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Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship: Application process, eligibility, essay tips

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship: Eligibility, process, essay tipsStanford GSB is as elite as they come, in the realm of business education. Topping almost all the ranking charts including Financial Times 2018 Global MBA, US News, Bloomberg Businessweek, and countless more, Stanford GSB has secured its honourable place. It helps that its MBA graduates receive some of the best job placements with the highest starting salaries at around north of $200,000. And that’s not just an outlier.

In the past decade, Stanford has consistently scored among the top five MBA programs according to US News Recruiter Ranking from 2006 to 2018. Read Top MBA colleges in the world.

Having established its worth, its value in making careers is often offset by the incredibly high cost of attendance, as with other US MBAs. The two-year program can cost upwards of $220,000 including over $140,000 in tuition and program fees, $11,000 in medical insurance, $3,000 in books and supplies, and other living costs in California, one of the most expensive states in America.

Such high prices often become deterrent factors for well-to-do applicants, let alone students who come from the less affluent part of the world, like India, with financial need issues. Though other financial aid options are available at Stanford GSB, this article is relevant, in particular, for Indian applicants in need of financial assistance.

India’s Reliance Industries Limited has extended a golden arm to pull in competitive Indian candidates into the Stanford GSB MBA program with the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship. We will discuss its objective, eligibility, requirements, and other considerations that can land you in the comfortable position of being the recipient of the generous scholarship.

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship

Stanford GSB scholarship for Indian Students

This fellowship began as an attempt to encourage deserving Indian men and women to apply to Stanford’s prestigious MBA program, without the hurdles of arranging the financing. The fellowship offers 80% of the cost of attendance for each of the two years of MBA, for up to five Indians. The details of the program are collated below.

Who is eligible for the fellowship?

The foremost requirement is that the candidate be an Indian national. Besides the nationality, you need to have a strong educational background and should be a financially need-based candidate. The financial need is determined by reviewing candidate personal resources. You will ultimately complete the financial aid application, along with the documentations, to verify your financial need.

On top of all that, you should have a strong sense of commitment towards partaking in the development of the Indian economy. Your financial aid stipulates that you honour this commitment by demonstrating it in action, post your MBA. Here’s how the fellowship ensures the adherence to the above objective.

  • As a recipient of the Dhirubhai Fellowship, you must agree to return to India, within two years of graduation, and work for an Indian organization, in India, for at least two years. Thus, within the first four years of your graduation, you should already have two years of Indian employment to show.
  • This employment needn’t be at Reliance Industries Limited.
  • If you fail to do the above, you will be required to return the nearly $150,000 of fellowship money, back to the source.


Application Process for the Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship

If you are looking into the scholarship, you will need to prepare well in advance, even before you begin your MBA application. Deferred enrolment candidates too, need to have the fellowship application out of the way before requesting a deferral.

What are the steps to Stanford MBA admission with the fellowship?

The steps are lined up as:

  • At the first stage, the candidates apply (a pre-application) for the fellowship online, between April and May, as per the deadlines mentioned on the website each year.
  • Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship Program shortlists 50 candidates, and notifies them by June.
  • The shortlisted candidates are strongly recommended to apply to the Stanford MBA program in Round 1, though Round 2 applications are also acceptable. However, candidates are advised to keep the Round 2 rush and admission competition, in mind.
  • If you are a shortlisted candidate, your Stanford Application Fee is waived and you are eligible to receive a voucher to take the GMAT, or GRE.
  • You will go through the same application package as is required for Stanford MBA applicants. Every candidate needs to meet all the usual application requirements.
  • Stanford will evaluate your candidature based on their usual admission criteria of personal contributions, intellect and leadership potential. Finally,the school makes the decision on admission, selecting up to 5 Reliance Dhirubhai Fellows.
  • Read What Stanford GSB looks for in MBA applicants

  • Any of the rest of the finalists who don’t make the final cut are welcome to apply to Stanford’s financial aid and other scholarship options.
  • Read List of MBA Scholarships for Indian students


What does the fellowship pre-application require?

The process and requirements, for the fellowship, are different from the MBA application. To apply, you will need the following documents.

  • Education history verifying your merit – 10th and 12th Board results, both Joint Entrance Exam and CAT scores or either, and finally GMAT/GRE scores if available. In case your medium of instruction has been in a language other than English, then a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE exam is expected. No transcripts are required at this stage. That is a part of the MBA application.
  • Employment history till the time of application. The letters of recommendations are not required at this stage.LoRs are a part of MBA applications (Read How to choose your recommenders?).
  • Any accolades, awards, etc whether academic or outside.
  • A one-page CV and a 250 word essay.
  • And finally, your financial information.

The fellowship pre-application doesn’t need any fees.

Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship Essay Tips

The essay topic for the Stanford Reliance scholarship is as follows:

How do you aspire to shape India’s future?

As with most MBA essays, the question seems quite simple and innocuous – until you start answering it. How do you even start? What do you include in it?

We share some essay tips for the Stanford Reliance scholarship to help you break the ice.

