Diversity in business school graduate programs outpaces undergraduates

Media Credit: File Photo by Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

The graduate student body at the business school is more diverse than the undergraduate body, according to recently released enrollment data.

The graduate student body at the business school is more diverse than the undergraduate body, according to recently released enrollment data.

Underrepresented minority students make up about 65 percent of the graduate student population, while the group makes up about 53 percent of the undergraduate population. The percentage of white students in graduate programs has been steadily decreasing since 2011, falling from 42 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2018, according to enrollment data.

The percentage of white undergraduate students in the school has also been falling but at a slower pace, from 50.2 percent in 2011 to 43 percent this year.

International student enrollment soared by more than 15 percentage points in the graduate programs from 19.7 percent in 2011 to 35.9 percent in 2018. International students in the undergraduate program have also risen by about one to two percentage points a year.

Emily Recko | Graphics Editor

Source: Institutional data

Underrepresented minorities make up about 16 percent of students in graduate education, according to 2018 research by the American Institute of CPAs.

Anuj Mehrotra, the dean of the business school, did not return multiple requests for comment through University spokesman Jason Shevrin asking why the graduate program is more racially diverse than the undergraduate program, how the leadership at the business school tries to recruit students from underrepresented minorities and how the recruitment strategies differ for graduates and undergraduates. He also did not return a request asking how the business school has changed its programs to reflect its changing demographics.

Andy Cohen, the director of MBA programs at the School of Business, declined to comment, deferring to officials.

Sen. Mora Farhad, SOB-G and a first-year graduate student in the MBA program, said she thinks students of all backgrounds are attracted to the business school’s graduate programs because it offers six different types of Master of Business Administration programs.

She said having students from a variety of backgrounds in the program enhances learning by giving students the opportunity to work among peers who have different life experiences.

“We live in a day and age where you can get materials and learn things from the internet if you wanted, but what really makes the grad program stand out is your colleagues,” she said.

Experts on diversity and business education said graduate programs nationally are focusing on enrolling diverse student bodies because employers are interested in recruiting candidates from a multitude of backgrounds.

Juliane Iannarelli, the chief knowledge and diversity and inclusion officer at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, said research has linked greater diversity in gender and ethnicity to greater profits, drawing the interest of the private sector, she said.

She said business schools are trying to recruit students from different backgrounds by diversifying representation in marketing materials and engaging with younger students to inform them about what the business school offers.

“We are seeing schools spending as much if not more attention on the degree to which they have inclusive environments to their student body,” she said. “Efforts to recruit diversity are not the end of the program.”

She added that international students make up a large portion of graduate students across the nation.

Élida Bautista, the Director of diversity and inclusion at the Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley, said graduate programs can become more diverse by connecting with students at the undergraduate level and financially supporting first-generation students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

“One thing that comes up a lot with students who reach out to me who are first-generation college students is a family’s financial situation,” she said. “It is not just the cost of tuition or the cost of leaving the workplace for a couple of years but also that they have been the ones that their whole family depends on financially.”

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