Diversity Insights: Underrepresented Populations

November 2021


This brief compiles data and analysis from the mba.com Prospective Students Survey, plus GMAT test taker data and external sources to illustrate what makes candidates from US Underrepresented populations distinct- from where they live, to when they being the school search, to their motivations and their career goals- all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The data is presented in aggregate as a way to highlight underrepresented populations and offer comparative data for non-underrepresented populations (non-URP) referring to US citizens identifying among racial or ethnic groups including Asian Americans, White (non-Hispanic) and others. Understanding this data landscape will help schools plan their recruitment efforts and create measure of success for their institutions.

This brief is the final in the 2021 series which includes specific reports on Black/African Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans

Quick Facts

  • By 2045, the US population as a whole is expected to become majority-minority, meaning more than half of all Americans will belong to a racial minority group (any group other than non-Hispanic White alone). For graduate business schools, the drop in traditional student categories coupled with shifting demographics intensify the need to better understand URPs as prospective student applicants for GME.

  • Post GME expectations expressed by more than one third of URP (as well as non-URP) were: obtain a senior level or executive position, get a job with a different company, change job functions/occupation, and manage projects. A slightly greater percentage of URP is interested in working for a company where they can travel internationally when compared with non-URP respondents (29% URP vs. 24% non-URP).

  • Nearly 1 in 5 unique URP GMAT examinees were social science majors (18%), while others majored in engineering (10%), science (6%), and humanities (5%).

  • URP candidates do not typically refer to published rankings as much as non-URP counterparts (36% URP vs. 48% non-URP). On the other hand, URP candidates are also consulting third party sources more so than others about business school, including: admissions consultants (20% URP vs. 13% non-URP), virtual business school fairs (19% vs. 13%), and social networking sites (23% vs. 20%).

  • Segmentation analysis of student motivations reveals that about 1 in 4 URP candidates surveyed in 2020 align with the profile of a Respect Seeker when compared with candidates from non-underrepresented populations in the US. By age, this holds up among URP talent aged 31 and older. However, among URP age groups of 24 and younger as well as aged 24 to 30, perhaps not surprisingly, the profile of Socio-economic Climber is the most common among URP talent.