Worried about paying for your MBA, but proud of your GMAT score? You might be eligible for funding! Many business schools offer partial or full scholarships for high-achieving students. But is there a specific GMAT score you need in order to secure a scholarship? Can you get a GMAT scholarship?
In this article, I’ll go over the average GMAT scores that tend to secure funding for business students, as well as some examples of specific school-based and organization-based MBA scholarships. You’ll get a good idea of how to find scholarships you’re eligible for and what kind of score you’ll need to have a shot at landing them.
Can You Get Scholarships for High GMAT Scores?
Many students wonder whether a high GMAT score can get them an MBA scholarship. The short answer is yes: While MBA programs usually don’t list a specific minimum GMAT scholarship score that will guarantee you business school funding, business schools and external scholarship programs often offer partial or full funding to high-achieving students. Often, a high GMAT score is a key component of how “high-achieving” is defined.
However, it’s important to note a high GMAT score isn’t enough to secure a scholarship. Both business schools and external scholarship-granting organizations usually take multiple factors into account, including GPA, writing samples, and letters of recommendation, all of which contribute to a holistic picture of a candidate’s likelihood of success.
Let’s take a look at the kinds of MBA scholarships available and how your GMAT score plays into your chances of receiving them.
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What Kinds of GMAT Scholarships Are There?
There are two kinds of MBA scholarships available: those offered by individual schools to prospective students, and those offered by external funding sources. Let’s go over both types and if there are scholarships for high GMAT scores.
School-Based GMAT Scholarships
Many MBA scholarships offered directly by business schools are need-based, meaning that the amount of financial aid you receive in the form of grants or loans is determined by your family income and other socioeconomic factors. For these scholarships, the GMAT isn’t taken into account.
However, most business schools offer merit-based scholarships as well. These scholarships are highly competitive and vary widely by amount and eligibility criteria. The GMAT is a significant factor in eligibility for these scholarships, which are awarded based on a student’s academic and personal achievement.
However, no business school lists a minimum GMAT scholarship score. Instead, business schools usually offer a mix of general scholarships for overall academic excellence and targeted scholarships aimed at a particular demographic (such as students of color or female or LGBT students) or at students with a special interest (such as an interest in a career in healthcare management).
For each of these scholarships, a scholarship committee that is specifically responsible for allotting funding will consider each student’s work history, academic achievements, career intentions, community service, and demographics to make a determination on eligibility for funding.
Visit your prospective schools’ financial aid websites or contact the MBA administration directly to find out about scholarship opportunities, some of which you’ll be considered for automatically when you apply to an MBA program and some of which will require a supplemental application (such as additional writing samples or letters of recommendation).
At Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, for example, there are a wide variety of scholarships available for incoming students, including targeted scholarships like the Diversity Scholarship (for students from underrepresented backgrounds) and the McGraw Foundation Excellence Grant (for students planning to use their MBAs to protect the environment), as well as the more general Kellogg Scholarship, which is awarded to select students who demonstrate exceptional academic abilities and leadership skills.
While none of these scholarships list minimum GMAT scores as a requirement or are specifically “high GMAT score scholarships,” all require GMAT scores as part of their applications. Also, all of them expect applicants to demonstrate academic excellence, of which your GMAT score is a key indicator.
Next, let’s look at scholarships for high GMAT scores offered by external funding organizations.
Organization-Based GMAT Scholarships
There are also many MBA scholarships available from external funding sources for high-achieving students. Many of these are offered to students from target demographics (race, gender, work history, MBA specialization, religious identity, region, etc.). Most scholarship-offering organizations, like business schools, don’t list a minimum GMAT score for eligible students; there are no specific scholarships for high GMAT scores alone.
However, we do know which organizations take the GMAT into account as part of a scholarship application, as the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) releases a list each year of all institutions and organizations that are qualified to receive students’ GMAT scores. You can find the updated list each year to search for a high GMAT score scholarship.
