EMBA Sponsorship

Prof. Peter Cappelli shares tips for how to start this important discussion with your employer.

While Wharton requires everyone to provide proof of their employer’s sponsorship of the time required to participate in the program, financial sponsorship can range from covering a portion of the tuition cost to providing full financial support. Explore this page to understand whether you are a traditional or Fellows applicant.

Sponsorship Requirements

For most applicants, proposing and receiving sponsorship is a crucial part of the application process. While employer endorsement is a requirement for admission, financial sponsorship is at the discretion of the student’s organization. It can range from accommodating a student’s schedule to covering tuition costs or providing full financial support for program and travel expenses.

There are two facets of sponsorship:

  • Acknowledgement of time to participate
  • Financial support

All applicants require the basic level of sponsorship, which is the acknowledgement of time to participate in the program. This acknowledgement is communicated to the Admissions Committee via the Letter of Sponsorship.

There are three types of candidacy for sponsorship:

  • Traditional Candidates: Company-employed candidates with at least 8 years of work experience.
  • Fellows Candidates: Company-employed candidates who have less than 8 years of work experience.
  • Self-Employed Candidates: Self-employed candidates and/or contract employees with more than 8 years of work experience.

Traditional Candidates

Traditional candidates must have a minimum of 8 years work experience.

Letter of Sponsorship
All applicants employed by an organization must have a formal letter of sponsorship from their employer, signed by a supervisor and submitted on company letterhead. The letter should:

  • Acknowledge that the company is aware of the employee’s interest in applying;
  • Provide assurance that he or she will be able to take the time away from work to attend classes and handle approximately 20-25 hours of study during the week;
  • Indicate the level of financial support the organization intends to provide (dollar amount, %, 0).

The letter of sponsorship is separate from the two professional recommendations, which are also required as part of the application. However, it can further support the applicant’s candidacy by providing an endorsement of the employee’s qualifications and leadership potential.

Financial Support
Financial support is not required for traditional candidates, but if candidates receive financial support, the letter of sponsorship should specify the amount. For approximately 70% of applicants, employers provide full or partial financial support. Some organizations cover all expenses, including travel; for others, support may be limited to tuition reimbursement or a fixed level of tuition contribution. Read Financing Your MBA if you do not have full financial support. Fellows candidates must have full financial support from their employers (see below for fellows requirements).

Fellows Candidates

Fellows candidates are those who have less than 8 years of work experience. Organizations support Fellows candidates because of their outstanding promise for advancement in a managerial career.

Letter of Sponsorship
Required. The sponsoring organization must submit a formal letter on company letterhead. The letter must:

  • Explain the exceptional managerial potential of this candidate; and
  • Confirm a commitment of substantial financial and program-related support and an understanding of the time requirements of the program for class attendance and study.
  • Provide assurance that he or she will be able to take the time away from work to attend classes and handle approximately 20-25 hours of study during the week;

Financial Support
Fellows candidates must receive substantial financial support, and the sponsor’s letter must confirm this support. NOTE: Applicants and sponsors may contact us in Philadelphia or San Francisco to review special circumstances that would influence these requirements.

Self-Employed Candidates

Self-employed candidates have at least 8 years of work experience and are able to provide their own financial support. This includes independent consultants, professionals, and business owners. Please note that Fellows applicants cannot be self-sponsored.

Letter of Self-Sponsorship
Self-employed candidates must submit a letter indicating that they understand the program’s structure and have the time and resources necessary to complete the program. If required, they should also show that they will be able to make arrangements with clients or colleagues to ensure full participation in class work and study.

Admitted candidates who are self-employed may be asked for IRS and/or related documentation to confirm the financial viability of the company.

Negotiating Your Case

In framing your case for sponsorship, it is important to be confident, present relevant data to back up your argument and be prepared to negotiate. What’s the most effective way to do that?

Relationships are the keys to persuasion at work

Start with your best and closest mentor relationship at work and then move toward your decision maker, step by step, using each person along the way to endorse the idea to the next one in line. The more momentum you build for an idea before putting it to the top people, the more likely it is to pass.

