How to approach your employer for master's sponsorship
Find out how to ask your employers to fund your master’s degree.
Firms who develop their staff can reduce turnover by up to 73% and those with the highest levels of employee engagement see 22% higher profits than those with lower engagement, according to the CBI’s 2019 Great Job report.
In fact, the CBI found that businesses spend £44 billion a year on training. So, it’s not an unreasonable request to ask your employer to fund an online master’s qualification.
The main advantage for you in receiving employer sponsorship is that you graduate without any debt and continue to earn while you learn, gaining valuable work experience at the same time.
However, if you’re thinking about approaching your employer to fund your postgraduate study, it’s important you demonstrate how they benefit from your sponsorship. Our top tips below may help your prepare for the conversation.
Do your research
Before you speak to your line manager and/or decision maker, try to find out whether your employer has any formal staff training and development strategies in place or training allowance schemes that you could mention.
If your original contract of employment and starter pack are not readily to hand, the Human Resources or Personnel pages of a company website usually publish formal policies and guidance. Be sure to read the rules and requirements relating to any funding allowance so you can respond to them during your meeting.
If you are aware of any employees who have previously been sponsored, you may wish to tactfully remind your employer of any precedents.
Show your commitment
Make sure you have decided which course you want to study before approaching your company to raise the question of support. Any request for funding needs to be carefully tailored to a specific course and the corresponding learning experience, knowledge, skills and qualification it provides.
You want to make your employer feel confident that you are fully committed and intend to complete this course of study, so you might want to explain:
Any previous continuous professional development (CPD) you have successfully done.
Start as you mean to go on
The many advanced skills you’ll develop through postgraduate study – in terms of critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, professionalism, presentation and more – are part of what makes postgraduates so appealing to employers.
Even so, paying for any form of staff development is expensive, so it is important that you show your employer how serious you are.
Prepare a business case that explains why funding your master’s will be beneficial to them and their business, not just you:
Be clear about the costs and consider asking for full or partial financial support.
Link your motivations to study to your professional development and future with your employer.
Demonstrate how this advanced study will resolve any skills gaps or obstacles in your current role.
List the skills and knowledge you’ll develop and how these will improve your work performance.
Explain how you can share knowledge you gain to benefit your colleagues.
If you think it is likely you may require study days when assignments are due, be up front about this. Some employers offer paid study days as part of their development policies, but be prepared to take time off as annual leave if required.
Loyalty works both ways
If your employer agrees to fund your master’s qualification, there’s a fair chance you may be asked to sign some form of training contract. Your employer will be demonstrating a major commitment to you, so you should be prepared to do the same.
Some companies will stipulate that if you leave their employment within a certain period of time after completing your course, you will be required to repay some or all of the fees, or they may ask you to commit to staying in their employment for a certain length of time.
It’s understandable, from their perspective, that they don't want to fund your education only for a different employer to reap the rewards.