Gaining Employer Support

Company support comes in many forms. Some companies pay all or part of tuition; others may provide time-off or flexible work schedules to accommodate the semester schedule and make attending residencies easier. Regardless of the type of support, you’ll gain the most from your education if your company is behind you. Here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Plan ahead 

Obtaining approval will probably take longer than you expect, so allow plenty of time.

Evaluate yourself 

You will be most successful if you demonstrate motivation, plan a career path within your company, and identify skills and knowledge you need to assume more responsibility at work. Anticipate objections and concerns that you may face, such as:

  • How will you manage time away from the office?
  • How will costs be paid?
  • How will you continue to excel on the job?
  • Why does Duke’s MEM Program offer greater value than other distance education programs?

Do your homework

Research your company’s education policy and approval process. Find out when you should present your request; for many organizations, the ideal time is before annual budget are set.

Talk to others 

Talk to your colleagues who earned a degree while working. Ask them how their degrees advanced their careers. Ask managers in your company for advice on developing and presenting your request.

Write a formal proposal 

Prepare a written request for support to demonstrate your motivation and desire to contribute more. Include a personal profile highlighting your accomplishments in case the final decision-maker does not know you.

Prepare to negotiate

Think through the concessions you are willing to make, and include them in your proposal or be ready to discuss them in person. Some common negotiation points include:

  • Foregoing raises or bonuses while in school.
  • Committing to staying with your company for a specific number of years in exchange for financial support. (A two-year commitment is common.)
  • Using vacation days for attending residencies.