MBA Scholarships for Women at Top Business Schools

MBA from a foreign university is by far one of the most expensive investment for your career. For females, the decision of going for an MBA is sometimes even tougher than their male counterparts due to various factors. The Women’s Day is around the corner. So, I thought it would be nice to share some of the most popular MBA Scholarships for Women at Top Business Schools worldwide, and also my thoughts on why women-specific MBA scholarships.


Why Women-Specific Scholarships?


Is it justifiable for the Business Schools to award MBA scholarships specifically to women? Why should Women have all the fun? Before discussing the list of MBA scholarships for women, we need to understand why women-specific MBA scholarships are there.


Last week, my senior female colleague (and Stoodnt’s India Business Head), Richa, shared a tweet that says 14% of Indian businesses are run by women. What was striking in that article by DNA is that they quoted “only 14%”. That 14% figure is largely influenced by the entrepreneurial and/or startup boom in India.


A BNP Paribas study in 2015 showed that India had the maximum number of women entrepreneurs in terms of percentage – 49% (Source: YourStory). So, if the startup boom was not there, “14%” figure could have been much lower. I don’t want to get into the stats discussion in this article. But, I do think that the numbers are on the lower side.


Last but not least, there is a gender pay gap issue. Women in India earn a median gross salary of ₹196 per hour, 19% lower than ₹242 for men, according to the latest Monster Salary Index (2019).


Women in Education & Leadership


The trend is changing in the higher education sector as well. One in six top universities in the world is led by a woman as reported by the Times Higher Education in 2016. I studied at Aston University in the UK. During my time at Aston,  Julia King was the Vice Chancellor of the Aston University. She held the position from 2006 – 2016. Despite her busy schedule, I did a couple of chances to interact with her. Julia is from the engineering background, a University of Cambridge graduate, and has got an exemplary career in the academia and industry. Last year, the University of Oxford, one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in the world, appointed Louise Richardson as the Vice Chancellor. Louise is the first female VC in the history of Oxford. So, things are changing. Have a look at the world’s top 10 universities led by women in 2016.


Women in Balancing Work & Family


Entrepreneurship is definitely a means of earning money and contributing to the family income. However, the challenge for many women (in India and abroad) lies in crossing the threshold, overcoming barriers and discovering their own potential and identity. In today’s age, women play a vital role in the management and overall business decisions. They are not only educated, talented, confident, ambitious and career oriented but they also their highly-skilled, multi-tasking, emotionally and culturally intelligent. More importantly, they are keen to learning and adapting to new things at a rapid pace.


Richa didn’t have her account on Twitter until February 2017. Her LinkedIn profile was also not updated until a month back. But, being a business head and a mother of two young kids (11-year old twins – Dev & Ambika) hardly leave that much time for social media. But, she has been learning quite fast. She is an MBA graduate from IIM-A, an accredited MBTI Trainer and is certified in ‘College Counseling for International Students’ from UCLA Extension. She loves working with the High School students who are looking for Undergraduate studies and has worked with over 8000 students in Career and College Guidance till date. Besides, she has been a serial entrepreneur.


women scholarships for mba

Richa in different Career & College Guidance Sessions

Women do face Hurdles


Women are anyway much more organized and patient in comparison to their male counterparts (not just my personal opinion). They can be very very good leaders – in business, technology, science or any other fields. But, sometimes, it takes a lot more time and effort for the women to reach the top positions (due to various reasons). There are several problems that women face in the real-world – be it corporate, academic or any other sector. Women have been found to be less comfortable when it comes to asking for pay raise.


The Harvard Business Review also published an article a decade back that Nice Girls Don’t Ask and about women’s hesitation to negotiate. Even if women are making more money, they get told by the management (or board of directors) to keep it a secret. Not only online articles, but I have also seen these instances in both my professional and personal life. There are many reasons that do stop women from pursuing an ambitious career graph; of course, there are exceptions as well.


MBA Scholarships for Women
Image Credit: Harvard Business Review


An MBA is often regarded as a career booster. An MBA degree might actually be more instrumental in making the women (and men) better business leaders. It is even better if that MBA can be earned from a top foreign business school. However, good things come at high prices.


Likewise, an MBA degree from a top business school can cost something between USD 60, 000 to USD 200, 000. From the Indian perspective and the international perspective, that is a very high amount. But, there is some good news. Be it for women empowerment, or gender equality (and diversity), the more and more top business schools are luring the female MBA applicants with the aim of increasing gender diversity in the MBA class, and therefore offering various Women-Specific MBA Scholarships.


Now, let’s have a look at the best and most popular MBA scholarships for women.


MBA Scholarships for Female Candidates


MBA Scholarships for Women at Top Business Schools


Forte Fellowship


The Forte Fellows Program is a women-specific scholarship program to help the female candidates to fund their MBA program – full-time, part-time, or executive. The fellowship can be availed if you get admitted at one of the 50 participating business school (sponsor business schools). All those MBA programs are among best in the world and include names like Harvard, Wharton, Yale, Kellogg, London Business School, INSEAD, HEC Paris, MIT-Sloan etc. You can find the full list here.