Let’s take a look at all of the scholarship-granting organizations on GMAC’s list that are qualified to receive GMAT scores.
|Canadian Bureau for International Education||Canadian prospective graduate students looking to study internationally or non-Canadian students looking to study in Canada||Varies greatly by program, but generally covers full tuition|
|Consortium for Graduate Study in Management||U.S. citizens with a bachelor’s degree from the U.S.; must submit GMAT scores along with many other application materials for consideration||Full tuition and fees for two years of full-time study|
|East-West Center||Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., the Pacific Region, South Asia, Southeast Asia, or East Asia studying towards a master’s or doctoral degree at the University of Hawaii||Full tuition, housing costs, fees, books, and some living expenses for a graduate degree at the University of Hawaii|
|Hariri Foundation||Lebanese citizens studying for a master’s degree at Boston University||Full tuition and fees for two years|
|Harvey Fellows Program||Christian graduate students in several fields||Stipends of $16,000 that can be renewed for up to two years|
|Institute of International Education-IIE||International students looking to study in the U.S.||Varies by sponsor; search the database for specifics|
|La Caixa Fellowship Program||Students from Spain who plan to study at Indiana University, Bloomington||Full tuition for two years of full time study|
|Roche MBA Fellowship Programme||Students with undergraduate degrees in science/medicine||Two full years of tuition|
|Stars Foundation||Permanent residents of South or West Texas||Full tuition for a master’s program|
|The Scholarship Foundation, The Patrick Turner Scholarship for Innovation and Entrepreneurship||Students aiming to enter MBA programs and pursue careers in innovation or entrepreneurship||10,000 SGD (around $7,125 in U.S. currency)|
|Tibet Fund||Applicants from India and Nepal||Full tuition for two-year master’s programs|
|World Learning, World Learning (Kosovo)||Citizens of Kosovo planning to undertake graduate study in the U.S.||Full ride to a master’s program, followed by job placement in a Kosovo institution|
What GMAT Score Do You Need for MBA Scholarships?
So, what score do you usually need for a GMAT scholarship?
Most business schools, as I noted, don’t advertise a minimum score for GMAT scholarships, so it’s hard to know exactly how to get a scholarship through the GMAT. However, merit scholarship committees generally look for a GMAT scholarship score well above the average at their school. You can check out the list of average GMAT scores at your prospective business schools or the class profiles of incoming students at your MBA programs of choice to see how your score matches up.
If your GMAT score is considerably higher than the average score of incoming MBA students, you’re likelier to be eligible for additional funding and to get a scholarship through the GMAT than if your GMAT score is average or below average for a particular business school.
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A good rule of thumb is that for top 20 schools, you’ll need a score of 720 or above to be competitive for merit-based scholarships. For mid-range (top 50) schools, a 700 is a solid score to be competitive for GMAT scholarships.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bother applying for funding if you don’t have a 700, because sometimes other factors (GPA or a unique personal background, for example), can override a lower GMAT score. Still, your odds of being a competitive scholarship candidate will be much higher with a score of at least 700.
If you have a high GMAT score (700 or above), you’re especially likely to get a scholarship at a mid-ranking school. Schools looking to move up in MBA rankings (such as those offered by Poets&Quants or U.S. News and World Report) are often willing to offer financial incentives to students with high GMAT scores in order to entice high-achieving students to attend their programs. So if you’re a high scorer looking for a generous scholarship or full funding, the middle range of business schools might be a good fit.
Wrap-Up: GMAT Scholarships and Your Exam Score
The bottom line is that achieving a high GMAT score is an important step if you’re hoping not to have to pay as much (or at all) for business school. A GMAT score over 700, and over 720 if you’re applying to top 20 MBA programs, will go far in securing funding for your business school journey.
If you’re looking for more information about what GMAT scores will get you into your prospective MBA programs, look no further than our guide to the average GMAT scores at top business schools.
Looking for more information about GMAT fees? Find out more about how much the GMAT costs here.
General GMAT questions? Our comprehensive GMAT FAQ sheet will help.