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Does IBM Pay For MBA? Revealed

“Does IBM pay for MBA” is a common question often asked by company employees looking to get a boost in their career trajectory. Although IBM does not disclose these kinds of policies openly, I have found a satisfactory answer to this question. 

IBM offers complete coverage of MBA expenses if the courses are relevant to the employee’s current position. The firm provides this opportunity under its Academic Learning Assistance Program (ALAP), delivering financial assistance to workers for MBA fees.

To participate in ALAP at IBM, employees must have: 

  • Commendable work history of five years at IBM
  • Willing for a two-year job contract following the completion of the MBA

Below, I’ll explore:

  • whether IBM pays for MBA to support the career and educational growth of their employees
  • the details, implications, and requirements involved.
IBM office headquarters in Madrid

IBM’s Academic Learning Assistance Program (ALAP) and MBA Coverage

IBM supports employees seeking financial assistance for MBA programs through its Academic Learning Assistance Program (ALAP). 

The initiative serves as a platform to assist hardworking and deserving individuals in the company in funding their educational expenses, including master’s degree program fees.

It is important to note that the ALAP primarily intends to invest in the workforce for future roles at IBM, so it is a win-win situation for both parties. 

Participation in this program is subject to management approval, as limited slots are available.

Eligibility Criteria

To participate in the Academic Learning Assistance Program (ALAP) and receive support for MBA studies, IBM employees need to meet specific criteria. Let me help you take a closer look at each requirement:

1. Work Experience at the Company

Employees must have an admirable work history at IBM, typically at least five years. This requirement ensures that candidates have a solid foundation of knowledge and experience within the organization before pursuing advanced education. (Source)

2. Achievements and Administration Evaluation

IBM’s higher management reviews the candidates on these parameters: 

  • Past performance
  • Achievements and contributions 
  • Leadership capabilities
  • Potential for growth
  • Ability to inspire and guide others

This evaluation helps gauge one’s ability to deliver results, take the initiative, meet objectives, and excel in their current role.

3. Recommendations and Endorsements

Positive recommendations and endorsements from relevant stakeholders within IBM are crucial for employees willing to participate and approve in the ALAP for MBA. 

These recommendations often come from supervisors or other professionals who have worked closely with the candidate and can vouch for their abilities and dedication.


IBM’s ALAP program for MBA studies has specific terms and conditions that employees must adhere to, which I am discussing below.

1. Employment Agreement with IBM

Employees must commit to a two-year employment agreement with IBM, meaning they will return to service upon completing the MBA program.

This contract demonstrates their dedication to applying newly learned skills and knowledge and contributes to the company’s success.

2. Relevance of Course with Job Role

The courses pursued in the MBA program must be directly relevant to the employee’s current job role at IBM. (Source)

This bar ensures that the education and skills acquired through the MBA program will align with the pursuer’s responsibilities to excel in their professional development within the company.

ALAP Learning Plans

Within the ALAP, IBM offers three learning plans to support the educational pursuits of its staff, including MBA studies. These categorized programs provide financial assistance and guidance throughout the academic journey. (Source)

1. Individual Course Plan (ICP)

The Individual Course Plan reimburses employees for tuition and career-related course fees. It allows them to take specific subjects relevant to their professional development.

2. Degree Work Study Plan (DWSP)

The Degree Work Study Plan covers the cost of undergraduate degrees (Bachelor’s) or non-PhD graduate degrees (Master’s). This plan is particularly suitable for employees seeking an MBA, as it provides complete financial support for the whole duration.

3. Special Studies Plan (SSP)

The Special Studies Plan is designed for employees pursuing full-time education toward a Ph.D. It provides financial assistance for individuals engaged in advanced research and studies, leading to a doctorate degree.

Man holding an 'MBA' sign

MBA Salary at IBM

It is essential to consider the potential perks of pursuing an MBA at IBM, including the salary packages after completing this degree.

According to my research on the available data, the estimated total wage for an IBM MBA employee is $142,888 annually. (Source)

To provide a clearer perspective on the salary statics, the table below outlines the estimated total pay for an MBA employee working at IBM:

Salary ComponentEstimated Amount per Year
Base Pay$103,010
Additional Pay$39,878
Total Pay$142,888

Manager’s Authority and Budget Constraints

Managers play an integral role in determining the availability of MBA reimbursement within IBM. 

As one Reddit user shared, “Last Summer, IBM said they’d pay for a teammate of mine’s MBA (Marketing). 5-6 wks before classes started, our VP said they’d no longer pay because of dept budget cuts. He had already turned down financial aid and had to defer.” (Source)

Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge that managerial decisions and budgetary considerations can impact the availability and continuity of MBA sponsorship at IBM.

IBM Masters Fellowships For Students

IBM’s one-year Masters Fellowships are dedicated to supporting students from historically Black colleges and universities in the United States.

By explicitly targeting trainees from HBCUs, the company aims to empower and uplift underrepresented communities by providing financial assistance and recognition for their academic pursuits. 

This initiative aims to provide financial assistance of $10,000 and focuses on a range of disciplines, including:

  • Hybrid Cloud
  • Cybersecurity
  • Quantum Computing
  • Quantum Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


For students to become eligible for IBM Masters Fellowship programs, a faculty member from their institution must nominate them. Addionlty, they should have at least six months remaining in their graduate program at the time of nomination.


  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.