While some colleges and universities are becoming more racially and socioeconomically diverse, business schools are, by many estimates, lagging behind. However, as educators and administrators recognize a gap in their student body’s racial profile, many schools are looking to host a more diverse group of graduates. With admissions offices focusing on shaping a diverse student body, many online MBA programs are matching or exceeding the diversity levels of on-campus programs.
A Business-Driven Trend
An online MBA program is, above all, intended to provide flexible and useful real-world experience to its graduates. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the demand for a more diverse student body dovetails perfectly with similar demands in the business world. Increasingly, corporate recruiters seek to enhance company diversity. To do so, they often offer nonwhite MBA graduates higher salaries. On average, as of April 2014, African-Americans and Hispanics who accepted jobs upon completion of an MBA degree were offered $2,000 more per year than white or Asian graduates.
Selecting a Program
For many students, one factor in selecting an MBA program is the demographics and overall image of the school’s student body. For online students, classmate demographics may play a smaller role in school selection. However, black students may still gravitate toward schools that have a higher enrollment of black MBA students. Some of the most highly recognized MBA programs in the country have black representation between 12 percent and 22 percent of the total student body.
Online MBA programs are poised to assist in the challenges that have long minimized the presence of African-American students and other minorities in business schools. Historically, admission into business schools was largely influenced by connections formed in undergraduate programs. In addition, socioeconomic factors have been linked to performance on various qualifying exams, including the GMAT. Some online programs waive the requirement for standardized testing, which can be a benefit to students who perform poorly on these exams.
In essence, business programs have historically been dominated by a very narrow demographic of mostly white male students comprising the graduating class over generations. However, business schools are increasingly looking to shift their reputation and create a more inclusive learning environment that is in touch with the diverse corporate workplace. Black MBA students may reap the benefits of this change.
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