Blacks at the Nation's Top-Ranked Business Schools: Enrollments Are Down But Graduation Rates Are Almost PerfectOverall enrollments in the nation's business schools are down sharply. Black enrollments at many of the nation's top business schools have also declined. But there are notable exceptions. The good news is that almost all blacks who enroll in the nation's top business schools go on to graduate. This pretty much puts the lie to the current hypothesis that blacks at leading graduate schools are failing because they are mismatched with their white peers and that they would be better served enrolling in second- or third-tier schools.
In the late 1990s, a booming economy produced major increases in business school enrollments. Then the dot-com bubble burst. Corporate scandals at Enron and other firms took the luster off a career in business. The nation proceeded to drop into a recession. The economic damage was greatly compounded by the severe shock of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
As a result, enrollments at the nation's business schools have been in a tailspin for the past several years. The Graduate Management Admis-sion Council reports that 78 percent of its member schools showed a drop in applications in 2003, the second year of steep declines. "It was the toughest year that I've ever experienced in the recruitment of MBAs," Brian Lohr, senior associate director of admissions at the business school at the University of Notre Dame, told the Indianapolis Star.
For blacks there is a similar story. Blacks have experienced major declines in enrollments at some of the nation's leading business schools over the past several years. Once again, JBHE has surveyed the nation's 25 highest-ranked business schools to determine the racial makeup of their student bodies. Of the 28 highest-ranked business schools in the nation, nine schools declined to provide information on the racial makeup of their student bodies to the JBHE research department. Business and other graduate schools are sensitive about disclosing racial statistics. State-operated institutions are concerned that they will be subject to litigation if they are perceived as giving major racial preferences to blacks and other minorities. Private business schools worry that conservative alumni could reduce their contributions to their alma maters if they believe that blacks and other minorities are receiving admissions preferences. Also, some of the schools that did not respond to our survey are probably not proud of their records in providing access to business school education to African Americans.
Nineteen of the nation's highest-ranked business schools did provide data to JBHE. Of the reporting schools, Stanford University had the highest percentage of black enrollments. Blacks are 6.2 percent of the 754 students enrolled at the business school this year. The business school at Ohio State University ranks second with a student body that is 5.9 percent black.
Surprisingly, the Anderson School of Management at UCLA ranks a high third in our survey despite the fact that, due to state law, race cannot be taken into account during the admissions process. At its upstate rival, the Haas business school at the University of California at Berkeley, which also is prohibited from using race in its admissions decisions, blacks are only 1.4 percent of all students. Only the University of Texas has a lower percentage of black students among the top-ranked business schools. Here, too, until the current year, admissions at the University of Texas, were required to be strictly race neutral.
The black percentage of students enrolling at the nation's leading business schools generally comes in far below the percentage of black student enrollments at the nation's leading law and medical schools. In part this may be a reflection of the perception of limited opportunities for blacks in high-level corporate management. Despite some remarkable breakthroughs in recent years such as Richard Parsons at Time Warner, Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch, and Kenneth Chenault at American Express, African Americans still hold a minuscule percentage of high-ranking corporate executive positions. Many high-achieving black college students see careers in law and medicine as paths they can take not only to achieve personal success but also to "make a difference" in one's contribution to society. But students in this group see a far more difficult road ahead in trying to crack the "old-boy" network in the business world that still rules much of the banking, venture capital, and business culture of corporate America.
Trends in Black Enrollments
In view of the impact of the economic downturn and bans on affirmative action admissions in some states, it is useful to compare this year's survey results to past JBHE surveys. This is a good measure of black progress in business school enrollments. Of the 14 top business schools for which we have data for both 1999 and 2005, we find that black enrollments increased at six schools and declined at eight schools. As stated earlier, we suspect that black enrollments also declined at most, if not all, of the top business schools that chose not to respond to our survey.
