A typical MBA classroom looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago. And that’s certainly true at Maryland Smith, where more and more MBA students are women, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).
Helping to drive that change are Smith’s growing slate of accessible and flexible MBA programs, Maryland Smith Interim Dean Ritu Agarwal said in a recent interview with Washington Business Journal.
“Our full-time and part-time MBA programs attracted more diverse candidates who may be juggling full-time jobs and childcare in addition to class. Flexibility on how one goes back to school to get a business degree is a major market demand,” Agarwal said. With more candidates needing to support their families while advancing their careers, the soon-to-be-launched Flex MBA makes a top business school MBA more accessible than ever, leading the way to a more diverse cohort each year.
This year, Maryland Smith increased its underrepresented minority overall MBA student population to 35%, from 24% in 2019. The proportion of women in the program, meanwhile, held steady at 41% year-over-year.
Agarwal said the number of BIPOC and female students across Smith’s various MBA programs has been steadily climbing for several years.
The progress stems from an active effort that includes partnerships with the Forté Foundation, National Black MBA Association, National Hispanic MBA Association and historically Black colleges and universities. Additionally, the business school runs summer high school programs tailored specifically to reach BIPOC students.
“I don’t think as a business school we are doing our job or executing on our mission if we are not training the type of leaders and workforce that organizations need,” Agarwal told the Business Journal. “We’ve put in place practices that help us get the most diverse and talented student population.”
A fall 2020 Forté Foundation study cited Maryland Smith among its member schools as “best business schools for women” – representing top MBA programs in the United States, Europe and Canada, according to "Female Representation In MBA Classrooms Better Than Ever In 2020."
“A record eight of these schools reported 45% or more women were enrolled in their 2020 MBA programs.”
Officials credit Smith’s robust lineup of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and programs aimed at helping women remove barriers as key elements in providing sustainable recruitment and diverse representation of MBA students at Maryland Smith.