An MBA delivers excellent value from the outset. Analyzing the class of 2020, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that MBA grads landed jobs paying $20,000 more per year on average than their undergraduate business school cohorts. Professionals with MBAs also enjoy quicker, more direct paths to upper management positions.
The downside: MBAs are expensive, with Poets & Quants reporting that a growing number of top programs now cost more than $200,000. While an MBA offers excellent return on investment, many students wisely seek novel ways of lowering their costs. Companies that pay for MBAs represent one intriguing option, and this guide profiles 10 major U.S. employers that offer valuable education benefits.
Do Many Companies Sponsor MBAs?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 Employee Benefits survey, 56% of polled employers offer education assistance programs. Midsize and large enterprises in many industries feature tuition reimbursement as a fringe benefit. Companies that pay for master’s degrees often deliver financing through tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance programs.
With tuition reimbursement, students cover their own fees, then get repaid by their employer. Tuition assistance works similarly but provides upfront funding instead of repaying the student for incurred costs. Most companies put annual limits on their education benefits, but a few offer unlimited financing for qualified expenses.
Companies that pay for master’s degrees often deliver financing through tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance programs.
Some employers provide scholarships instead of reimbursement or direct assistance. Though some offer renewal eligibility, employer-sponsored scholarship programs usually issue one-time funding. Candidates may need to submit formal applications and compete against other hopefuls for a limited number of funding opportunities.
Common Requirements of Companies That Offer Tuition Reimbursement
Companies that pay for MBAs structure their educational benefits in various ways. Eligibility guidelines, qualified expenses, and financial limits all differ among employers. Depending on the employer, these parameters may extend to factors including:
- Service Time
- Some businesses require candidates to be employed by the company for a minimum length of time before becoming eligible for education benefits. In other cases, the employee must commit to remaining with the company for a set period of time after completing their education to qualify for reimbursement or assistance.
- Eligible Programs and Degree Levels
- Employers may limit eligibility to educational programs with a demonstrable benefit to the recipient’s professional development as a company member. In other cases, they restrict support to specific degrees or degree levels, such as MBAs or master’s programs.
- Institution Type
- Employers often specify that students must attend an accredited institution to qualify for education benefits.
- Academic Achievement
- Recipients may need to maintain a minimum GPA or grade level to qualify for tuition reimbursement or assistance.
Is It Worth Getting Your Employer to Pay for Your MBA?
Jobs that offer tuition reimbursement or assistance for MBA programs have obvious appeal. However, the financial benefits come with some trade-offs that candidates should carefully consider before deciding on a course of action.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2019 Business School Hiring Report, more than three-quarters of U.S. employers were actively seeking to hire MBA degree-holders. This speaks to the strong value of already having an MBA when entering the employment market, as opposed to earning one after landing a job.
Also, consider the practical challenges of earning an MBA while holding a full-time job. Most companies that sponsor MBAs expect learners to continue working while they study. Candidates need to balance these responsibilities without affecting their professional or scholastic performance, while managing all their other commitments.
The Cost of an MBA
MBA program costs are another important consideration. Graduate-level business degrees tend to be expensive, and most education benefits feature relatively modest annual limits. Learners pursuing MBAs may need to cover significant costs themselves, even with help from their employers.
As such, potential MBA students should calculate the returns they stand to earn on their educational investment. Run the numbers both with and without employer assistance, then consider the results relative to the advantages of holding an MBA.
Remember that employer assistance is just one of many ways to finance your MBA degree. Explore all available options as part of your complete due diligence.
Getting Your MBA While Working
Candidates often focus solely on how to pay for business school without considering how to actually balance business school with a full-time job. Avoid this pitfall. Overextending yourself can negatively impact both your grades and your job performance, potentially nullifying the benefits you might otherwise have earned.
To address workload-related challenges, learners often enroll in school part-time and study online to maximize their scheduling flexibility. Students should spend 10-12 hours per week on their schooling for every course they take. Proceeding at a half-time pace with two courses per semester would necessitate 20-24 hours per week outside the classroom, plus regular working hours.
Candidates often focus solely on how to pay for business school without considering how to actually balance business school with a full-time job.
Online programs with asynchronous delivery formats allow learners to engage with coursework anytime and anywhere. Asynchronous programs strongly appeal to working students, as they allow learners to study on weekends and whenever else they can schedule blocks of time.
Business schools are increasingly sensitive to these issues, and many have responded with specially developed learning structures for students with full-time jobs. Evening and weekend programs offer options for learners seeking campus-based opportunities. Accelerated study paths with intensive, compressed schedules often appeal to students with multiple years of relevant professional experience.
Should You Get Your MBA Beforehand?
Considerable practical challenges accompany balancing full-time work with demanding graduate-level business studies. Before committing to this path, consider the merits of earning an MBA before seeking a job rather than afterward.
Beyond having more time to commit to their schooling, non-working MBA students earn the additional advantage of holding a highly marketable and prestigious credential prior to seeking employment. This offers significant advantages: In 2020, 78% of graduates from 138 ranked MBA programs landed jobs within three months of graduation.
Conversely, employer sponsorship of your MBA can ease the financial sting of graduate business education. Earning a full-time salary helps learners absorb costs more readily, often leading to lower debt levels and improving long-term returns. This remains true even before factoring in tuition reimbursement or assistance programs.
Is an MBA a Good Investment?
Basing Your Decision on MBA Sponsorship
The availability of education benefits certainly enhances a prospective employer’s appeal to job-seekers with MBA ambitions. However, they represent just one of many important factors candidates should consider. Others include salary, job location, flexibility, lifestyle perks, and other types of benefits included in employee compensation packages.
