You are interested in advancing your career with an MBA and are trying to figure out logistics of time and money. What if your employer could provide financial support for school? What if it significantly offset your out-of-pocket expense or even covered your tuition in full?
The potential reward is significant, but we understand what an intimidating conversation that can be. With this in mind, we outlined three steps that can make asking your employer to help pay for your MBA more productive (and a lot less scary):
1. Do Your Homework
Before you sit down in front of your employer and ask for tuition reimbursement, you need to be 100% confident about what you want, why you want it, why you should get it, and how it can benefit your organization. Research the specific program you are applying for and highlight specific classes/skills you will frequently use on your work projects. What problem does your organization face that you could possibly help solve after earning your MBA? Is there a management position that you know you could excel at, given the knowledge/skills to succeed? Choose specifics. You should also be informed about whether or not tuition reimbursement is mentioned anywhere in your employee handbook, employee benefits package, or original offer letter.
Asking for tuition reimbursement is similar to asking for a raise. If you sat down in front of your supervisor and requested “more money,” but didn’t give any specifics, how do you think your employer would respond? In a similar way, you should also know the exact dollar amount you are asking to be reimbursed for. This gives your employer a quantitative request that they can use to determine: (1) where the funds may come from and (2) if the return outweighs the investment.
You can also do a little homework in the office! Ask your co-workers who have MBAs if their employer (whether current or past) helped reimburse them and how their master’s degree benefitted them in the position they are in now. Take mental notes, and don’t be afraid to use an MBA’s positive impact on your co-workers as an example for your employer! Organizations often reward rising business leaders who are inspired by those around them to learn and grow.
2. Talk To Your Admissions Counselor
The admissions staff of your potential grad school should be an incredible resource for advice on how to approach your employer. At Bryan, we have worked with many students whose employers’ tuition reimbursement programs have significantly reduced (or even eliminated) out-of-pocket costs. Our admissions counselors work to identify prospective students’ current roles and help unpack how the training provided in our MBA program can tangibly impact their careers. It is also beneficial to have a school contact you can give your employer, should they want to obtain any information directly from the source.
3. Assess Your Impact On The Organization & How An MBA Would Increase It
With all the information gathered from your school, co-workers, and company policy, turn your attention to yourself and your job performance thus far. Have you been a valuable employee? Why? How has your performance in your projects positively impacted the company? Do your sales calls generate a lot of revenue? Do your digital marketing strategies skyrocket web leads? Did your innovative internal systems idea improve operations or save the company money? Think about those things. Then, think about how getting your MBA would impact the company even more. Operate as if you are asking for a raise and define the reasons you think your employer should invest more in your time and talents.