Passion matters

Show 100% commitment to staying with the firm; the greatest fear that companies have is losing you once you get your MBA. Find ways to make this commitment credible.

Set concrete goals

You have to sell the idea in each interview. Goals include:

  • Educating your target person on the value of an EMBA using success stories from your own firm or others
  • Getting your target person to help you understand the decision-making process for this idea
  • Brainstorming how your job can be redesigned at no cost to the firm to make attendance at the program feasible
  • Obtaining an endorsement from this person for the idea
  • Getting an introduction to the next person you need to speak with
  • Obtaining the resources and buy-in from the key decision maker

Speak to people in terms of their interests and needs, not your own

Develop a case based on some of the firm’s most challenging issues.

Follow up

Once a favorable decision has been made, follow up to assure that everything is done and thank those who helped you get here. Relationships established during this process can be invaluable later on as well.

Sample Sponsorship Requests

Making a good case for support is critical. Here are two sample sponsorship requests written by EMBA alumni that you can use to approach your employer:

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my employment situation changes during the program (for example, if I get transferred, there's a merger, or there are corporate layoffs)?

We make every effort to work with students to determine a way to complete their degree programs. Some students who have been transferred have either continued commuting to the program or switched campuses (from Philadelphia to San Francisco or vice versa).

Note: This option is available only after the first-year core courses are completed.

For others, an unexpected job development may require a deferral for a semester or a year. Campus transfer and deferral options are offered on a space-available basis.

I work for a not-for-profit organization and the possibilities for financial sponsorship are limited. Will that jeopardize my application, and are there any other sources of financial aid?

We welcome applications from employees of public and not-for-profit organizations. Whether or not your organization can support you financially won’t have a negative impact on your application. You may want to explore grants and scholarships from independent foundations and organizations.

If you are accepted, you automatically qualify for a loan through the Wharton Loan program. See How to Pay for Your EMBA.

What should be included in a fellows letter of sponsorship?

If you have less experience than the typical student in the program and your organization wants to sponsor you, a letter of sponsorship is required. You will be called a Fellows candidate and and will require a higher level of endorsement and support from your organization.

The letter of sponsorship must:

  1. explain your exceptional managerial potential
  2. confirm a commitment of substantial financial and program-related support as well as an understanding of the time requirements of the program for class attendance and study.

(You and your sponsor may contact the admissions staff in Philadelphia or San Francisco to review special circumstances that would influence these support requirements.)

What should be included in a traditional sponsor letter?

The letter of sponsorship should include a clear statement that your organization supports your interest in pursuing an MBA, and that it understands and agrees to the time commitment that will be required for you to complete the classwork and study demands of the two-year program. It should also indicate whether financial support will be provided.

If you are an independent professional or consultant or the head of your own firm, you can write your own letter of sponsorship. In this case, the letter should outline your ability to make the time commitments needed to participate fully in the program, including making arrangements with clients and/or others within your organization, and your ability to finance the program.

Can I sponsor myself?

Yes. If you are a self-employed professional or consultant, or the head of your own firm, you can write your own letter of sponsorship. This sponsorship should outline your ability to make the time commitments needed to participate fully in the program and make arrangements with clients and/or others within your organization so that you will be able to attend all classes and required program activities.

If you are employed by an organization that can endorse your candidacy but not support you financially, you may self-sponsor the financial requirements. In this case, your organization must still provide a letter of sponsorship stating that you will have the time away from work required to attend all classes and required program activities.

Does the level of financial sponsorship affect the admissions decision?

Full financial support shows that the organization is committed and endorses you strongly. We realize, however, that not every organization has the resources or policies in place to fully support an applicant.

Recommendations and a letter of sponsorship — that is, the assurance that a your organization sees the value of participation in the program and will support the time commitments of the program — are more important than the level of financial sponsorship.

Can my sponsor visit or talk to somebody during the admissions process?

Yes. We welcome the opportunity to talk or meet with your sponsor at any time to discuss any aspect of the program or your candidacy.

Is an employer required to provide financial support for me to be considered for the program?

While financial support by your firm is encouraged, it’s not required unless you are nominated as a Fellows candidate.