Getting Employer Support for Your MBA
When undertaking an MBA as a working professional, it is helpful to have employer support. Depending upon your company and your situation, that support may be financial in nature, but can take other forms as well, such as offering time away from work for projects or experiential courses or the flexibility to work remotely or on an altered schedule so that you can engage even more deeply with campus activities.
Financial support can come on a spectrum as well, from an employer fully sponsoring your studies to using training and development budget to pay for a particular course or to partially fund your MBA education.
Tips for Requesting MBA Employer Assistance
Taking steps to procure support is often worthwhile even if your company doesn’t have a published policy addressing tuition reimbursement. Here are our recommendations on how to approach your employer for MBA assistance:
1. Research your company’s policies.
Search for any existing information on tuition reimbursement at your company—but don’t give up if you don’t find a formal policy. Companies without a formal policy may still offer financial compensation for professional development or training, and you may be able to apply that to study in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.
2. Identify the decision-maker, and find an advocate.
You’ll likely need to approach and work with the person at your company who makes this kind of financial decision. If that person doesn't know you well, you’ll also want an advocate (or even a coalition) who can support your sponsorship request.
3. Build your case for MBA employer assistance.
Gather data on whether your company has offered or leaders in your industry do offer compensation for pursuit of an advanced degree. Identifying other MBAs at your company—particularly those who have gone through the Berkeley MBA Program—may also surface additional advocates, who can speak to the value of the program.
4. Remind your employer of your past and present value.
Make clear your positive impact on the organization by gathering proof of your contributions and accomplishments over time. This is not the time to be overly modest.
5. Highlight the ways your MBA studies will bring value to your firm.
Pulling together your past accomplishments will remind you of your capabilities and your potential. Share curriculum specifics with your employer to illustrate the skills you’ll be gaining in strategy, finance, marketing, and leadership. Help your employer connect an investment in you to an investment in the company, one that pays returns through your knowledge, skills, and network.
6. Underscore the MBA program's cross-pollination with other industries.
We purposefully build each Evening & Weekend MBA class to include students from a variety of industries and job functions. The benefit to you and your company is a multitude of insights on strategy and innovation you might not be exposed to within your own industry.
7. Think about what you might give in exchange.
Prepare for a conversation with the decision-maker that isn't only an "ask," but a negotiation aimed at meeting both party's needs. For example, some employers offer financial assistance in return for a contract specifying a length of time you will remain at the company following your studies.
For more advice from students and alumni about approaching your employer for tuition assistance, please view our webinar on gaining employer support.