  • Think of the right structure: Keep in mind that for a question as open-ended as this, the word count is really tight. You do not have the luxury to include every little detail. Try to break your overall story and see if any of the key inputs can be hosted in your CV, rather than the essay itself.
  • Choose the right goal: Someone on GMAT Club wanted to know if he could write about reducing corruption, and confessed that he wasn’t able to think of any other way but to use a gun and kill all the corrupt ones.
    Choose a goal that is not just a cliche, but also something that you can really connect with and have a concrete and practical execution plan (that does not involve a gun!). You’ll have a relatively easier time justifying it in the rest of the essay.
  • Connect the right dots: Think of all the skills and accomplishments you already have, that make this goal the right challenge for you to target. Specify how an MBA from Stanford would help you get closer to tackling that issue.
  • Stop looking for sample essays: Don’t fall for the temptation to look at successful essays for ‘inspiration’. You’ll probably end up regretting it. Here’s why sample essays don’t work. Write your own unique essays, instead of trying to portray yourself as someone else who used the exact same approach.
  • Keep the Stanford MBA application in mind: Chances are high that the admissions committee at Stanford will read your scholarship essay as well. Have a plan to structure your overall application (main MBA essays + scholarship essay) accordingly. Ensure that you don’t have conflicting points across the two. We’ve come across several who’ve won the scholarship but failed to crack Stanford’s main MBA application. So, don’t let the guard down at any stage.

If you need help with your Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship application essay, drop us an email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com.

Employment after MBA from Stanford with a Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship

As a Dhirubhai Fellow, you are obligated to return to India for two years of work and complete the stretch in the homeland within the first four years of graduation. Else, the axe will come down on the pocket and you will be required to repay the money, which in INR sounds more whopping at about 1 crore Rupees, than it does in dollars. Naturally, one of the questions you may have is What kind of company do I work for, in India?

As with other Stanford alumni, you can approach this in any way you see fit. You can work in a non-profit, corporation, government sector, education, etc, just as long as the company is Indian and is majorly located in the country. Examples are Reliance Industries Ltd, Tata Consultancies, UNESCO India, the Indian media, Indian engineering or b-schools, and basically any Indian organization where you can apply your skills.

While searching for successful Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship alumni on LinkedIn to see what their profile looks like, you may come across some impressive candidates, like Samder Khangarot (who’s also featured on the Stanford site), Puneet Mundhara, Karna Chokshi, Varun Jain and many others. However, you may not really get to know their full stories.

We’ve published this blog written by an MBA Crystal Ball consultant, who’s a Stanford Reliance scholarship recipient. He explains his entire application journey.

Good luck if you considering the exclusive opportunity.
Meanwhile, some relevant links.

Sources: 1, 2

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

6 thoughts on “Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship: Application process, eligibility, essay tips”

  1. I have completed my B.Com Computer’s . And having 2 years experience in Banking . I want to do M. B. A from abroad but dont have more money to afford.. Kindly tell me the best way to do M. B. A with minimum fees or with scholarship or stipend. How much money should indian neee to complete it.

  2. Hi Sameer
    My name is Sabil Khan i am doing M COM last semester will be completed after 6 months i want to do MBA from forign country like CANADA etc
    How can do it by GMAT
    I belong to a poor family
    can other country give us full fee scholarship tuition+ Monthly stipend through GMAT if i got 600 or 700 marks in GMAT
    please do reply

  3. I am currently pursuing final year in electrical and electronics engineering in India.I wanted to know in which all courses can i take a masters in.Am i supposed to take it in a electrical related course and if not which all can i opt.I also want to know how to avail scholarships if i get into any university.Also which unversity should i prefer

  4. I’m a Bba graduate currently working for an IT firm. I’m looking up-to doing my masters in business abroad anywhere in Australia, Canada or Germany. What are the exams I should be writing taking in consideration the expenses of studying abroad. Do any of these exams help me in reducing the tuition fee costs?
    Are there any scholarships available?

  5. @Praveen: Here’s how much an MBA costs in different countries:
    And yes, if you put in a strong application, you can get scholarships.

    @Sabil: Hee’s how to get scholarships for GMAT/GRE programs:

    @Alby: It isn’t necessary for you to pursue a masters in the field that you graduated in. However, you’d need to have a strong rationale for doing it, and be able to use your SoP to convince the admission officer why it isn’t a bad idea.

    @Monisha: You’ll find all the requirements and entrance exams for MBA here:
    A high GMAT/GRE score can help in getting scholarships, and reducing the tuition costs.

  6. Pleasant greetings sir,

    I am Electrical engineer with 5+ years of GCC+Africa Experience. Currently working in CP, Delhi. I wanted to do MBA from Canada or Australia and for which I am also preparing for GMAT. But the problem is my financial un-stability that lowering my confidence.

    Sir, is there any loans or financial aid provided by government for similar cases.
    I have 67 and 68 % in X and XII. and 73 % IN
    I am average and hardworking student.

    Looking for your valuable feedback.

    Best Regards,
    Ashutosh Maheshwari


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