MBA Resources and Scholarships for Indigenous and Native American Students


According to a February 2018 Graduate Management Admission Council report, Indigenous and Native Americans are the least represented group in applying for MBA programs. Only 431 of 79,746 GMAT examinees in 2017 were Indigenous or Native American.

The same report shows that 74% of those Indigenous and Native American MBA candidates planned to use grants, fellowships, or scholarships to pay for graduate school, compared to 49% of their non-underrepresented peers.

MBA scholarships are therefore key in making graduate school accessible for Indigenous and Native American business students. To learn more, explore this guide.

MBA Application Preparation

Like all scholarships, the application process for Indigenous and Native American MBA scholarships involves several steps. First, it’s crucial to review the eligibility criteria before you apply.

While you may see many similarities between programs, eligibility criteria can vary.

Requirements you can expect include providing proof of tribal affiliation, enrollment in an accredited MBA program, minimum GPA requirement, and supporting documents such as:

Some scholarship programs may require interviews or essay prompts specific to the scholarship. So read carefully.

Remember to keep close track of deadlines as you identify scholarship programs you want to apply to. Respecting deadlines is crucial. You can create a digital or paper calendar, a spreadsheet, or a bulleted list in a notebook or in a Google Doc.

Regardless of the project management system you’ve created, ensure you use it to record deadlines. Start the application process early enough to secure letters of recommendation and gather and create all other required documents.

MBA Scholarships for Indigenous and Native American Students

Native nations, universities, and nonprofits offer scholarships for Indigenous and Native American students. Though not exhaustive, the list below provides a helpful overview of some of the scholarships that work to improve diversity and provide equity for Indigenous and Native American students. They support a variety of undergraduate majors and graduate programs, including MBA programs. Indigenous and Native students considering business school can use this list to start their financial aid research.

Catching the Dream Scholarship

Chartered in 1986, Catching the Dream (CTD) is a nonprofit specializing in Native American scholarships.

100% of CTD students who have graduated with MBA scholarships are currently employed, with over 85% working for tribes or tribal organizations.

These merit-based scholarship amounts range from $500-$5,000 each year. At least 95% of applicants earn a scholarship.

Award: Varies

PNM Pueblo Education Endowment Part-Time Scholarship

The PNM Pueblo Education Endowment Part-Time Scholarship grants financial assistance to students from the 19 Pueblo Nations of New Mexico pursuing a college degree. This scholarship is awarded six times per year.

Eligibility requires students to enroll in at least six hours of business administration studies at an accredited college.

Graduate students must have a GPA of at least 3.5 to apply.

Award: Varies Scholarship for Indigenous Students

With a mission to make education accessible, offers an annual scholarship for an Indigenous student pursuing any degree in any discipline. This includes undergraduate and graduate programs.

To be eligible, you must have been accepted by or be enrolled in a United States college or university. You must also have at least 30 semester or 45 quarter hours left to complete.

Award: $1,000

American Indian College Fund

The American Indian College Fund awards scholarships to Alaska Native and American Indian college students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, or certificate programs at tribal colleges and other accredited, not-for-profit institutions.

Eligibility requirements include enrollment or descendancy of a federally- or state-recognized tribe. Applicants must also submit a digital headshot and maintain full-time enrollment with a GPA of at least 2.0.

Award: Varies

American Indian Endowed Scholarship

Designed for students with close social and cultural ties to American Indian communities in Washington State, the American Indian Endowed Scholarship accepts all applicants but prioritizes upper-division and graduate-level students.

Each year, 10-15 students receive these awards.

The award is open to study in all disciplines except for theology. Awards range from $500-$2,000. You can still reapply each year (up to five years) to receive additional funding if you earn an award

Award: Varies

Cherokee Nation Graduate Scholarship

The Cherokee Nation offers three scholarship awards, including a graduate scholarship.

Designed for registered Cherokee citizens, the graduate scholarship funds students pursuing their first master’s or doctoral degree at an accredited university.

Students enrolled in for-profit institutions are ineligible. Those who live outside the Cherokee National Reservation and Contiguous area are also eligible. Eligible students must submit college transcripts.

Award: Varies

Chickasaw Higher Education Grant

Each semester, the Chickasaw Nation hosts a grants, scholarships, and incentives program for Chickasaw students.

Eligibility extends to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students with a minimum GPA of 2.0 each semester.

To apply, you must submit your unofficial college transcript with previous semester grades and hours and a semester schedule that shows the number of enrolled hours.

Award: Varies

Minnesota Indian Scholarship

Designed solely for Minnesota Indigenous and Native American residents, the Minnesota Indian Scholarship grants financial assistance to eligible Minnesotans in post-secondary education who demonstrate financial need.

Graduate students can earn up to $6,000 in scholarship funds.

Applicants must have at least one-fourth American Indian ancestry or be enrolled as a member of a federally-recognized American Indian tribe or Canadian First Nation.

Award: Varies

Resources for Indigenous and Native American MBA Students

NAFOA supports students by offering innovative learning opportunities and resources to strengthen their financial and economic skills. Through financial management training programs and the NAFOA Institute, they provide educational and professional development opportunities for Native American students. By advocating for sound economic policies and partnering with federal agencies, NAFOA ensures support for students and tribes in Indian Country.

AIBL is a nonprofit organization that equips Indigenous leaders by increasing their representation in business and entrepreneurial ventures. They provide education and leadership development opportunities to empower business students. AIBL aims to improve the low percentage of Native Americans obtaining degrees by offering resources, support, and work experience. Their internship program has significantly impacted students’ growth and development.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Scholarships for Indigenous and Native American Students

Can MBA scholarships for Indigenous students be used for both online and on-campus MBA programs?

Yes. Students can typically use MBA scholarships for online, on-campus, and hybrid programs. However, it’s best to read each scholarship’s specific terms and conditions to ensure the scholarship is a good fit for you, given eligibility requirements and your unique needs.

How competitive are these MBA scholarships, and what can I do to increase my chance of being awarded one?

Scholarships for Indigenous students are often highly competitive, though only sometimes. For example, at least 95% of applicants earn a Catching the Dream Scholarship.

You can increase your chances of winning a scholarship by focusing on academic excellence while demonstrating community involvement and leadership potential.

Drawing on these experiences, you can craft a convincing, persuasive application highlighting your unique talents and perspective. Also, share your aspirations and how you plan to reach your goals.

Are there any post-graduation obligations associated with receiving an MBA scholarship for Indigenous and Native American students?

Whether you encounter post-graduation obligations associated with your MBA scholarship as an Indigenous student depends on your scholarship provider.

While many scholarships require nothing from you, some may require you to fulfill particular commitments, for example, agreeing to take a picture and provide a quotation, like the scholarship listed above.

Some scholarship programs may want you to give a speech, work for a specific organization, carry out research projects, or return to your tribal community to contribute your newfound knowledge and skills.

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