The promise of more money is, perhaps, the dominant incentive of an MBA or executive MBA education. The average salary of an MBA graduate from a Financial Times top-10 business school jumped 128% from the time of enrollment to three years after graduation. Such degrees seem well worth the initial investment, but steep tuition costs can be frightening – especially when studying abroad.
In addition to leaving the income of a full-time job and moving to a new country, foreign students often pay higher tuition fees. For a China-based MBA program like China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), international students pay 25% more than their Greater China classmates.
But before the price tag of an MBA abroad makes you lock way your passport and jettison the key, keep in mind that there are more ways to pay for your MBA than ever before.
The hunt for cash
An obvious starting point is the schools themselves, which often offer merit- and needs-based scholarships.
“All told, 40% of our MBA student intake for 2008 will receive some type of scholarship assistance,” said Lydia Price, MBA academic director and associate dean at CEIBS. Many will be subsidized using funding from the European Union, she added.
QS Network, a higher education information provider, sponsors a World MBA Tour, which hosted fairs in 72 countries over the course of 2007. Prospective students can meet with business schools and become eligible for scholarships exclusive to fair participants. The total scholarship fund is US$2.7 million.
In the US, low interest-rate MBA Stafford loans are another funding option. All students enrolled at least part-time in graduate school are eligible for a Stafford loan, and students exhibiting financial need are not charged any interest until they begin repayments.
Asian programs tend to offer fewer scholarships. Unlike European programs, which benefit from government backing, and US universities, which often have large alumni endowments, Asian MBA programs are still in their formative stages.
In some Asian countries like China, the lower cost of living can help offset having less financial support available. The US and European joint programs can also benefit from reduced on-site costs an pass this on to the students by charging lower tuition fees than they do in the West. Webster University, for instance, has an English-language MBA program in Chengdu with tuition at US$8,500 per year – approximately one-half of its Stateside fees. The curriculum remains the same, however, as does the degree.
Meanwhile, Benny Luc, a member of Euromed Marseille-Shanghai Jiaotong’s joint MBA intake from 2006, estimated that 80% of his classmates relied on company sponsorship to pay their fees.
“In China, it’s considered a fringe benefit of [working in a company],” Luc said.
From an employer’s perspective, footing the bill for an MBA or EMBA has its long-term advantages: fostering company loyalty, keeping a company competitive and serving as a reward to keep managers motivated.
Luc, who is from Hong Kong, paid for his MBA from his own savings. “My financial position was strong enough to handle it,” he said.