Francis Petit of Fordham University talks Executive MBA Funding
Francis Petit

Within the entire Executive MBA process, prospective students must be strategic not only in which business schools to pursue, but also in how to finance these programs. Given the price tag of some Executive MBA programs in the marketplace, moving forward and obtaining corporate funding for a program is not easy. It is also much more difficult now to obtain corporate funding than ever before.

You Have Corporate Funding

If you are lucky enough to obtain full corporate financial sponsorship from your employer for Executive MBA studies then, “congratulations” – as you are one of the fortunate ones! This achievement speaks volumes about what your organization thinks of you not only in terms of your present and past performance, but also your future potential. Your ‘sponsoring organization’ must certainly think very highly of you. As a point of note, in most cases Executive MBA students are not fully satisfied with their organization’s investment in these programs.

With this as a backdrop, it is critical that you approach this educational opportunity with a vengeance. This opportunity should not be viewed as a time to relax. Rather, go forward with the mind-set that you are one of the few ‘chosen ones’ within your organization – “To whom much is given much will be required”.

With that said, I would suggest your primary focus is to learn. I would not necessarily become too preoccupied about grades. In fact, take the ‘pressure of the grades’ out of the equation. In a perfect world if you work really hard and read not only the required but also the optional texts, you will do very well academically and the educational and learning experience will be quite powerful. Instead of just doing the assignment for the grade, I would approach your studies as a potential transformational experience, and it is up to you to make that happen.

As a Fordham Executive MBA student with full corporate financial sponsorship you will have multiple opportunities across our program to reflect, synthesize and apply academic frameworks and concepts towards your organization. This can be achieved via a multitude of deliverables including research papers, team projects, simulations and general analyses. I would suggest that you try to apply some, or much, of the academic deliverables to your professional position. It will allow you to ‘power your performance’ on the job and your organization will benefit as well. Be vocal with your organization about these deliverables. Your organization must know that they can benefit from their investment not only in the long-term, but also in the short-term.

In addition, fully financially sponsored Fordham Executive MBA students also have the opportunity to work closely with faculty directors and coaches to work through professional work issues and situations in order to achieve a ‘win/win’ for all stakeholders. These ‘Fordham Resources’ are available nonstop for our Executive MBA students throughout their 22-month journey. This is just another example of how an organization that sponsors you financially can benefit immediately from their investment.

Lastly, as a fully financially sponsored student in Fordham’s Executive MBA program we will customize your billing to fit the exact needs of your organization. We very much appreciate all that they are doing for you and your career. Our goal is to therefore be nimble to the needs of your organization regarding their specific billing requirements. It is our goal to deliver on this end.

As mentioned previously, as a fully financially sponsored Executive MBA student you will be one of the few within your cohort to have this opportunity. Please take full advantage from a personal, academic and organizational perspective. It should be your goal to make this a win/win experience for all stakeholders involved. Your proactive steps in making this happen will go a long way for all.

You Don’t Have Corporate Funding

Do not fret! You are not alone. Full corporate financial sponsorship for Executive MBA programs has been decreasing for many years. These programs are quite expensive and corporations tend to be risk averse with their behavior.

Organizations view the tuition investment for Executive MBA programs as a potential risk. From their perspective, fully financially sponsored employees could leave soon after their graduation even if they sign a contract to stay. Organizations are also quite hesitant as they believe everyone will come knocking on HR’s door if the word gets out that one individual obtains full financial-sponsorship. In addition, with short-term thinking pervasive now throughout most organizations, the investment in an Executive MBA program is more about long-term planning. However, most organizations do not adopt long-term planning and are very short-term with their behaviour, especially with the quarterly dividend ever-present.

With this as a background, you are a part of a growing prospective student pool not receiving full corporate financial sponsorship. If this is your position at this moment, below you will find more about what usually occurs, and some suggestions for you at this point:

You will be a prospective student for a longer period of time. This is a natural occurrence. You will be analyzing different sources of alternative payment options. It will also take time to come to terms with taking on this amount of debt. The thought process will be longer. Schools will come knocking on your door but you may not be ready to move forward.

You are going to want the best and most powerful EMBA experience possible. Traditionally, self-sponsored students want the most from their EMBA studies because they are paying for them. With that said, you will not only study very hard, but you will closely monitor and critique the entire experience including the faculty, the facilities, the technology, the calibre of your classmates and even the catering.

There is a good chance you may change jobs during your academic studies. Executive MBA students that are self-funded usually change careers and/or positions during the program. While this may sound daunting, it allows these Executive MBA students to recharge and negotiate the EMBA tuition with their new employer. Overall, the lack of corporate sponsorship can leave a really bad taste in the mouths of prospective and current students. This lack of commitment from the organization’s side usually leads these individuals to change job, or confirms to them that perhaps they should seek a new industry.

As you progress through the program, and even beyond it, the ROI will become less of a focus. On the front-end, as a prospective Executive MBA student, the ROI is everything. You are considering starting a program that requires a huge financial commitment with debt as the outcome. As such, you are looking to obtain the most from you investment. However, during the program your mind-set starts to change. You see how the program can really change you both professionally and individually, and alter your perspective on creating, delivering and sustaining value in the marketplace. In addition, your confidence levels will be soaring as you are part of a dynamic, professionally diverse and spirited cohort. Once you have graduated, the ROI becomes even less of an issue. You realize how these programs have changed you for the better.

Overall, while ROI should be a factor, the goal should be to try to enroll in the program that is the best fit for to enable you to really have a powerful academic and professional experience.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, Executive MBA programs, among almost all institutions, have a very high satisfaction rate from their current students and alumni, as well as a very high referral rate from an admissions perspective.


Dr Francis Petit is the Associate Dean for Executive Programs at Fordham University.

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