Unpacking the Appeal of For-Profit Graduate Business Programs to Underrepresented Populations

This white paper details a study conducted by GMAC in partnership with marketing strategy firm globalsojourn to learn more about the URP recruitment success of for-profit GME programs and what possible implications may be for nonprofit programs in their efforts to increase diversity in their applicant pools.

June 2018


An area of graduate management education (GME) that has excelled at attracting underrepresented populations (URPs) is the for-profit sector, including programs at nationally-known brands like the University of Phoenix, Strayer University, and Capella University.

To learn more about their URP recruitment success, GMAC partnered with marketing strategy firm globalsoujurn to learn more about URP for-profit GME prospects, students, and graduates, what aspects of for-profit GME they find most appealing, and what possible implications may be for nonprofit GME programs in their efforts to diversify their applicant pools. The study, which included qualitative and quantitative phases, took place between June and September 2017 and included a total of 400 US citizens or permanent residents of underrepresented populations.

Quick Facts

  • For-profit GME programs understand their target URP candidates and do a very effective job of positioning their programs to maximize their appeal to URP candidates. Specifically, they highlight their program flexibility, a quality education to boost their career from instructors with relevant experience, and an easy application and admissions process.
  • Study respondents largely view the overall quality and costs of for-profit programs as at parity with nonprofit programs. For-profit URP candidates do not differentiate between nonprofit and for-profit programs from a quality and brand perspective.
  • In addition to providing schools with recommendations, the paper also highlights best practices examples of non-profit program URP engagement from UC Berkeley and Vanderbilt.