Why Trump’s Election Is Good For International Business Schools

President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump

With the election of the most globally controversial candidate ever to the American presidency, the communities of higher educational institutions across the U.S. are digesting the consequences, with many schools reporting high levels of angst amongst students.

Business school communities were largely pro-Clinton, with a survey of HBS students showing 85% supporting Clinton and just 3% supporting Trump. Following the shock election results, university leaders have been sending out unprecedented messages to their students, feeling the need to reiterate their commitment to a non-discriminatory community, and to offer additional counseling services to those distressed by the result. There have been many protests at educational institutions across the country, with students sharing photos on social media using the hashtag #notmypresident. Large protests have been reported in Berkeley, LA and Boston. Faculty have also weighed in with their concerns about what a Trump presidency will mean, with Michigan Ross professors slamming Trump’s policies on trade and energy.

Trump loves to boast about Wharton being his alma mater, but the atmosphere on election night at the school was funereal.  MBA student Ghassan Khara said he was not a U.S. citizen, but aspires to become one. The dawn of a Trump presidency is worrying for “people like me who want to call America home”. He comes from a half-Christian half-Muslim family, “so I don’t fit into either category. What does that mean for me? He’s talking about a ban of all Muslims, which is crazy.”


While Trump has made some wild and sweeping claims about his future immigration policy, implementation details are at best sketchy, and major restrictions on immigration may prove hard to pull off. However, the divisive rhetoric of the Trump campaign is likely to unsettle and ultimately deter many business school applicants. As one Colombian MBA student at Harvard Business School put it, “Previously I thought I might want to stay in the U.S. for a couple of years before returning to my native Colombia. With Mr. Trump as president I will most definitely return right after my MBA. A sad day in the history of mankind…”

International students make up just more than half of the applicant pool to U.S. business schools, and typically about a third of the actual class at the top MBA programs. A survey by National Public Radio in October found that 60% of prospective international college students planning to study abroad said that they would be less likely to study in the U.S. if Trump were elected (compared to 4% if Hillary had won). Concerns about immigration issues were cited as a key factor. Some 80% of Mexican students reported that they would be less likely to study in the U.S. under a Trump presidency.

Harvard Business School students, anonymously sharing reactions to Trump’s win in the student newspaper, thought it could change their career plans.  “Thinking about HBS’ mission, we as HBS MBAs have a choice as to where we want to make a difference in the world. Tonight has made me reconsider my commitment to bringing good jobs back to U.S. manufacturing centers. Why would I want to help people that don’t recognize the dignity of my friends and loved ones? Shouldn’t I try to improve outcomes in places that don’t apparently hate what I stand for?”


For international candidates applying to business school now, starting a two-year MBA program in the fall of 2017 means graduating in the summer of 2019, with at least 18 months of the Trump presidency remaining. That leaves great uncertainty for foreign nationals about their ability to stay in the U.S. (assuming muslim students are even allowed to enter the country to start an MBA program).

Canadian programs will be sure to benefit, given the increasingly stark difference between immigration policies of the U.S. versus Canada. European programs stand to gain also; GMAC data on MBA applicant trends has picked up on the growing attractiveness of the international one-year programs at INSEAD, HEC Paris, IE, Oxford and Cambridge, amongst others.  Despite Brexit and weaker economic growth in Europe versus the US, many candidates are now reassessing their options. At Fortuna Admissions, since Tuesday morning, we have repeatedly heard from candidates that they are turning their attention to non-U.S. schools.

One French-American candidate told me: “I was back in California to vote… but let’s just say that given the election result, I will be looking for an MBA abroad.” Parents are also likely to raise questions about where their offspring should study. We have heard from a brilliant young woman in India who is interviewing with top US business schools that since the election her parents have forbidden her to study in the U.S

INSEAD, in particular, may benefit, as a top ranked program (number 1 in the full-time global MBA ranking of The Financial Times) that enables candidates to hedge their geographical bets. Campuses are located in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, and the graduating class disperses to take up jobs in over 50 countries each year; the school is therefore not dependent on a local recruitment market. Peter Zemsky, INSEAD’s Dean of Executive Education says, “as with the recent Brexit vote, the election of Trump in the U.S. is a powerful statement of growing nationalism.  INSEAD has always sought to serve as a platform for global understanding and bridge building; our mission is, sadly, more relevant than ever. We already have a significant number of students from the U.S. and we expect to reach out even more to that market given recent developments.” Ilian Mihov, dean of the school notes, “I think that not only from the U.S., but globally we may see an increase in applications to INSEAD as a result of the vote. Isolationism runs against the core values of INSEAD. We do not believe that creating barriers will lead to a better world.”

