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How to fund your business programme

  • Date: Wed, May 8, 2019

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The sizeable fees are a deterrent to many and it can put the course out of reach but there are ways and means to fund an MBA. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

By Aine McMahon

While the sizeable fees might seem to be a deterrent that puts the course out of reach, there are ways and means to fund an MBA.

The career pay-off for doing an MBA can be worthwhile as it can enhance your employability and lead to more senior job prospects.

You need not come from a purely business background to consider doing an MBA either. Candidates for courses come from a range of different areas such as media, finance, the civil service, retail, engineering and the non-profit sector.

MBA courses are structured to provide a chance to gain insights into several industries, explore interesting aspects of the business world, and gain insights into your chosen industry.

It will help you to challenge your thinking, develop skills in areas you had hitherto no experience so it is a worthwhile investment in your future.

The impact on your potential salary is an important consideration when deciding to pursue an MBA. If your employer isn’t paying for your course, embarking on an MBA can be an expensive undertaking.

If you want funding for an MBA you may have to look beyond your employer and seek funding independently as the fees charged can be much higher than courses in other disciplines.

Trinity College Dublin

For those with an excellent academic record there are several scholarships for high achievers. Trinity College offers a scholarship with the 30 per cent club which offers two 50 per cent scholarships. They also offer three €10,000 scholarships for entrepreneurs plus a range of merit based scholarships valued between 20 to 30 per cent of the fees depending on the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Their FT MBA is priced at €34,500 and their executive MBA costs €16,000 per year. Trinity also has a partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants where six members can get a €5,000 bursary. According to Trinity, post-MBA graduates see an average 59 per cent increase in their salary, 57 per cent have increased level of seniority, and 75 per cent have changed industry sector. Trinity Business School’s exclusive career development team provides advice, workshops, one-to-one coaching and introductions to an extensive portfolio of company recruiters, industry contacts and alumni.

University College Dublin

UCD Smurfit Business School is probably the best-known college for offering MBA courses in Ireland. It offers a range of merit and needs based scholarships for their MBA and EMBA programmes including scholarships for Women on the MBA, Entrepreneurial scholarships and the Aspire scholarship. Smurfit also has a number of media based scholarships partnering with Image Magazine and the Sunday Business Post. The scholarships range in value so they are worth checking out if you fulfil the criteria as many cover 100 per cent of the tuition fees.

UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is the only business school in Ireland, and one of an elite group of schools worldwide, to hold the “triple crown” of accreditation from three centres of business and academic excellence EQUIS, AMBA, AACSB AND AMBA. The full-time, UCD Smurfit School MBA is ranked 89th in the world and 25th in Europe and has been ranked in the global top 100 since 2000.

University College Dublin post-MBA graduates see an average 68 per cent growth in earnings after 3 years and 90 per cent are employed within 3 months. Recent employers of UCD MBA graduates include: MicrosoftMcKinsey & Company, AmazonAccentureAer LingusGoogle, EY, ApplePwCBank of Ireland and more.

UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School recently launched the 10th year of its Aspire Scholarship Programme. The scholarship provides graduates across the country with the opportunity to secure funding towards tuition at Ireland’s leading business school.

This year will see 50 per cent funding made available for up to nine MSc scholarships and up to three MBA scholarships for the 2019/20 academic year.

These scholarships are for applicants who have the ambition to undertake a business masters, but who may not have the financial means to do so. Applications for the programme can be made online at smurfitschool.iebefore Friday, May 10th, 2019.

The Aspire Scholarship Programme was launched in 2010 following a donation of €500,000 from an anonymous benefactor. To date almost 100 graduates have benefited from the programme since its introduction, with many of these alumni having either secured roles in leading companies such as Accenture, EY, CitiPepsiCoAIBUlster Bank, Avolon, Microsoft, Intel and Google or have applied their learnings in start-up businesses of their own.

Fees for a full-time MBA at UCD are €34,500, while fees for an executive part-time MBA are €15,950.


The DCU Executive MBA is a part-time programme, delivered one day per week (Thursdays, 2pm-9pm) over two years across four semesters. DCU Business School has a number of Scholarship offerings for the MBA such as the 30 per cent Club Scholarship which provides a €10,000 fee scholarship to be used for post-graduate study in DCU Business School. The deadline for applications for the DCU/30 per cent Club scholarship is 30th May, 2019


The UCC Executive MBA is designed to prepare its participants to become organisational innovators, managers and leaders. The course provides students with an understanding of core organisational functions and skills. It also provides an “integrative, critical understanding of the role of the leader/manager”. The fees for Irish and other EU students are €13,500 per year or €27,000 for the entire course. The fees cover tuition fees; teaching materials; study visit flights and accommodation; executive coaching; workshops; access to campus sports facilities. Cork University Business School, in association with the 30 per cent club offers one scholarship that consists of 100 per cent of tuition fees for the UCC Executive MBA 2019/20 for a successful female applicant.

University of Limerick

The University of Limerick offers a number of merit-based scholarships each year, aimed at attracting a diverse student population, many of whom would not otherwise have access to an MBA programme. UL partners with the 30 per cent club to offer a fully-funded MBA scholarship for women who want to maximise their career potential. This scholarship is open to all applicants who have a level 8 degree and at least four years experience (Equivalent qualifications are considered). Individual MBA applicants, who believe they may be a scholarship candidate, can contact the MBA course director for more information.

The programme is delivered in three-day blocks, once a month, on campus. There are four blocks per semester and two semesters each year. the MBA programme focuses on five themes: Internationalisation; Leadership; Strategic Thinking; Managerial Vision and Competencies; and Entrepreneurship and Innovation. For those interested, University of Limerick provide the only MBA in Europe with specialist Aviation Management electives. The fees for EU students are €13,500 and €15,000 for non-Eu students.

Dublin City University

The DCU Executive MBA is a part-time programme, delivered one day per week (Thursdays, 2pm to 9pm) over two years across four semesters. DCU provides a €10,000 fee scholarship to the 30 per cent club to be used for post-graduate study in DCU Business School.

NUI Galway

NUI Galway integrates an academically rigorous and challenging real-world business education with industry engagement and global learning. The college offers MBA Scholarships that cover up to 50 per cent tuition fees for the NUI Galway MBA, commencing September 2019. Applications need to be in by May 10th.

Funding from employer

More and more employers are contributing towards the cost of their employee’s MBAs but usually with the caveat that they return to work for them following their studies.

Several multinational companies will support staff to undertake MBAs, so students may look towards graduate employers who are known to cover fees for staff such as Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Intel and Salesforce.

If your employer has no formal tuition benefit or assistance scheme, you will have to convince your boss to sponsor or part-sponsor you or possibly give you paid study leave.

To convince your boss why they should justify the investment you should prove your record of achievment in the company and show how the news skills you glean from your MBA will be useful to the company when you return.

While smaller organisations are less likely to pay for your full tuition fees, you could suggest asking your manager to sponsor or part-sponsor you, or give you paid study leave.

Griffith College Dublin

Griffith College offers an online MBA in association with Edinburgh Business School. The flexible format means you can study and achieve the MBA at your own pace.

Dublin Business School

Some colleges will reward you financially if you can successfully refer prospective students from overseas. For example, students at the private college Dublin Business School can get up to €500 if they refer someone to the course.

Original article in The Irish Times.

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