MIT Open Learning

By: MIT Open Learning on April 5th, 2021
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How to Ask Your Employer to Pay for Your Next Online Course

MIT Open Learning

Although many organizations have professional development budget set aside, asking an employer to pay for your continuing education can be a bit intimidating.

According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 as the “double-disruption” of a pandemic and increasing automation takes a toll on the global economy. Online courses and programs offer the flexibility that busy learners need, while giving employers a more scalable workforce education solution for increasingly distributed teams.

If you’re considering asking your employer for sponsorship or reimbursement to take an online course, take the following steps to get the conversation started: 

STEP 1: Do Your Research

Familiarize yourself with the course and note which learning outcomes align with your job’s goals. You can do this by browsing the online course's website, searching forums for insights from online learners, and reaching out to the sales or customer service teams with any questions you have about the course or program.

If you're interested in taking an online course through MIT xPRO, MITx, or MIT Bootcamps, you can access free professional development request templates at the bottom of this post.

STEP 2: Prepare Responses to Your Manager's Questions

Prepare yourself for the conversation you’ll have with key stakeholders or managers and anticipate questions or objections that may arise, such as:

  • OBJECTION: “It costs too much.”
    RESPONSE: It might cost more to neglect workforce training. Companies that prioritize employee development make median revenue of $169,100 per employee, while companies that lack on-the-job learning opportunities make half of that: $82,800. 
  • OBJECTION: “It will take you too much time and distract you from your work.”
    RESPONSE: Learning a new skill online does take time, but many online courses and programs are flexible and offer learners the ability to watch lectures and engage with the digital materials on their own schedule. Plus, the time a company invests in training will save them time in the long run. A study by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW) supports this, finding that a 10% increase in educational development produced an 8.6% gain in productivity.

STEP 3: Get the COnversation Started

Write an email before scheduling a meeting with your manager. Putting your request in writing is a great way to keep record of your proposal, and doing so before you meet with your manager helps you organize your thoughts to prepare for in-person conversion.


Here’s a customizable email template we’ve developed for MIT xPRO courses:

(You can copy & paste the customizable letter above, or download your own blank training request template to get the conversation started.)

STEP 4: show your employer what MIT has to offer

MIT xPRO, MITx, and MIT Bootcamps offer online courses and programs in emerging technology, innovation, and technical leadership, taught by world-class faculty to learners across the globe.

If you're interested in enrolling in a course or program as an individual, but need some guidance on how to ask your employer for professional development sponsorship, browse the templates below :

MIT Innovation Leadership Bootcamp
Bringing the rigorous, immersive, collaborative, action-learning experience of MIT’s in-person Bootcamps online.
MITx MicroMasters® Program in Finance 
Meet the complex demands of today’s global finance markets with online courses developed and delivered by MIT Sloan School of Management faculty.
MITx Principles of Manufacturing MicroMasters® Program
Learn the principles of manufacturing online from the world’s #1 ranked Mechanical Engineering department.
MIT xPRO’s Additive Manufacturing for Innovative Design and Production Course
Drive innovation across the product life cycle in this 12-week course.
MIT xPRO’s Architecture & Systems Engineering Program
Explore state-of-the-art practices in systems engineering in this four-course program.
MIT xPRO’s System Thinking Course 
A five-week online course that will make you a better problem solver by teaching you to apply system thinking in technical environments. 
MIT xPRO’s Quantum Computing Fundamentals Program
Understand quantum computing and how it will transform business in this two-course program.

STEP 5: Get your team on board

Do you have a few colleagues who may be interested in the same course as you? Many organizations take advantage of group discounts for corporate team training.  MIT xPRO offers group discounts for MIT xPRO's corporate workforce training solutions, so consider getting your team or a group of peers on board for an online course. 

Remember: your professional growth is worth investing in! Talking to your manager or human resources department about your organization's training budget can feel daunting, but coming into the conversation with confidence can make a difference. Good luck!