Trump in the White House gives non-U.S. schools a golden opportunity to attract some of the best and brightest international students who are no longer setting their sights on an MBA in the U.S., as well as American students who will see this as a perfect time to leave the country and ride out the potential storm for a couple years.

Caroline Diarte Edwards is a director with Fortuna Admissions

Caroline Diarte Edwards is a director with Fortuna Admissions

Caroline Diarte Edwards is a Co-Founder and Director of Fortuna Admissions. She was Director of Admissions, Marketing, and Financial Aid for the INSEAD MBA program from 2005 until 2012. She holds an MBA from INSEAD (2003) and is a graduate of the University of Cambridge


  • Teja

    thank you very much john for your prompt reply and i hope trump election wont change the situation of LGBTs’ in U.S.

  • Teja,

    Trump’s election is not indicative of the culture at American business schools which are wildly diverse, open and welcoming environments. The vast majority of the students at U.S. schools are pretty liberal and very progressive in their attitudes and thinking. They care about the environment and the world. They are not isolationists and they are not racists or homophobic. MBAs at several of the elite schools confess that they all live in something of a bubble, given our recent election results. That’s not totally true because many journalists have over-interpreted Trump’s victory to mean that the white working class of the U.S. has been so disenfranchised that they had the power to elect a Trump. Truth is, Hillary Clinton lost for at least a dozen reasons, from Obama’s decision to name a Republican as head of the FBI to strategy failures on the part of the Clinton campaign to spend too much time on fundraising and not enough time campaigning in key swing states. So don’t let Trump’s election scare you from pursuing your dream of an education in the U.S.

  • Teja

    Hi John

    provide insight on the situation of an LGBT from a country like india applying to US bschools

  • frankjaeger

    1 year ago I finally resigned from my old work and that decision was a lifechanger for me… I started to work online, for a company I stumbled upon over internet, few hours every day, and my income now is much bigger then it was on my office job… Payment i got for last month was for 9000 bucks… Great thing about this is that i have more free time with my family… CHILP.IT/8d93f4b

  • Wofoz

    Hi John,
    Thank you so much for your answer. Your point is very valid and reassuring.

  • I would not let Trump impact your plans or dreams to attend a top 10 U.S. school to get your MBA. I seriously doubt that there were would be any restrictions on student visas at all. Trump has said he is after illegal immigrants. The other thing to keep in mind is that there is little permanence in politics in the U.S. Chances are that if Trump follows through on many of his campaign promises, the reaction will be so severe that the Republicans will lose control of the Congress in two years and Trump might not even survive a full four-year term. Good luck to you!

  • Wofoz

    Hi John,

    Interesting topic. One question that I would love to know your insight:

    Let´s say I am an international applicant and I just want to get my MBA at a top 10 US business school but I am still not sure of whether I would like to keep working in the US after the program (meaning that the H1B visa is not really an issue to me, at least right now).

    So my doubt actually focuses in terms of the MBA application (prior to the program itself; not afterwards).

    My question is: Do you think there would be any problem with Student visas? In other words, do you think that Trump presidency could jeopardize international students in the US (regardless of whether they want to stay after the program)?

    (Just for the purpose of context: I am South American, with Italian citizenship)

    Thank you so much! Looking forward to your reply.

  • Tesla

    You are not allowed to bring trumpism to business schools discussions.

  • Wharton

    You said you are applying to rob MBA schools and listed Yale and Cornell? Phahahahah

  • radish

    well, rat wars website, the man is known for his controversial activities with lots of racism and links to KKK..etc.. all this naturally makes people worry about him!

  • Mohammed Ashgar

    Are you writing this to make sure your name is clean in the Muslims Database of Trump?

  • Mohammed Ashgar

    1) I’m applying to top MBA programs. I have been working in an international nonprofit organization and having an internationally-recognized MBA is the right move for my career path.

    2) You may google this.

    3) Yale MIT, and Cornell.

    Best regards,

  • God

    Mohammed is a dummy.

  • Wharton2017

    Tell us who the right people would be for the position. Seems like trump was getting bashed all year long for his “incompetent” choices, but won in the end. How do we know that you are unable to judge the competence of his decisions now?

  • radish

    appointing stephen bannon as chief strategist is an evidence for racism or incompetence in choosing the right people.

