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 30% 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).

*Company sponsorships and other external fellowships that exceed the cost of tuition and mandatory fees may reduce or replace any Wharton fellowships.

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.

*Company sponsorships and other external fellowships that exceed the cost of tuition and mandatory fees may reduce or replace any Wharton fellowships.

*Students in the Global cohort must have at least eight years of work experience to apply. For this reason, the Global cohort does not accept Fellows Candidates. 

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.

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

We’re Here to Help

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: