Convince Your Employer to Pay for Your Degree

1. Do your homework

Discover if your company has a tuition reimbursement program and what it includes. If you don’t find a formal policy, don’t give up! Some companies, especially smaller companies, might not have a formal policy, but still may offer financial compensation for professional development or training.

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management is piloting an innovative interest-free deferred tuition plan for future applicants to its online MBA program for students who don’t want to take on a lot of debt or get themselves into an unfavorable income sharing agreement.

The deferred tuition plan for the Online MBA is a straightforward way to reduce financial barriers for U.S. based students.

Under the plan:

  • Eligible students will pay tuition for the first half of the program and can defer payment of tuition for the second half of the program, net of any scholarship funds, until after graduation.
  • The plan has zero interest charges. Students only pay the amount they defer.
  • Upon graduation or program withdrawal, students will pay 10% of their annual gross income as monthly payments.

2. What’s their expected ROI?

We all know an MBA from UC Davis will be a good investment in your career, but you also need to address your employer’s perspective and answer the question “What’s in it for them?” To do this, think about what project you are currently working on. How will a degree help you with this? What will you bring back to the company as a result of advancing your business education? How will you having a degree give them a competitive advantage? What will you be able to do faster, better, cheaper, or more effectively if you have a graduate business degree?

Share curriculum specifics with your employer to illustrate the skills you’ll be gaining in strategy, finance, marketing, and leadership. Help your employer connect an investment in you to an investment in the company, one that pays returns through your knowledge, skills, and network. Be specific. You need to make sure to quantify how exactly you will be better at your job.

If you are asking them to make a financial investment in you, then you need to be sure to highlight what the financial return is for them.

Further Information: How can you determine the ROI of your employee training?

3. Follow the money

To make your best case at getting your company to pay for your graduate business degree, you’ll want to first find out where the funds would be coming from. Is it coming directly from your department or is it coming out of a fund more central to your organization? Knowing this will allow you to more clearly show how your degree will benefit your organization. It will also help you know how to best frame the conversation on return on investment (ROI) — will it benefit your department or organization overall. Knowing this will help you have a stronger case in your ask.

4. Build a base of support

Having an ally in your corner, beyond your immediate supervisor or a human resources staff member, can be extremely valuable for helping you build a base of support. Ideally, that mentor would be someone in a leadership position who could either advocate on your behalf or be in a position to make this kind of financial decision on behalf of the company.

If you can’t find an ally within your company, then reach out to the Graduate School of Management. Our Admissions office has a lot of specific knowledge about a program that will make it much easier for you to assemble your case. They might enlighten you with things that you may not have thought of before you’ve had a chance to sit in a classroom. They can also help connect you to alumni who work at your company. They can share first-hand experience of the value of the program to both you and the decision maker in your company. Hearing a personal testimony can be a powerful tool in persuading someone who might be on the fence.

Further Information: Navigating Your Future Success: Why You Should Schedule a Personal Consultation

5. You’re a keeper

You can also research how many job openings there are currently at your workplace and find out how many of them require a graduate business degree. If there are several, then that can help your case. It can be a big benefit to an employer if they can retain a good employee and promote from within rather than to recruit and train someone from outside the organization.

Further Information: The Many Advantages of Internal Recruitment for Employers

6. Time to shine

Compile an easy-to-read list of the positive impact you have made at your organization during your time there. Be sure to highlight proof-points and data of your contributions and accomplishments. This is not the time to be overly modest. Pulling together your past accomplishments will remind your employer of your capabilities and potential and will also help make them realize you are worth the investment.

At the end of the day, the key to proposing a case for support to your employer is to present a plan where they can see that paying for your graduate business degree is mutually beneficial. You want them to be just as excited as you are about taking this positive next step in your career and a making this worthwhile investment.