Candidates should demonstrate exemplary leadership qualities, commitment to women (and girls) empowerment through community involvement and/or personal mentorship. Besides, candidates must also have an excellent academic track record, accomplished career history, and visionary career goals.


The fellowship is open to female candidates from all nationalities. The amount of award varies from institute to institute and covers approximately 50% of the tuition fees. For example, the Forte Fellows at the Imperial College London will get an award of GBP 23, 500 against the tuition fees of GBP 47, 000. See the below table to get an understanding of the winning profiles.

 MBA scholarships for women

INSEAD Alumni Fund (IAF) Women’s Scholarship


The IAF Women’s Scholarship support outstanding female professionals who are looking at to do full-time MBA from INSEAD (Singapore or France). The idea is to increase women representation in the business community and thereby trying to maintain the gender diversity in the MBA class. Each year 10 to 15 women get awarded with this prestigious merit-based scholarship. The value of awards is up to EUR 20, 000.


Fondation Rainbow Bridge Scholarship at HEC Paris


Women of Asian and African nationalities and affected by a natural disaster, drought or famine are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Besides, candidates need to demonstrate a commitment to solving some of the social and economic issues affecting their countries and the long-term security of the people living there. Up to two scholarships of EUR 20, 000 are allocated every year.


Women in Leadership Scholarship at UNSW


The Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers two women specific scholarship schemes – AGSM Director’s Women in Leadership Scholarship (two 100% tuition fee waivers) and AGSM Emerging Female Leaders Scholarship (all MBA admits can have AUD 25, 000).


Nestle Scholarships for Women at IMD Switzerland


This scholarship is available for female candidates from all nationalities; preferably developing nations. IMD like other top business schools is very committed to increasing the number of women in the class from diverse backgrounds. The scholarship covers CHF 25, 000 towards the tuition fees.


C200 Scholar Awards


The C200 Scholar Awards program uses the C200 outreach program to fund outstanding MBA candidates. Women need to be enrolled in an MBA program that hosts C200 Reach out, displays excellent leadership qualities, entrepreneurial spirit, integrity, and a knack of giving it back to the society (especially to other women). A number of awards get allocated every year, and each award is valued at USD 10, 000.


ESADE Women of the World Scholarship


This scholarship is available to female candidates from all the nationalities. The scholarship is merit-based, and at the same time need-based as well. Candidates are expected to make a positive contribution to the ESADE Women in Business Club during their MBA studies.


London Business School MBA Scholarships for Women


Being one of the top business schools in the world, London Business School (LBS) is also very committed to promoting women participation in MBA programs. Currently, LBS is offering the following scholarship schemes for women to pursue a full-time MBA:


  • Lloyds Scholars LBS MBA Scholarship for Women (16 awards)
  • London Business School MBA Scholarship for Women
  • Nestle Emerging Market Scholarship for Women
  • Monica and Navin Valrani Scholarship (for Indian female applicants and worth GBP 20, 000)
  • Nirmal Talwar Scholarship
  • 30% Club scholarship
  • Carlsson family scholarship
  • Celia Atkin Avent scholarship
  • Forté Foundation fellowships


ESMT Women’s Academic Scholarships


European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) Berlin offers various MBA scholarships for women. Few of them are available only if you are pursuing the MBA program in the German language.


However, there is a 30% BTM tuition fee scholarship, which can be availed if you are pursuing the MBA program taught in English. This scholarship is dedicated to women who will work towards Bringing Technology to the Market.


There is also a full-tuition fee MBA scholarship for women (program language – English). This is called the ETP – Executive Transition Program Full Scholarship. This scholarship is aimed to equip female candidates who demonstrate excellent management and leadership potential with the relevant skill set required in an executive position.


SDA Bocconi Scholarships for Women


SDA Bocconi has currently got 20 – 35% females in their MBA class. They are now trying to increase that percentage, and are offering a couple of scholarships to bright and talented female candidates. The scholarships are valued at 50% and 70% of the tuition fees.  More details can be found here.


IE Women’s Positive Leadership Scholarship


The IE Business School launched this women-specific scholarship in 2016. Ideally, the candidates need to be residing in Europe and holding senior management positions along with minimum 10 years of professional experience, in order to be eligible for this scholarship.


MBA Scholarships for Women at Top Business Schools in the World


Few other notable women specific MBA scholarships (we will keep updating this list):


  • EDHEC Business School MBA Scholarship for Women
  • AAUW International Fellowships (any US Business School)
  • Herman Family Fellowships, Wallman Fellowships, and India Trust Fellowship (Chicago Booth)
  • Janet “Ginger” Gelb Scholarship (Yale School of Management)
  • The NYU Stern Advancing Women in Business Scholarship (NYU Stern)
  • UN Women National Committee Australia MBA Scholarship (University of Sydney)
  • NUS MBA Women-In-Business Scholarship
  • Women Leadership Scholarship at CEIBS
  • Scholarship for Women with Impact at HKUST
  • MasterCard MBA Scholarships for Women in association with Singapore Management University (SMU)


Related Articles:


Top MBA Abroad Countries for Indian Candidates

Top Business Schools in Europe for MBA, MiM and EMBA

How to Fund an MBA in the USA

Do you really need an MBA to fast-track your career?

When an MBA abroad is not worth and Best MBA Alternatives

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