of recommendation, GPA, leadership attributes, work experience, writing samples, and his/her interests before granting them a scholarship.


4. How to Search for a Scholarship?


There are many ways for you to search for a scholarship –

  • Visit the financial-aid websites of your preferred schools – The most reliable information regarding scholarships offered by the school of your choice and the type of scholarship they offer can be found on their website. Most schools list their sources of external funding on their website as well.
  • You can also contact the MBA administration of the school directly to inquire about the scholarship programs they offer.
  • Some schools may automatically consider you for a scholarship upon receiving your application. While others may require you to produce additional information, such as your LoRs, writing samples, etc.
  • Go over the internet – The simplest solution to look for a scholarship for MBA is to look it up on the internet. There are several websites that are dedicated solely to scholarship programs and can keep you updated and help you identify schools that offer a variety of scholarships, such as scholarships.com, scholarshipportal.com, and studentsscholarshipsearch.com, etc.


5. How to successfully apply for an MBA scholarship?

  • Apply as early as possible. This will give you time to ready your documents and prepare your case accordingly.
  • Scholarships can be industry-specific, gender-specific, or nationality specific. Be sure that you apply for the right one


  • Seek advice from an alumni who received a scholarship from your chosen school or take help from an advisor before applying for a scholarship.
  • Pay attention to your college essay. Focus on your USPs, your GMAT score, and the value and diversity you will bring to the school. Don’t shy away from mentioning your achievements.
  • Always have someone to proof-read your essay, and double-check your application for errors.


Wrapping up

Neither the business schools nor the external scholarship-funding organizations list a minimum GMAT score as a requirement for granting a scholarship. However, if you are seeking one, you must understand that they do expect students to come with academic excellence and high GMAT scores. So, the bottom line is, if you are seeking a scholarship, aim for a 700+ score plus devote a considerable amount of  time on building your application before applying for a scholarship. And remember, every bit helps!