Black Students Just Five Percent of HBS Class

September 3, 2015
Russell Schaffer

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Diversity remains low at HBS and other elite Boston MBA programs.

Why are black students so underrepresented in Boston-area MBA programs? What’s the best way to counter business school application burnout? Has HBS become the program of choice for fashion entrepreneurs? Let’s get to the bottom of these questions and more in our latest roundup of MBA news. Leave your comments below… please.

Boston-area MBA programs attract few black students

You won’t find very many big cities in the United States that boast quite as much variety in business education as Boston. Some of the world’s top MBA programs are located within or nearby the metropolitan area, including Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Wellesley, and Babson. The one unfortunate thing these programs share, however, is a lack of student diversity. Just five percent of MBA students at HBS last year were African-American, according to statistics. At MIT Sloan, black students made up only four percent of its most recently graduated class. The good news is that Boston’s elite MBA programs are starting to recognize this trend as a problem, and many have assigned program directors to recruiting qualified applicants from a more diverse pool and building a more inclusive environment. Some experts attribute the underrepresentation of black students to lingering bad memories of the 1970s, when Boston gained a reputation for being unfriendly to African-Americans. (The Boston Globe)

Kenan-Flagler’s incoming class

In last week’s blog entry, as you remember, we featured a story about the dean of UNC Kenan-Flagler, who discussed the school’s efforts to recruit more female applicants in future classes. Now, let’s take a look at the newest Kenan-Flagler cohort itself. Some data points to consider: Over the last three academic years, the number of applications to the full-time MBA program has jumped from approximately 1,500 to nearly 2,400—the biggest shift in 15 years. Meanwhile, the school’s acceptance rate has plummeted from 45% to 34%, making the school that much more competitive. (Poets & Quants)

Beware of business school application burnout

Applying to business school is a stressful process. Among the major contributors of stress for many applicants is not budgeting enough time to put together all the pieces of the MBA application. At Kaplan Test Prep, we suggest that aspiring MBAs map out an entire year to plan for this process—from preparing for your GMAT, to gathering your letters of recommendation (which can feel like herding cats), to narrowing down your school choices. Still, even with sufficient time, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders as a business school candidate. Two other helpful tactics to unburden yourself include the following: 1) Buddy-up with a friend for mutual support. 2) Don’t overload yourself with information. Choose your online resources sparingly. (U.S. News & World Report)

HBS unlikely hotbed for fashion entrepreneurs

Harvard Business School is emerging as an unlikely place for fashion entrepreneurs. When you think of HBS, you probably think button-down—not catwalk couture. Thanks to some successful fashion startups and a group of enthusiastic faculty members, the top-ranked business school is now getting props for churning out some of the most successful professionals in the fashion business, including Rent The Runway’s Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, both graduates of HBS. (

Motivational business school soundtrack

One great way to help keep yourself motivated in any circumstance is to listen to your favorite tune. Sometimes the beat or lyrics can inspire you to do your best—or even just lift you out of a funk. With that in mind, some of Kaplan’s music connoisseurs have put together a list of songs that can help you through the MBA admissions process and during those late night study sessions during business school. Among the favorites: “Stronger” by Kanye West and “Be Prepared” from “The Lion King.” Trust us, it’s a fun playlist—cue the GMAT study ‘80s workout montage. (Uloop)

Feeling motivated yet? Kick your business school candidacy into shape with our free 20-minute GMAT workout.


Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer Russell Schaffer is Kaplan Test Prep's senior communications manager. Russell is responsible for helping lead our external media relations efforts, including speaking with reporters and bloggers on a regular basis about Kaplan's proprietary research and products. Russell also helps craft the surveys we regularly administer of students, advisers​,​ and admissions officers. The data collected helps guide the hundreds of thousands of students and parents Kaplan works with every year by giving them accurate and up-to-date information ​about​ the landscape. Russell is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where he received his BA in political science and MA in communications.

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