The Changing Fellowship Climate for Internationals

There was a time when international MBA applicants had a tough time finding financial support for their business school education.  The climate has shifted in their favor.

Historically speaking, fellowship and scholarship support for applicants to US business schools was about as rare as an honest politician.  Driven in large part by donor restrictions on endowment funds as well as domestically ear-marked budgetary funding from federal and state scholarship funds left the lion’s share of available merit and need-based dollars for MBAs largely going to “locals only.” 

This kind of tough environment left international applicants scrambling and struggling to make things work.  In most cases, international applicants had to not only skip scholarship and fellowship opportunities altogether, but also had to demonstrate in many cases the ability to pay for the entire cost of their MBA education up front and in full (with vetted and verified bank statements in their own names, for example).

Today, however, we find a much friendlier scholarship and fellowship environment for applicants from countries outside the US.  The amount of funding for such students both merit and need bases is at an all time high, evidenced by an ever-increasing percentage of international students receiving generous financial rewards.  What makes international applicants particularly attractive is also the reliably high GMAT scores that come from this competitive pool of potential MBA students, something which appeals tremendously in the arms race for talent at top schools.  After all, rankings are still driven in part by average GMAT score.

Ironically, international applications are down across the board.

Even when funding was difficult, the pool of international applications was plentiful, but the shift in the political climate of late to less-immigrant-friendly and emigrant-deterrent policies both in the US and abroad, coupled with the increase in quality and availability of international business education in countries foreign to the US, international applicants have been finding their MBA homes elsewhere.  Getting an MBA in the US, while beneficial in many ways, is also expensive, and business school applicants are typically pretty good at analyzing value. Now seeking new ways to diversify the applicant pool, US-based schools now have gotten more creative in how to attract quality international applicants from around the globe. 

The bottom line with international applicants, like any MBA applicant, is to do with reputation and dollars.

For the top programs, brand name is often enough to keep a deep pool of top applicants from other countries flowing in, but this hasn’t avoided the need for them to offer financial incentives

If you are an applicant to a business school in the US, you can rest assured that there has been no better time to apply than now.  Let us help you position your application in the best possible way to not only gain the coveted “yes” from the school of your dreams, but also to potentially receive a financial incentive as well.  Check out our next post for some new trends in funding alternatives that could possibly leave you without any student debt at all at the end of your two-year MBA journey.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via