  • Wharton2017

    * treates everyone equally

  • Wharton2017

    Mohammed, respectfully please answer these questions:

    1) why do you need an MBA from the US and not from your own country which everyone equally?
    2) Do you have any evidence of bigotry and racism in what trump was saying?
    3) what schools did you plan to apply in the US before trump got elected?


  • MohamCrimson

    This is the reason Democrats will always lose. Instead of acknowledging the facts of the election they are quick to ascribe racism as the main driver of Trump’s rise to prominence. As a muslim Democrat, I realize the reason Trump won was because people were hungry for change after 8 years of broken promises and bad economic growth.

    I am not afraid at all, anyone that says they are were just blinded by the media. He grew up in NYC he isn’t that unreasonable.

  • MuslimMBA

    Mohammed Ashgar – I am a Muslim and voted for Trump. You are delusional if you think that only racists and bigots voted for Trump, because of his policies to protect Americans from illegal immigrants and inflow of religious fanatics.

    You don’t seem to be the brightest, so I am glad the American b-schools will be able to avoid having such an ignorant person.

    Also, are you an American applying to Intl b-schools? Otherwise I have no idea why you think you can comment on American politics.

  • I completely agree here and you need to remember that the university campus in the U.S. is typically a very liberal and progressive place, very different in every way than some of the cities and towns in the U.S. that have lost a lot of manufacturing jobs and are hurting.

  • Let me assure you that many people who voted for Trump are not racists or bigots. Some simply felt more dramatic change was necessary in Washington. Some voted on an issue, such as abortion, a smaller government, illegal immigration, or globalization. And some Republicans just held their nose and voted for him out of loyalty to their party.

  • Sandy is the real Bernie Sanders!

  • RRK850

    The good thing about Trump win is that age is no longer a problem. Now even Sandy can hope to be president someday !

  • emad

    which programs did you apply for? Looks like you are good for Cornell AMBA 🙂

  • emad

    If I were you, I won’t be worrying. with 710 GMAT you will be able to land good MBA program, such as Cornell, Duke, Darden, or Berkeley. with good amount of scholarship. followed by job with good company in Canada! why not? it is just 48 months and all these things will finish. Electing trump is the last move of the old baby boomer generation. After that it is the millennials that will define the whole new world.

  • Mohammed Ashgar

    Quite frankly, what I found troubling isn’t the Presidancy of Trump himself but the fact that he was supported by more than 59 million voters. I used to think that racism and bigotry are represented by a small group in the USA. However, this election showed us that this group is way bigger than what we anticipated.

    As an international MBA applicant, I want to make sure that I will end up living (during the program or after) in a safe and welcoming environment. The US, unfortunately, is no longer that place.

  • RRK850

    I strongly believe that there will be no major change. Globalization and multi national corporate are almost impossible to reverse course. Mr Trump knows certainly that it is hard to deliver any of his radical promises. The idea is that he kept shouting these weird statements to attract angry voters.

  • zimzammmm

    or it will result in tuition price drops, which is good for American students

  • Ferdinand

    I think spanish schools IE and IESE are the ones that will benifit the most.

  • Fernie

    Come one guys, get it together: Columbia is the NY-based University, Colombia is the country; Colombians are from the country Colombia, and I doubt the term Columbian even exists (e.g. Whartonian)!? I have noticed this error a few times in your website.

  • C. Taylor

    Don’t let anyone kid you–it is all about the jobs.

    If a Great America means better visa prospects in the US than in the UK and EU–as historically has been the case–then nothing will change. In particular, visa prospects in the UK–the largest job market for elite MBA holders outside the US–are a factor to watch.

  • Duy N Pham

    Jose: Don’t you even read the tittle? It’s good for international business schools because many international students will not coming to the US, but they will come to other international business schools out side the US.

  • That is, indeed, the point. The H1B visa issue was discouraging for many international MBA students. Trump’s election makes many feel less than welcome so more international applicants are likely to explore other non-U.S. options in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The author also believes that some U.S. students might want to wait out a Trump administration by taking an MBA in Europe. One of the interesting issues here is the future of globalization and it’s impact. Globalization is a core tenet of business school teaching and a fact of life that is impossible to reverse. Trump’s election and Brexit both are populist reactions against globalization and, therefore, a critical part of the MBA doctrine.

  • yep

    I think thats the point. International schools (those outside of the US) should see an uptick in applications if people are less interested in studying in the US

  • Jose

    So, why is it good? I wanted to study in US. Now I don’t