MBA application fee waiver from top business schools

Who doesn’t like to save some money? More so when you are applying to the best business schools and are aware that there’s a huge avalanche of costs to follow once the program starts. Read this related article on how much it costs to attend a top MBA abroad.

Planning early can help you save a few hundred (or thousand) dollars at the application phase.

Take MBA application fees as an example. Even if you have selected 6-7 schools, you are looking at over $1,000 in application fees alone. But there are some bschools you should know about that don’t charge an application fee or reduce it if you meet certain criteria (like being an international applicant).

Consider the case of our friend who fine-tuned the skill of saving money and took it to a different level. He applied to 14 programs and paid the application fee only for 3 bschools. He got into Carlson MBA Minnesota admission with full scholarship.

While Harvard and Standford don’t offer application fee waivers, Wharton may consider your request if you have a good reason. There are several other good overseas MBA courses too where you can save $100 or more per application.


Business Schools that offer MBA application fee waiver

Applying to international MBA programs can be a costly affair. The expenses start mounting even before you manage to secure a place in a business school.

Cost-conscious candidates who feel the pinch tend to curb their expenditure by being selective and applying to a handful of b-schools rather than piling up the expenses at the application stage. This is because application fees for a lot of top good programs are usually in the range of $200-$250 (over Rs 10,000 a pop in Indian Rupees).

Why do business schools charge an application fee?

Admissions committee have a tough job reading through loads of application, resumes of candidates from varying career backgrounds and diverse nationalities. They need to evaluate these applications so as to shortlist the required numbers, all of which can be quite tedious. The application fee is for processing these applications.

The application fee also serves as a filter so that candidates who are not the right fit for the program think twice before they decide to apply.

However there are a few pocket-friendly programs which may either waive off the application fee or charge a lesser and a more affordable amount.

Top international MBA programs that don’t charge an application fee


1. Duke Fuqua School of Business

You can apply for an application fee waiver by sending a request to the admissions committee and mentioning the reason for the same. You can also attend one of the qualifying events to avail the waiver. You may also be eligible for a reduced application fee by obtaining a Fuqua alumni or current student recommendation.

2. NUS (National university of Singapore) Business School

This is one of the top business schools and luckily they don’t charge an application fee. So those interested in studying in Singapore can go ahead and apply.

3. Wharton School of Business

Application fee waiver can be requested in case candidates are facing severe financial problem paying the same. Applicants need to submit their request at least fifteen days before submitting their MBA applications.

4. University of Rochester Simon Business School

Applicants for a full-time MBA program can apply for a waiver provided they meet certain criteria, some of which include a GMAT score of at least 670 and a minimum of 4 years of work experience.

5. Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management

Applicants are offered a waiver of the application fee ($175) if they are able to prove their academic excellence. There’s a minimum GMAT requirement of 700 to be able to qualify for this waiver.

6. University of Manchester, Manchester Business School

They don’t charge an application fee. Candidates targeting a UK based one year program can apply.

7. Ohio State University Fisher School of Business

Here the application fee is comparatively lower: $70 for international applicants.

8. Cranfield University School of Management

This UK based b-school does not charge an application fee.

9. University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business

MBA applicants targeting a dual-degree program may qualify for an application fee waiver.

10. Tuck School of Business

Those participating in the Tuck Bridge program can have their application fee waived.

11. Washington University in St. Louis- Olin Business School

They do not charge an application fee. No pre-conditions for the waiver eligibility as far as we know.

12. Penn State Smeal College of Business

Here the application fee is again low at $65. They also offer the Penn State Referral Program in which if you’re referred to the MBA program by a graduate, current student, faculty or staff member, your application fee would be waived.

13. Rice-Jones Graduate School of Business

MBA/MD applicants are not required to submit the application fee of $125 USD.

14. University of St. Gallen MBA

No application fee is required for any of the St. Gallen MBA programmes.

15. Georgetown University McDonough School of business

Candidates who attended an Experience Georgetown information session or class visit between September 2014 and March 2015 were eligible for a reduced application fee of $100.

16. University of Washington Foster School of Business

The application fee is reasonably priced at $85.

17. Michigan State University-Eli Broad College of Business

This program too has its full-time MBA application fee at $85.

18. University of Iowa: Tippie School of Business

Here the $100 application fee for international candidates can be waived for exceptional candidates who have their career goals falling in line with the program’s strength. So if you have a good academic and career track record, send across your GMAT/GRE scores along with your post-MBA goals to the Admissions team and see if you qualify for the waiver.