Also, some companies cultivate internal cultures that assign less value to formal credentials and place more emphasis on things like job performance and skill sets. MBAs may have limited utility in such environments.
Crossing an employer off your list just because it does not offer education benefits can limit your opportunities. Instead, consider a complete cross-section of impactful factors, and remember that you still have many options for financing your MBA even in the absence of employer assistance.
10 Companies That Pay For Your Master’s
This list of companies that offer tuition reimbursement or assistance highlights major employers with a nationwide presence. To receive consideration for this list, companies had to have at least 10,000 employees and offer benefits valued at $5,000 or more. Featured employers are listed in alphabetical order.
Health insurance and benefits provider Anthem, Inc. serves more than 107 million customers through its various programs and subsidiaries. The Indianapolis-based company maintains 11 additional offices, including locations in Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Louisville, and other major cities.
Beyond its internal learning and development program, Anthem provides generous tuition assistance: Employees can claim up to $5,000 per year in tax-free education reimbursements by attending an accredited institution.
British Petroleum, or BP, ranks among the world’s largest energy companies. The oil and gas giant traces its history to 1908, making it one of the oldest companies featured in this list.
BP’s educational assistance program comes with a few extra strings attached, but it counts among the most generous in the industry. Candidates must obtain supervisor approval before registering in their program of study, and they must also maintain passing grades to qualify for reimbursement. Those meeting these requirements become eligible for company reimbursement of up to 90% of their education costs.
This Fortune 500 company operates more than 200 automotive resale retail locations across the United States. It also offers free reports consumers can use to research pre-owned vehicle histories.
All Carmax associates qualify for tuition support at accredited institutions. Full-time associates can claim up to $5,250 annually, while part-time employees have a $2,500 limit. Learners must commence studies after becoming a Carmax employee and earn a minimum grade of C- in each course to maintain eligibility.
One of the “Big Four” accounting firms, Deloitte employs approximately 330,000 people in 150 countries and jurisdictions around the world. The company offers education benefits through its Graduate School Assistance Program, which trains promising professionals for internal advancement opportunities.
Deloitte’s program limits eligibility to graduate school and favors top-ranked institutions. However, it supports something offered by few other companies that pay for MBAs: 100% tuition reimbursement. Learners become eligible for reimbursement after two years of post-graduation employment at Deloitte.
This Silicon Valley tech giant has won rave reviews for its fantastic employee perks. Benefits famously include gourmet meals, extensive on-site wellness facilities, and generous health, wellness, and financial protection plans. Googlers also qualify for excellent education financing programs.
Google tuition reimbursement covers a significant portion of tuition and provides up-front financial help for any educational endeavor. Notably, the schooling need not directly relate to the employee’s role at Google.
This Cobb County, Georgia-based home improvement retailer has a strong community service track record. Since its 1979 founding, Home Depot has donated more than $350 million to veteran causes and nonprofits.
Both part-time and full-time employees enjoy access to Home Depot’s Tuition Reimbursement Program. Full-time salaried associates qualify for up to $5,000 per calendar year, while their full-time hourly counterparts can get as much as $3,000 in annual assistance. Part-time team members can claim up to $1,500 in qualified benefits.
In December 2020, this computer technology juggernaut moved its headquarters from the San Francisco area to Austin, Texas. Despite the change, the company retained its unique and positive culture, which includes an extensive employee benefits program.
Employees need to seek company approval for the educational program prior to enrollment. Those that clear this administrative hurdle can receive reimbursements valued at up to $5,250 annually.
Qualcomm is a recognized international leader in semiconductor, software, and telecommunications infrastructure. It holds several highly valuable patents covering various 5G technologies, making it an intriguing employment option for the information age.
Team members can take advantage of one of the industry’s most generous offers: Qualcomm offers 100% tuition reimbursementfor undergraduate and graduate programs at accredited institutions. In 2019, the company paid out $1.5 million in such benefits.
The United Parcel Service story began in 1907 with a $100 startup loan. UPS has since grown into a global delivery services giant with a 12-figure market capitalization.
UPS brands its educational assistance benefits as the Earn & Learn Program. Part-time employees can get up to $25,000 in college education funding. Eligibility begins immediately upon joining the UPS team, and the company notes that 70% of its managers began their careers as part-time workers.
Wells Fargo is a familiar name in the financial services industry. The international banking and finance company maintains more than 7,200 branch locations and operates offices in 31 countries and territories around the world.
The Wells Fargo tuition reimbursement program covers up to $5,000 per year in education expenses. Wells Fargo also supports a scholarship program, offering annual awards of $1,000-$3,000 to college-bound dependent children of employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can my company pay for my MBA?
Companies usually structure their education benefits as reimbursement programs that allow employees to recoup eligible expenses after meeting applicable terms and conditions. Others offer up-front tuition assistance, scholarships, and/or schooling-related performance bonuses.
Do companies sponsor MBAs?
According to a 2019 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 56% of polled employers offer education benefits. These programs help businesses attract and retain the top available job talent while supporting efforts to develop team members’ skill sets and promote from within.
What are tuition reimbursement benefits?
Tuition reimbursement benefits are compensation perks offered by some employers, usually at the midsize and enterprise levels. They allow eligible participants to receive financial compensation for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, books, and mandatory fees. Reimbursement programs require the learner to cover the costs up front, then apply for repayment.
Can you get tuition reimbursement and financial aid?
Tuition reimbursement does not impact a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid. Learners still qualify for federal loans, grants, and scholarship programs regardless of whether they stand to receive employer-based financial assistance for their schooling.
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