Business school is a great way to grow as a leader, expand your technical or analytical skill set, and set yourself up to advance at your current company or pivot into a new organization or field. But these advantages come at a cost, and the price tag for business school tuition is often a major roadblock for prospective students considering an advanced degree.
A solution to this conundrum for many working professionals is to petition their employer for tuition reimbursement assistance. If you are considering business school, tuition reimbursement might be easier to secure than you expect. Read our guide below for advice and tips on how to best approach this important professional action, and give yourself the best opportunity to secure aid for your business school tuition.
Start With Research
Before you even begin to compose your pitch to your boss, you're going to have to do some research. Not all organizations offer business school tuition reimbursement to their employees, so the very first step in this process is to make sure your company does. Ask your friends and colleagues, or perhaps an HR representative, whether your workplace has a history of providing tuition reimbursement, and if they don't, find out whether they have a specific policy against it.
Taking this initial step is significant because you do not want to go into a meeting with your boss unprepared and give the impression that you don't value their time. You definitely want to avoid an awkward conversation that could produce skepticism about your decision to return to school at all.
Work Your Network, Ask Around
Your professional network is a key source of information for you throughout this process, not only at the initial research stage, but also as you begin to strategize your approach to this conversation. If you have any coworkers who you know have secured business school tuition reimbursement from your employer, ask them in casual conversation or over lunch how they approached the interaction. Get a sense of what they felt were convincing arguments, any missteps they feel they may have made during the conversation, and any other advice they may have for you about your boss's temperament during this kind of interaction.
Conversations like these with your colleagues can have the added bonus of improving your interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. Discovering a shared desire to grow intellectually and professionally can strengthen your relationships with your coworkers, and the knowledge you can gain about what makes your boss tick can help improve your approach to other professional interactions in the future.
Be Prepared With the Details
When the time comes for your actual face-to-face conversation with your employer, the last thing you want to do is to give the impression that you are not fully prepared to make your request. You should have all of the essential information about the business school or schools to which you are applying: their names, locations, tuition, average time to degree, and how much time you expect to spend each week on your coursework. This information can not only help assuage any concerns your employer may have, but also will present you in the best possible light as someone very serious about the magnitude of your educational undertaking.
As you compose the list of programs in which you are interested and gather information about them, you should consider online programs as well as more conventional on-campus ones. Online graduate business programs such as the Online MBA and the more specialized Online Master of Science in Marketing from Santa Clara University are ideal for working professionals who want to advance their careers or train to potentially pivot to a new one without having to step away from their full-time job or engage in an exhausting commute. The convenience of online education might be just what you need to convince your employer that you will be able to handle the time commitment that business school demands.
Speak Confidently About Your Potential for Growth
While your employer may happen to believe in the value of continued education and understand your desire to grow as a professional, they will still want to hear what they will get out of their decision to offer you business school tuition reimbursement. You should be ready to clearly list areas in which your graduate program of choice will contribute to your professional development, and more importantly, to show how it will boost your performance at work.
Are you looking to improve your business communication and leadership skills? To master the use of new digital tools and techniques that can improve your output and ability to strategize? To grow your financial acumen? Whatever you want to get out of your business education, be able to identify specific projects and initiatives at work that will benefit from your growth.
Show the Impact on Their Bottom Line
At the end of the day, the bottom line is likely what matters most to your employer. They may not be prepared initially to see the quantifiable benefits of offering business school tuition reimbursement, and they may go so far as to question the value of investing in an activity that will necessarily divert some of your attention.
You can turn their focus on the bottom line into a point in your favor by approaching your conversation with data in hand. Did you know, for instance, that every dollar invested in employee education by health insurance company Cigna in a 2016 study resulted in $1.29 in savings, or a 129 percent return on investment?1 Bring this information to your employer's attention to show that it pays to spend smartly on training a capable, productive workforce.
Make Your Investment Count at SCU
If you're interested in pursuing the Online MBA or the Online MS in Marketing from the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, employer tuition reimbursement can be the difference between reaching your goal and having to wait another year.
If your funding is secured, check out our tips for other key business school application steps such as composing a great admissions essay and acing your interview. Apply today to the Leavey School of Business to start accelerating your career.