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MBAs for Minorities

While news points to the closing gap of minority enrollments in MBA programs across the country, they often don’t take into account underrepresented groups such as African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Because the Asian-American population comprises a quarter or more* of MBA student enrollment, it may appear that the gap between Caucasian students and minority students is lessening, when in fact, enrollment remains low within the underrepresented groups.

*The Wall Street Journal

If you belong to one of these groups, keep reading to learn about the resources available to minorities to close that gap and earn more seats in the business school classroom.

The Statistics

Bloomberg Business reported only 6 percent of MBA students identified themselves as Black, and another 6 percent as Hispanic in their 2014 full-time MBA student ranking survey. What this can mean, however, is there is opportunity for underrepresented minority students wishing to earn an MBA because many schools are hoping to increase percentages. But it’s up to the students to take the first steps and many fear they will not have the same opportunities for programs and networking, so they simply don’t take the risk.

While administrators are at a loss to state exactly why some schools do better at attracting more minority MBA candidates than others, the reason seems to be fairly obvious: They provide academic support, scholarships and help for minority students, as well as student affinity groups and clubs that “help create a sense of belonging to something that’s bigger than them,” says the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.

Let’s take a look at some of the data. Here is a percentage chart of master’s degree students by ethnicity, provided by the Digest of Educational Statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016, and including U.S. citizens only.

Master’s Students by Ethnicity:

White: 66.3%
Black: 15.3%
Hispanic: 9.3%
Asian/Pacific Islander: 6.2%
American Indian: 0.5%

MBA in Accounting enrollments by ethnicity from the 2014 AICPA Report:

MBA in Accounting Students by Enrollment, Nationally:

White: 62%
Asian: 14%
Black: 3%
Hispanic: 5%

Ironically, for elite colleges that look at the “institutional fit” of a student—that is, will a person thrive at and contribute to the college—the most important variable according to Inside Higher Ed was “underrepresented race/ethnicity,” with a 42 percent importance factor, followed by talent, athletic status, likelihood of enrolling, and fund-raising potential.

Problems and Possibility

Admissions officers bemoan the lack of diversity too, and say they are trying to increase the demand from the business world for non-White and Asian MBA students. However, they are limited by a student population that reflects their applicant pool, and they can’t admit students who don’t apply or who aren’t qualified. As the business world and recruiters gear up to accommodate a marketplace that is more minority-saturated, they are also struggling to fill positions that could use minority talent.

Is it getting better at all? It sure can. Not surprisingly, some schools do better than others based on geography and the diversity of the community around a particular institution. For example, Miami has the most African American students enrolled in MBA programs, and Florida International University has the largest Hispanic enrollees in their MBA program, followed by Miami University, Syracuse University and Babson College.*


mba-minorities-class-of-2017Forbes says things are changing in the top schools, with the MBA Class of 2017 including more female students and more international students than ever before—and both have higher GPAs and GMAT scores than previous classes. Even though this is referring to the most competitive business school programs, it’s possible to continue this improvement across the board. But it’s up to the students to pursue their education and make a change in their own lives while changing the educational climate at the same time.

So the message is clear: student diversity in MBA programs will stay low as long as minority students don’t apply. With schools hoping to fill MBA program enrollments, there’s plenty of opportunity to be had, and financial aid and scholarship opportunities are also growing. By doing your research, you’re already ahead of the game.

Considerations in Choosing an MBA Program

Of the minority students enrolled in MBA programs, what factors were most important in their program consideration?

While some of the criteria—such as location, reputation, recommendations from friends and peers, fees and placement—is of global concern no matter what ethnicity, the biggest consideration was simple. mba-minorities-quoteBloomberg Business interviewed one Black student whose primary criteria was representational of the other 99.9 percent: “I wanted to go to a school where there were going to be people like me,” he stated. And that includes professional and social networks, campus associations, and housing options that cater to those with similar lifestyles and needs.

For minority MBA program seekers choosing traditional schools, this might be a big deal, but for those who are non-traditional minority students who must also work or support a family and tend to their needs, the options—and optimal solution—are easier in some ways: look for online MBA programs at accredited b-schools. These tend to be accommodating and readily accessible to all students, no matter what ethnicity. Their flexibility can ease the stress of the enrollment process and get you into your study program much more quickly. Check out Part 2 of our guide for more information on how online education works.

Financial Aid for Minorities

The golden child of financial aid, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), is still the largest provider of student financial aid in the country. It provides over $150 billion in grants, loans and work-study pay every year. There are criteria to be eligible, and students must be a U.S. citizen, be enrolled in an eligible program (this means accredited), and demonstrate financial need in order to qualify.

Depending upon your state of residence, the U.S. Department of Education hosts a database of financial aid resources that are offered by each state.

There are many financial aid resources available for minorities and which target unique groups and/or level of education achieved. For example, the NBMBAA Graduate Scholarship Program, offered by the National Black MBA Association, financially assists qualified business students who potentially make a great contribution to the field of business. This annual award is a scholarship (meaning you don’t need to pay it back) in the amount of $10,000, which could potentially pay for books and some of your tuition for a year of your two-year MBA program.

We’ve compiled a database of potential scholarships sources for you, to help ease the financial burden of paying for your MBA program. Keep reading below for more information.

