The format and amount of company funding varies widely. Some companies sponsor advanced education as part of a formal executive development program. This is the case for 70% of our students. More commonly, a company will have a “tuition reimbursement” or “tuition sharing” program. Usually this is a general employee benefit; 70% of our students participated in such programs. Sometimes, companies may not provide any support, especially smaller companies.
Requesting Company Support
Even in structured programs, companies often review requests for educational support on a case-by-case basis, so it is important to articulate to your management how the degree will mutually benefit you and, more importantly, the company.
Some common threads regarding MBA value to the company and the employee:
- Strategic thinking, critical analysis, and business broadening that enhances employee contribution to the company;
- A ‘big picture’ mindset and a more global perspective, supported by networking in other functional areas, companies and industries;
- Immediate use of the classroom experience on current company projects, and an opportunity for the company to build relationships with Purdue;
- Increased confidence, better communication, and new perspectives on management and leadership; and
- Retention of a valued employee, leading to more responsible developmental assignments and advancement.
As one graduate put it: “I made it obvious. I clearly indicated why I thought an MBA would bring the company and me further with concrete examples from the past and concrete plans and projects for the future. I presented it as a business case.”
Demonstrate a vision for career development and reasonable advancement, stating the kinds of positions where you can better contribute over the next five years. From an alum: “Ensure that your justification is real and is reasonable career development that extends past your current role.”
Suggest ways to make financial support palatable. Consider all combinations of financial support and time off, such as use of current and banked vacation, paid and unpaid time off and, if applicable, employee training days (a standard benefit in some companies).
Several alumni reported foregone bonuses and foregone salary increases in amounts up to the full cost of tuition. If full tuition is not forthcoming, ask about partial tuition reimbursement and coverage for non-tuition expenses.
Suggest signing a retention agreement, specifying the time you promise to stay with your company after graduation, and the penalties for leaving early. Typically, these agreements are two or three years in duration. This is common practice for employees receiving company support.