Top MBA Class Diversity: Trends

Diversity trends in MBADiversity is not a differentiating factor anymore. It is the norm with schools setting targets on bridging the gender gap every year. Getting the right mix is not restricted to nationality, gender, or minority groups in each host country, but also includes candidates with different undergraduate degrees, pre-MBA experience, and post-MBA goals.

Why Diversity?

A recent study conducted by Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY evaluated 21,980 publically traded companies spread in 91 countries. The sectors were diversified to avoid any bias. Companies with minimum 30% women leaders in C-suite position increased their net profit margin by 6%. Business Schools have a bigger role in bringing women leaders to the mix as from the massive study only 4.5% companies had female CEOs.

1) Differing opinions in class

Most Business Schools agree that a healthy debate fuels quick learning and wider perspectives. Take the case study method for example. The primary learning comes from the differing opinions in the classroom. So having a variety of voices from different undergraduate streams, workplaces, and cultures adds new dimensions to what students learn.

2) Global Workplace

To be a successful manager in a globally competitive market, an MBA candidate must understand the dynamics of working with people from different ethnic, religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. A diverse class enables students to develop skills like cross-cultural sensitivity and appreciation of different traditions. Managers need to understand these differences in order to influence the team and work towards a common goal.

3) Can’t Ignore the Market

China and India, just behind the US, constitute the three largest markets for MBA applications. On top of that, corporations in China have developed deep pockets for mergers and acquisitions. In 2016 alone, Chinese M&A activity focused on U.S companies was at $31.3 billion in May 2016, ten times the money spent for the same period in 2015. With this new reality, Business Schools need a steady supply of recruiters from China to sustain the imbalance of local demand and uncertainties in the job market.

The Asian candidates also hold strategic interest as many of the Alumni can turn into influencers and determine the recruiter visits and endowments in the near future.

We evaluated the Top 5 MBA programs in the US for diversity.


All the top five business schools promote international students.

Columbia leads the way with as much as 48% international students while Chicago Wharton has the lowest representation of international students with a respectable 32%. Wharton’s class of 2017 had as many as 71 nationalities, closely followed by HBS with 68. Clearly, Wharton is aiming for diversity within the international students represented in the MBA class.

For a complete analysis of diversity in Top MBA programs by Undergraduate Degree, Pre-MBA industry, and Gender, along with access to our premium content, Download F1GMAT's Comprehensive MBA Research Guide.