Diversity by the Numbers

There’s a diverse mix of students enrolling in all levels of business classes all over the world—not as diverse as it could be, but gradually changing in terms of both gender and race. The following charts draw on data from AACSB International’s annual Business School Questionnaire; the sample includes 412 U.S. members and 75 non-U.S. members who participated in the survey for the past five years.

Diversity by the Numbers

While white students make up the clear majority at all levels of U.S. business schools, Asian students are significantly represented in MA specialist and doctoral programs. The data shows another interesting trend: Hispanic students who pursue higher degrees are more likely to enroll in EMBA programs than MBA or doctoral programs. By contrast, there are fewer women in EMBA programs than any other kind. And while undergraduate programs tend to be dominated by U.S. citizens, international students make up a bigger proportion of the enrollments at each successive degree level, until they represent almost 46 percent of doctoral programs. (Note: Throughout this article, percentages given for ethnicity are drawn only from the data pertaining to the total number of U.S. citizens.)

While American schools enroll their largest proportion of native citizens at the undergraduate level, that concentration is highest at the EMBA level for schools outside the U.S. A few things hold true for business schools, no matter where in the world they’re located: The doctoral level is where they enroll the most students from outside their borders; the EMBA level is where they’ll see the fewest women; and the MA specialist level is where they’ll find the most. These numbers are drawn from AACSB members located outside the U.S. and cover the 2010–2011 school year.

For the past five years, enrollment patterns have been remarkably consistent in PhD and generalist MA programs (which excludes EMBAs). The biggest change has been in the numbers of non-U.S. students enrolled in generalist MBA programs, which more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, although there was virtually no variation in their numbers at the doctoral level. Changes in most other categories have been small but measurable. For instance, the number of Asians has steadily decreased at the generalist MBA level, but increased at the PhD level. While the number of black students in MBA programs has stayed relatively constant, fewer are enrolling in doctoral programs now than five years ago. The percentage of Hispanic students in doctoral programs has fluctuated during this time period—rising as high as 4.7 percent in 2009–2010 before dropping to 3.9 percent this academic year. More women have enrolled in both MBA and PhD programs in the past five years, though their gains have been small.

Testing for Diversity


The Graduate Management Admission Council also tracks diversity among business school student populations through data gathered from the candidates who take its Graduate Management Admission Test every year. Some highlights:

  • In the 2010 testing year, the number of women sitting for the GMAT exam broke 40 percent (40.1 percent) of total test takers for the first time. The global proportion of women continued to expand during the 2011 testing year, when they accounted for 41.4 percent of exams. The number of women taking the GMAT has now increased for six consecutive testing years, while men peaked in 2009. Women consistently outnumber men in two age groups: “younger than 20” and “20 to 21.” In all other age groups, more men than women sit for the test.

  • The number of Chinese women sitting for the GMAT exam has gone from 7,789 in 2007 to 25,671 in 2011, up nearly 18,000 (230 percent). Because only 14,398 Chinese men took the GMAT in 2011, women outnumbered them by 56 percent. By contrast, in India, 19,137 men and 6,257 women (25 percent of the total) took the GMAT in 2011.

  • The number of African American test takers was 10,048 in 2007 and 10,026 in 2011, but the overall percentage of total volume remains about 8.6 percent.

The ethnic, gender, and national makeup of faculty at U.S. business schools has changed only minimally in the past five years—and those changes are mimicked by similar ones among students enrolled in generalist MBA programs. For instance, there was virtually no change in the numbers of students and faculty with American Indian or African American heritage between 2006 and 2011. The percentage of Hispanics increased slightly, and the percentage of whites decreased slightly, for both faculty and students during this time period. There was a small uptick in the number of Asians represented among faculty, though fewer enrolled in MBA programs.

The biggest changes among both faculty and students have come in the international population. The number of non-U.S. faculty rose by only 1 percent—but the number of international students enrolled in generalist MBA programs jumped from 5.6 percent to 12.2 percent.

AACSB member schools outside the U.S. tend to have a higher proportion of faculty from outside their own borders—closer to a third. However, across all schools inside and outside the U.S., the ratio of men to women among the faculty remains fairly similar, with men usually representing 70 percent or more of the total roster.