Scholarships for Minorities

There are many groups, individuals and associations committed to helping talented minority students attain an MBA or earn a graduate degree in business. Though there are even more scholarships, fellowships and grants for minority students out there in fields such as engineering, nursing and healthcare, we’re focusing on those that offer assistance specifically for business or MBA students, and are limited to ethnicities, not the wider scope of women in business or people with disabilities.

Scholarships for Minority MBA/Business Students

National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) – National Scholarship Program

Available to African-American students and students of African descent enrolled in or accepted to a master’s-level business program.
Award amount: $1,500

National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) – Graduate Scholarships Program

Available to Black talent studying for an MBA to work in business in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Award amount: $1,000 – $10,000

University of Washington Foster School of Business – African American Heritage Endowed MBA Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to an African American grad student at the Foster School of Business.
Award amount: $7,500 – $10,000

Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) – Educational Foundation Minority Scholarships

This award is open to minority grad students with an accounting degree who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Award amount: $1,000

Executive Leadership Foundation – Award for Excellence in Business Commentary National Essay Competition

Essay contest open to African-American students currently enrolled in an MBA program. Requires submission of a 2000 to 3,000-word essay on a given business topic. Ten awards are given annually.
Award amount: $1,000 to $7,000, depending upon the essay contest winning order

American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) – Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

Available to minority students who are interested in a career in accounting.
Award amount: $5,000 per academic year, renewable

La Unidad Latina Foundation

To qualify for this scholarship, students must be enrolled in an accredited institution. Applicants in all bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are considered.
Award amount: $500 – $1,000

Association of Latino Professional for America (ALPFA) – National Scholarship Program

Applicants must be of Hispanic heritage, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited four-year school in the United States or a U.S. territory, and can be an undergraduate student or graduate student in a master’s degree program.
Award Amount: $1,500 – $10,000

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The HSF general college scholarships are for undergrad and graduate students, and you must have filled out the FAFSA, be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Legal Resident, and be enrolled full-time in an accredited grad school or university. You must also maintain a 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
Award amount: $500 – $5,000, based on need

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Scholarship

Eligibility requirements include full-time enrollment in an accredited educational institution within the U.S. or Puerto Rico, demonstrated financial need, and consistent active participation in public or community service.
Award amount: $5,000

University of Washington Foster School of Business – Ernest I.J. Aguilar Endowed MBA Scholarship

Candidates must be of Hispanic heritage and enrolled in a MBA program at the Foster Business School of the University of Washington in Seattle.
Award amount $7,500 to $10,000

National Society of Hispanic MBAs (Prospanica)

This scholarship is awarded annually to MBA students who are of Hispanic heritage, and are U.S. citizens and have an acceptable undergraduate GPA. You must already be enrolled in an accredited college or university MBA program when you complete your application.
Award amount: $5,000 – $10,000

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Students must be of Mexican American, Hispanic American, or Puerto Rican descent, and be able to demonstrate the need for financial assistance to continue their education into an advanced degree program. Eligibility depends on academic record, leadership ability, and record of service to the community. Funds awarded may be used for expenses of an MBA program.
Award amount: $5,000

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management

The Consortium awards scholarships to qualified minority MBA students enrolled in member institutions. These schools include Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, University of Texas at Austin, Emory, and Yale.
Award amount unknown

Catching the Dream Scholarship

Applicants must be one-quarter or more Native American and be an enrolled member of a U.S. tribe. Students must be either enrolled or must plan to attend an accredited U.S. college or university on a full-time basis, and awards are available to those earning from a bachelor’s degree to postdoctoral study.
Award amount: $500 – $5,000

American Indian College Fund – Full Circle Scholarship

Open to applicants pursuing a graduate degree in any area of study. Students must be American Indian/Alaska Native and demonstrate financial need. Awards are often based on merit. Students must complete a profile, application, and submit required documents.
Award amount: Up to $25,000

Catching the Dream – Tribal Business Management

Applicants must be at least one-quarter Native American (Alaska Native or American Indian), and planning to pursue an MBA in business, economics, finance, hospitality management, accounting, marketing or management. Along with the application, students need to submit proof of membership in a federally recognized tribe, letters of recommendation, an essay and transcripts. Awardees will hopefully earn an MBA in order to promote tribal development and management.
Award amount: $500 – $5,000

American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) – Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students 

Students must have earned a master’s degree or MBA and be of African American Hispanic or Native American ethnicity, and have applied to a doctoral program.
Award amount: $12,000

Asian Pacific Fund – Hsiao Memorial Economics Scholarship

Students must be pursuing a master’s degree or MBA in economics and be of at least 50 percent Asian heritage, with preference to students of Chinese descent. Scholarships are based upon financial need.
Award amount: $1,000

The Robert Toigo Foundation – Toigo MBA Fellowship

The fellowship provides minority MBA students and applicants committed to a career in finance with networking opportunities, career guidance, leadership training and a merit award.
Award amount: $2,500

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Scholarship

Applicants must be full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in a business related field at an accredited college or university. They must also possess a document of Tribal Enrollment (American Indian or Alaska Native) in order to qualify.
Award amount varies

Penobscot Nation Fellowship

Candidates must be members of the Penobscot Nation who are currently enrolled as an undergraduate senior or graduate student. Awards are determined by the Penobscot Nation Higher Education Committee.
Award amount: $750 per semester

The Lagrant Foundation Graduate Scholarships

Applicants must be a member of the designated minority/ethnic groups, which include African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander or Native American/Alaska Native. Candidates must be in pursuit of a master’s degree or MBA in advertising, marketing or public relations.
Award amount: $5,000


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