How to fund your MBA
Perhaps you’ve been in the workforce for some years, and are looking for an upward boost. And with society getting more competitive, there’s a constant need to upskill oneself. So, what’s the next step?
Maybe it’s time for an MBA, to further hone your skills, which might help you advance in your career. If you’re considering that option, here are some tips on selecting the right MBA path to take, and more importantly, how to fund your education dream.
How valuable is an MBA to you?
Master in Business Administration. It trains you in a spectrum of business-related fields, from human resource and operations management, to marketing, strategies and finances. Through discussions and case studies, you will learn to deal with a repertoire of business related issues. An MBA also offers valuable intangibles as well - soft skills picked up during discussions and presentations, and the chance to network with potential future leaders from different international backgrounds. There are both full-time and part-time MBA programs, available at public and private universities.
To many, an MBA can be considered the finishing tool of business professionals. However, the perceived value of the qualification varies across the business sector. It is particularly useful if you are in a corporation that encourages skills upgrading, and if the added certification results in increased recognition by your bosses. Also, where you received your MBA has its effects too, as undeniably, school rankings do shift values and expectations of the degree.
When is the right time to do an MBA?
One of the first questions to consider is whether you meet the course requirements. Most programs require a minimum amount of working experience, and a good undergraduate degree from a reputable academic institution. Singapore public universities generally set their criteria at two years of full-time work experience.
The next question to ask yourself is, how are you going to do your MBA? Would you be able to afford a full-time course, with its accompanying opportunity costs of missing out on a steady income and even promotion opportunities during your studies? Or would you be able to juggle the multiple pressures of work, family, and studies?
You will need to read up on the various MBAs on offer, locally and internationally, and see which suits you well. Look at the prospectus, and the various opportunities the programme can offer. Are you better off getting an MBA, or focusing on work? Take a look at this checklist, and mark the statements you better agree with. If you have more checks in the left column, then perhaps it’s time to start looking at potential MBA options.
|Why do an MBA now?||Why focus on work first?|
|I feel that it would give my career a further boost||Work experience plus strong workplace mentors allows me to gain real-world experience that a classroom might not offer|
|The chance to network with future industry leaders will open up opportunities||My role within the company is rewarding, and management has been noticing my contributions|
|The soft skills gained during the course will be useful in the future||Healthy evaluation and feedback processes in my workplace ensure that I constantly grow|
|An MBA qualification will open more opportunities and advancement upon completion||Internal or industry skills upgrading programmes increase my opportunities to advance|
|I want to learn beyond my current job scope||Internal mentorship and the chance of internal transfers allow me to grow my skillsets|
It is also necessary to ponder over the trajectory of the industry you are in, and question whether doing an MBA adds value to your prospects, or will the costs be a burden to you instead.
How much does an MBA cost?
Let’s face it. Getting through undergraduate studies was already a financial strain for you and your family. Here’s a look at the estimated costs of MBA programmes in Singapore. For the ones at public universities (NUS, NTU, SMU), fees stand at between $62,000 to $67,000 (for admissions in 2018)1. At local private institutions, the amount can be anywhere between $15,000 to over $100,0002, based on the college conferring the degree. An MBA from a top institution overseas would cost much more, for example London Business School’s tuition fees alone stands at around $135,0003.
You will also have to factor in other expenses during the course duration: textbooks, supplementary fees, meals, and if you choose to stay on campus, accommodation charges. Should you pick to do an MBA degree overseas, the amount can substantially increase after including items such as accommodation, transport, airfares, and daily necessities.
Then there’s the fact that you might not be drawing a regular income if you choose to do a full-time MBA. How would your family be affected by one less income? If you are considering an overseas program, would you and your family be able to bear the cost of uprooting the family? Career-wise, would an absence (of typically 2 years) from your industry put peers so far ahead, that your freshly minted MBA qualification become less worthy? Seen in this light, the MBA might not be that useful after all.
How to fund your MBA ambitions
One of the most direct ways would be to apply for a scholarship, although competition is keen for spots. Most educational institutions and their partners do offer full or partial scholarships that cover tuition fees and some other costs. Business communities and associations are also a possible source of scholarships. Some companies may offer funding options for skills upgrading, and that includes postgraduate studies. Explore the criteria and any terms, such as bond upon completion of programme, or repayment plans, to see if they are suitable for you.
If the above options don’t work out, you can still save up to fulfil your MBA dream. Calculate the amount that you’ll need to fund your studies, including loss of income if you plan on studying full-time, and accommodation and travel costs should you plan to head overseas. Assess your current lifestyle needs, and identify areas in which you can cut back on to set aside savings for your studies. Based on your income, and the projected amount required, draw out a regular savings plan, with the targeted entry time to the school put as a deadline. Do remember to have a comfortable cushion amount included in your savings plan.
You can also consider taking up POSB Further Study Assist to help with your MBA costs. Offering you an education loan at 5.88% p.a. with loan amount of up to 6 times the combined monthly income of you and your guarantor, a flexible repayment period of up to 5 years and no early repayment charges, you can then go study with peace of mind. Better still, if you are pursuing your MBA at one of our preferred institutions, you will be eligible for promotional rates of 4.6% p.a., lower processing fees, an even higher loan quantum of up to 10 times the combined monthly income of you and your guarantor, with a longer repayment period of up to 10 years.
So, is there an MBA on the horizon for you? Research carefully and consider the pros, and cons, of making this investment in yourself and you could be headed back to school soon.
2Singapore’s 19 MBA programmes under $30,000: http://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/exclusive/singapore’s-19-mba-programmes-under-30000
3London Business School MBA Program: https://www.london.edu/programmes/masters-courses/mba#.WhTrpbap2b9