Financing your MBA: Scholarships at VU Amsterdam

Want an MBA but worried about the cost? Senior MBA Recruiter Aki Voudigaris may have the answer. He told MBAGRADSCHOOLS about the school’s application process, as well as the scholarships at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam that put quality education within the grasp of often-underrepresented demographics.

In short

VU Amsterdam MBA programs by the numbers

Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam brings together cohorts that reflect the changing business landscape. Both its Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose and the MBA in International Business welcome incredibly diverse student bodies that become a valuable source of awareness for graduates to take forward into their future careers.

Executive MBA: Leading with Purpose

  • 15 years of average professional experience
  • 64% Dutch students
  • 36% international students
  • 80% women
  • 20% men

MBA in International Business

  • 7 years of average professional experience
  • 64% Dutch students
  • 36% international students
  • 72% women
  • 28% men

International students bring insights from countries as close as Belgium and Romania, but as far afield as Nepal and Argentina. This rounded experience adds to each candidate’s understanding of a variety of international markets and cultural viewpoints. 

If the demographics are diverse, the professional backgrounds themselves are just as impressive. As Aki explains, “Our candidates come from a variety of industries such as the automotive industry [and] consulting. We have for example Deloitte [and] Phillips.” (03:49)

When looked at in the context of MBAs of the past, VU Amsterdam breaks the mold in its diversity of backgrounds. “Gone are the days where you had a banker or a consultant,” Aki says. “Now you have engineers, now you have musicians, people from the arts, you have doctors, you have lawyers.” (07:57

The fact that times have changed is extremely encouraging for those who don’t feel their current career path is “fit” for an MBA program. But the benefits go beyond the course itself. Employers are increasingly looking for graduates who can bring something extra to companies, and unique working backgrounds can bring that edge.

Being “eligible” versus “fit” for an MBA program

The VU Amsterdam Admissions Team takes a global look at each candidate and makes a distinction about them being “eligible” versus being “fit” for an MBA program. Aki adds more color to the eligibility side: “Eligible refers to the minimum requirements that you need to fulfill in order to be considered for the program.” (02:42)

On the other hand, being “fit” for the MBA programs deals more with the personal characteristics that each student brings to the table, and they’re split into three main areas.

Resilience is one of the most important personal attributes to have, especially for the Executive MBA. Having to balance your program with a full-time job, family life, and taking some time for yourself is no easy feat and is highly valued by VU Amsterdam and future employers.

Emotional intelligence is also on Aki’s list of qualities for MBA fitness. He elaborates, “[It] is key for us because how will you handle a situation where you’re having a disagreement with someone in the program and they might be coming from a different discipline.” (00:59)

Self-understanding is the final factor. It is a marker for how you will react to people from different backgrounds or how you change your attitude depending on the situation. Being aware of behaviors and habits that you need to work on is a major plus for any applicant.

Scholarships at VU Amsterdam

VU Amsterdam’s MBA in International Business costs EUR€35,000, while the Executive MBA program is set at €43,500. Although they are in line with comparative courses at other institutions, Aki recognizes that MBA financing pathways are a high priority for many applicants. “The most typical question that I think all MBA recruiters get is the one about scholarships and financial aid,” he reveals. (04:46)

In line with its mission to be changemakers in education, VU Amsterdam offers three different scholarships. Each covers up to 50% of the tuition fee, which can open doors for exceptional students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the cost. Aki explains, “On average, our scholarships are anywhere between €10,000 to €15,000, depending on the candidate’s profile.” (05:58)

Change-Maker Scholarship

The Change-Maker Scholarship is destined for those who have demonstrated a selfless effort to help others. Qualifiers could be involved in community initiatives, charity work, or any other positive action. 

Women in Leadership Scholarship

As well as the impressive class demographics supporting women in business, VU Amsterdam offers the Women in Leadership Scholarship. Aki sums it up as “specifically for women who have shown leadership qualities or who perhaps are already leading in their industry or their company.” (05:19)

Diversity Scholarship

The most wide-reaching of the school’s financial support, the Diversity Scholarship is available to those from an underrepresented background. This could apply to applicants from a certain nationality, but it could also cover those from industries that don’t often follow the MBA path. As Aki puts it, “For example, someone from Argentina working in an NGO in the Netherlands.” (05:35)

Evaluating students for scholarships at VU Amsterdam

When it comes to MBA scholarships, prospective VU Amsterdam students skip the effort of filling out endless forms. You simply make your application and the Admissions Team will do the rest. Aki says, “At the same time, you’re being considered for a scholarship so there’s no separate process or additional documents that you need to submit for that.” (01:54)

Due to the nature of the scholarships, Aki and the team analyze CVs and cover letters for signs of leadership, activities outside of work, membership in non-profits or volunteer groups, and the profile as a whole. Similarly, they evaluate if candidates have come from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, whether it’s a particular industry or financial situation. 

Rather than being a cold, box-ticking exercise, Aki explains the motivation behind scholarship evaluations, saying, “when we make our decision, we try to evaluate that person, not a piece of paper.” (07:16)

Getting started on your application

With a clearer idea of the application process and MBA scholarships at VU Amsterdam, we hope you’re more confident about making a decision. If you’re from a non-traditional background, Aki has a reassuring message: “There’s no typical MBA candidate anymore. MBA candidates come in all shapes and forms.” (08:15)

For more information on the MBA experience, you can reach out to current students who will be happy to offer their insights on the course and the challenges they’ve faced. You can take it one step further by sitting in on a class either physically or online. That way, you’ll get a first-hand feel for the teaching style and the kind of content you’ll be dealing with throughout your MBA.

However, to get the ball rolling, Aki invites you to first reach out to him directly for more information.

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