19. Queen’s School of Business

There is no application fee for the full-time Queen’s MBA program. The MBA can be completed in a year’s time. Students can also take advantage of the 16-month dual degree opportunities.

20. Yale School of Management

The Yale MBA has a sliding-scale application fee. Though the application fee is $225, candidates earning less than $20,000 a year need to pay $175, for those earning less than $10,000 a year, it is reduced to $125.
Admissions policies change over time. For instance, Cambridge Judge School of Business earlier did not charge an application fee but now they do; the application fee for entry in 2015 is £125. Always make it a point to check the college websites for the latest updates or changes in the application fee.

Considering the huge investment involved in getting an MBA from a good business school, the application fee forms a miniscule component and should not be the deciding factor while shortlisting the schools you wish to apply to.

If you see a good fit with the school, go ahead and pay the application fee rather than sending your application to a random set of colleges (where your career goals after MBA probably won’t be met) just to save some money.

Instead, if you are really cost conscious, try to reduce the bigger components of your costs (like your MBA fees) by aiming for scholarships which can save you tens of thousands of dollars rather than a few hundred.

Here are several stories where Indians have got scholarships for MBA abroad courses.

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MBA Crystal Ball provides professional Admissions Consulting services. Hire us to improve your chances of getting into the top international universities. Email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Swati //
After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.


  1. shasank singhania says:


    I am currently working in SBI as an Assistant Manager.
    I graduated from Jadavpur University, Kolkata; which was ranked 76th in THE Asia 2014 ranking.
    My 12th and college grades are not good.
    I currently have an experience of around 11 months (5 months in Accenture + 6 months in SBI)
    I have a few years on my side to build a good profile. Any suggestions as to what I should do in the next 2-3 years before I start applying.
    10th – 89%
    12th – 76%
    BTech – 69.97%
    I am aiming for a decent B-school, I understand a high GMAT score is a must for me, but I want to know about any other courses or certifications that would help me offset my poor grades.
    Thanks a lot.

  2. Anirban Roy says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I have 6 and a half years of experience in 3 different fields… Started working as U.S. IT recruiter and workd for 3 years and 5 months, 9 months as a team lead for SysMind, LLC,… Moved to insurance, Bharti AXA LIC, and worked 7 months as an Agency Manager! I was job less after that for 8 months and I joined IBM GPS (BPO) and workd almost 20 months and then joind CampusEAI Consortium and workd only 93 days and had to resign for medical issue and was jobless for 13 months!! Recently joined Genpact as a Sr. Executive and its been 7 months now… Would like to go for 1 year executive MBA… I am a H.M. Graduate… So a 1 year ex. MBA would be better for me or shell I go for 2 years full time MBA…?

  3. nandita says:

    Hi sameer,
    I did my B.E in 2007 and i have 2 yrs experiance in CRM domain and den 6 month in E-commerce in IT industry. after that i got opportunity to work in public sector where i have been working since 5 years with MIS portpholio. now i want to come back to carporate sector. Looking for MBA as an option but considering the age 30 and hefty fees. getting confuse what to do. plz reply what would be the best option

  4. Sree says:

    I am very interested in knowing about how to get admission form waivers from the top schools? In MBA fairs, the lower ranked ones typically give more admission form waivers.

  5. SonaliD says:

    Hello ma’am. I received an application fee waiver from USC Marshall. Do they just send out these emails to improve their numbers by rejecting more applicants or does it make me a potential candidate? I would like some guidance so I won’t waste time doing such applications just to be rejected.

    Thank you

  6. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Sonali: With the increasing competition among bschools, admission teams are under pressure to increase the number of applications. It’s also tougher and more expensive for bschools to acquire and convert international applicants.

    As part of their marketing investment to reach out to prospective applicants, many business schools buy leads from test prep and test management companies. These leads are very cheap and available in bulk.

    While they can filter their emails based on parameters such as GMAT score, many might just send them en masse to the entire database they’ve purchased, since there’s not much for them to lose. Some of those applicants might be offered freebies to encourage them to apply.

    So, when you get such an email, don’t read too much into it.

    Remember that the application fee is only one part of the overall ‘cost’. Applying to every additional program will still require a significant amount of research and effort on your part.

    Apply only if you are really interested in the program and based on your independent research you think you have a good shot at converting it.

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