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International & Ethnic Diversity in the MBA Class of 2018

Diversity in the MBA class of 2018 across the US

The US has been hogging the international headlines for seemingly all the wrong reasons in 2017. The country’s new president and his aggressive, yet regressive rhetoric concerning matters of international inclusiveness has not painted a pretty picture for those considering MBA study at its top business schools.


However, in the fall (autumn) leading full-time MBA programs enrolled classes that were typical of the US’s recent past rather than what the most sensationalist reports would have you believe lies in its potential future. Here is a look at the proportions of international students and the proportions of those defined as being of US minority origin found among the MBA class of 2018 at 20 of the US’s top business schools. These figures are unlikely to change much in the near future, given these schools’ enduring appeal to applicants and the continuing demand among the country’s employers to bring in the finest emerging business leaders in possession of a top MBA qualification.       

Proportions of international students

In this selection of 20 top business schools in the US, the average proportion of international students found in the full-time MBA class of 2018 is 35%.

Proportions of international students in the MBA class of 2018

Sources: Class profile information from business schools' official websites

Three schools record figures of 40% or higher. The highest figure (48%) relates to the two classes which enrolled in 2016 at Columbia Business School, in January and August. A 46% proportion at Yale School of Management is next, although here it should be noted that the figure pertains to the number of its students in possession of an international passport. Stanford GSB, meanwhile, reports a 40% proportion of international students among its class of 2018.

There are also three schools with proportions this year that fall below the 30% mark. Those are UT Austin’s McCombs School, Vanderbilt Owen and UNC Kenan-Flagler. However, each of these schools still records a proportion of international MBA students that is higher than one in four.   

Number of countries represented in class of 2018 cohorts

In addition to the number of international students, some schools also report the number of different countries represented in their MBA class. Indeed, this can be quite a selling point for those keen on gaining access to as wide a spread of global business perspectives as possible. Harvard and Stanford lead the way here, with 68 and 62 countries represented in their MBA cohorts, respectively. While these schools, especially Harvard, are aided here by their larger-than-average class sizes, the average across the 12 schools in our 20 which make this information available is still an impressive 40 countries represented.

Minority representation at top business schools in the US

Definitions can vary a bit when it comes to the number of domestic students reported as being of ‘US minority origin’ in an MBA class. However, as a general guideline, a US minority proportion of around 26% is common among the class of 2018 at these 20 top business schools. Examples higher than this can be found at Wharton and UC Berkeley-Haas – each of which records a 32% proportion this year.


Some schools prefer to report instead (or as well) on what they regard as ‘underrepresented minorities’ among their domestic students and these proportions will be lower than for minorities as a whole. Among those recording this information for their class of 2018 cohorts, Yale SOM reports 13%, the McCombs School 14%, and the equivalent figure is 15% at the newly renamed Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, for example. 

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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