The largest percentage increase was at the School of Management at Yale University. There, black enrollments have almost doubled over the past six years, rising from 12 to 23. There have also been significant increases in black enrollments at the business schools at Ohio State, the University of North Carolina, Stanford University, and Dartmouth College.
Of the eight business schools that showed declines in black enrollments, the largest percentage drop was at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. Black enrollments have dropped 50 percent from 14 in 1999 to 7 today. It is important to explain the reason for the long-term decline in black enrollments at the business school at Berkeley. Prior to 1996 the Haas school was permitted to take race into account as a positive factor in the admissions process. In 1994, 5 percent of the students at the Haas business school were black. Today blacks are only 1.4 percent of the students at the school.
Decreases in black enrollments greater than 30 percent also occurred in the MBA programs at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Texas, Indiana University, Purdue University, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan.
Racial Differences in Acceptance Rates
In our survey JBHE also asked the deans of the leading business schools for information on the number of blacks who applied to their schools and the number of blacks who were accepted. We also asked the deans to supply us with admissions data for all applicants regardless of race. Thirteen of the nation's leading business schools supplied admissions data.
The Kenan-Flagler School of Business at the University of North Carolina had the highest black student acceptance rate of any of the business schools responding to our survey. Nearly 59 percent of all black applicants to the school were accepted. At least one half of all black applicants were accepted for admission at the business schools at Ohio State University and the University of Washington.
The lowest black student acceptance rate was at the highly regarded Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. There, only 27, or 18.4 percent, of the 147 black applicants were accepted for admission.
At eight of the 13 business schools in our survey the acceptance rate for black students was higher than the overall acceptance rate. In most cases the racial differences were very small.
Black Student Graduation Rates
On average, black students routinely score significantly lower than white students on the Graduate Management Admission Test. Therefore, it is correctly assumed by many observers that in order to diversify their student bodies, many of the nation's leading business schools give admissions preferences to black applicants. Many conservative scholars believe that these black students would be better off enrolling at second- or third-tier predominantly white business schools or at the many MBA programs at historically black universities. The reasoning is that black students would be better able to compete with their fellow students at these institutions and go on to complete their MBAs.
But data collected by JBHE shows that this reasoning is completely unsound. Blacks admitted to the nation's leading business schools graduate at very high rates, in many cases equal to or surpassing the rate of their white peers. Eighteen of the nation's highest-ranked business schools supplied graduation rate data to the JBHE research department. Of these 18 leading business schools, 13 reported a black student graduation rate of 100 percent. At all but one school the black graduation rate was 92 percent or higher. At eight of the 18 schools in our survey the black student graduation rate was higher than the rate for white students.
Black Faculty at the Nation's Leading Business Schools
Before we conclude our analysis of blacks at the nation's leading business schools, it is important to examine the number of blacks who hold teaching positions at these institutions. There are 11 black faculty members at the business school at the University of Texas. Stanford has six black faculty members. There are five black business school professors at Georgetown University and at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
There are no black faculty members at the business school at the University of California at Berkeley. There is only one black faculty member each at the business schools at the University of Minnesota, the University of Southern California, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
The University of Texas has the highest percentage of black faculty among the leading business schools at 6.8 percent. Therefore, among the top business schools, Texas has the highest percentage of black faculty members but the lowest percentage of black students.
Georgetown and Stanford are the only other business schools that responded to our survey at which blacks make up at least 5 percent of the total faculty. At Dartmouth and the University of Michigan blacks are at least 4 percent of the faculty. Thirteen of the highest-ranked business schools have a black percentage of their total faculty that stands at less than 3 percent.
There are 22 black faculty members at these 19 business schools who hold tenure. This is an average of slightly over one black tenured business school professor per school.
There are five blacks with tenure at the University of Texas. All three black faculty at the University of Washington business school hold tenure. Three of the five black faculty at the Wharton School are tenured. Seven of the 19 business schools that responded to our survey have no black tenured faculty. They are the business schools at Columbia, MIT, Stanford, the University of Minnesota, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and Yale.