Every professional who decides to start their journey through business school should also be aware of the overall cost of MBA studies. For most participants, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which is worth the investment. However, it helps to have a financial plan in mind and to be prepared every step of the way.

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If you think it’s time to explore new career paths through business school, you should start by considering the various expenses of enrolling in an MBA program.

Pre-admission expenses and tests

Business professionals who are committed to their international education should start their financial plan as soon as they start considering their options. Even if you are still looking for the best study opportunity for you, it is not too early to get to know all the costs associated with the MBA degree.

For example, most business and management programs will ask applicants to submit their scores on standardized tests such as GMAT and GRE. Candidates who are not native English speakers may also be required to take a language proficiency exam such as TOEFL or IELTS. The price of sitting these exams differs per country but keep in mind that good preparation may also require some financial investment. Many MBA applicants prefer to pay a certified tutor or to attend a group course where they can work on improving their test scores.

Although in some cases it is possible to receive a GMAT or GRE waiver, MBA prospects should have sufficient financial resources available even before gaining admission to business school. For instance, some professionals find it important to get a feel of the new country or campus where their studies will be taking place. Thanks to organized campus visits and tours, it is easy to get an insider perspective of a particular MBA program. However, if the university you are interested in is located abroad, you will be the one to take care of the travel expenses.

Application fee

Some MBA programs require an application fee which has to be paid upon submitting your application. Although the sum varies per school, it is typically not a significant investment compared to the full tuition of the program. For example, the MBA application fee at EDHEC Business School (France) is EUR 150. Other programs such as the Copenhagen Business School MBA (Denmark) do not charge this fee.

Nevertheless, if you apply for more than one business school, you might have to pay an application fee at each one. Considering that the application fee is non-refundable, whether you gain admission or not, you should have a budget specially dedicated to this part of the process.

Check out: Frequently Asked Questions when Applying to Business School

Tuition fee

The tuition fee is the main financial investment of obtaining an MBA degree. Needless to say, the total tuition will vary widely per program depending on the location and currency, the services included in the fee, and other factors. For example, Canadian and permanent residents who enrol at Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary (Canada) will pay about CAD 32,462 for their MBA. However, the tuition fee is higher for international students who pay about CAD 57,615.

While there are plenty of financial resources that students can use to ease their monetary investment such as scholarships, loans, and employer sponsorship, some business schools also provide the option of paying in instalments. This enables MBA class participants to split the main financial contribution into smaller chunks and helps them create a more detailed plan of their expenses.

If you choose to follow a payment schedule in instalments, be sure to mark every deadline required by the university for your next transaction. Business schools are well aware of the significant financial investment made by their MBA participants so they will usually remain open for assistance along the way.

Study trips

It is essential that every aspiring leader is prepared for today’s global business environment. Some programs take place in two or more countries with the purpose of developing the multicultural awareness of class participants. Most programs also organize international study trips and projects for that same reason. If you want your financial plan to be as detailed as possible, you need to take all the additional costs of study trips into account.

In cases when international study projects are not optional, most of their expenses will be included in the total tuition fee. The MBA program at EADA Business School (Spain) features a “one-week trip abroad with classes in a top-ranked partner school and company visits to inspire innovative thinking.” The latest cohort spent this international business trip in Singapore which was fully included in the tuition fee (flights, accommodation, and academic program). However, study trip expenses are handled differently by every school – read their tuition policy carefully before making your final financial plan.

Check out: A Creative Way to Pay Your MBA Fees (Quick Reads)

Additional expenses

We tried to summarize most of the major costs of studying an international MBA program. Even so, there may be additional expenses incurred. Some of them might be related to your studies – course materials and textbooks, for example. At Rotman School of Management (Canada), students need a budget of about CAD 2,000 for textbooks.

Don’t forget to factor in living costs in your financial planning as well. Accommodation, travel expenses, and health insurance are just some of the regular monetary obligations that we all need to take care of in our daily lives. For MBA students going abroad, these should be carefully included in the full financial investment.

Fortunately, business schools nowadays offer plenty of options for professionals with different financial availability and preferences. You can pick the format, structure, and tuition that suit you best.