The Most Diverse Business Schools

INSEAD's campus in Fontainebleau, France

INSEAD’s campus in Fontainebleau, France

The MBA Programs With The Most Diverse Classes

Most MBAs want to interact with students from different backgrounds. If you’re an ambitious marketer, you’ll naturally gravitate towards quants. As the saying goes, you learn as much from your peers as your professors in business school. And spending time around those who complement your weaknesses can only beef up your skill sets.

These days, business is truly a global enterprise. Finance may be the language of business. If you work overseas – and you will if you aspire to leadership – you’ll need to master the native language and customs. And it’s far easier absorbing them at b-school than fumbling your way through them on the job.

That’s one reason why many MBAs choose overseas programs – to expose themselves to the cultural nuances of students worldwide. From sharing food to making conversation, students can gain self-awareness by interacting with a diverse student population. Just as important, they can build a network who can them navigate through ‘how things really work.’

This week, Business Insider released a ranking of the “25 Most Diverse Business Schools” from Based on online surveys with over 10,000 current and former graduate business students, used a 1-10 scale (with 1 being lowest and 10 being highest) to measure how “diverse” they felt their programs were. Mind you, the article didn’t define “diverse” – a loaded term that could cover everything from nationalities to viewpoints (Poets&Quants is assuming the former). If you’re seeking a culturally immersive experience beyond the usual case studies and modeling, here are some schools to consider.

INSEAD earned the highest mark with a near perfect 9.89. Based in France – with campuses also located in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, INSEAD is truly an international school. According to the Financial Times, 94 percent of its students – and 90 percent of its faculty are international. Even 85 percent of the school’s board hails from overseas. No wonder the school dubs itself as “The business school for the world” (even if English is the school’s main language for instruction).

Aside from being the b-school equivalent to the melting pot, INSEAD is also an academic powerhouse. It ranked second (behind the London Business School) in Poets&Quants’ rankings of the top international MBA program. And it tied for fourth place with Stanford on the Financial Times’ most recent global MBA rankings.

Finishing second – by just .04 of a point –is Spain’s IE Business School. Like INSEAD, this school enrolls a high percentage of international students – 91 percent to be exact according to the Financial Times. The school even points out that it has enrolled students from over 70 countries.  In addition, 58 percent of its faculty come from abroad, while women comprise 37 percent of its faculty.

So why does this one year program draw so many students from overseas? For one, the curriculum has a strong entrepreneurial bent, attractive to students looking to launch businesses with a global footprint. What’s more, the school offers a wide range of graduate business degrees, providing students with flexibility and greater in-depth exploration of particular specializations.

Rounding out the top three is ESADE in Barcelona with a 9.81 score. Here, 96 percent of students and 87 percent of the board come from overseas, though the faculty is more local with just 38 percent international representation.

Among American graduate business programs, California State University of Los Angeles is considered the most diverse by readers, finishing fourth with a 9.80 score. Here, international students comprise 62.6 percent of the MBA student body. However, Yale, which is increasingly considered by some to have “the most distinctly global U.S. business school” curriculum, rounded out the top five with international students encompassing 44 percent of the student population. In terms of diversity, Purdue, Georgia State, Stanford, and Columbus also made the top 10 ranking.

Here are the top 25 programs for diversity according to’s survey data:

Diversity table


Source: Business Insider

  • JohnAByrne

    The school on the list is NOT UCLA Anderson which certainly does not enroll 63% of its students from outside the U.S. We are simply curating other business school news here. identified California State and not UCLA for this list. By the way, I do not consider this very positive news. U.S. business schools with high percentages of international students–which is hardly my definition of what a diverse class really is–are typically schools that aren’t good enough to attract qualified domestic candidates. A truly diverse class largely takes into account the educational and work experience backgrounds of students as well as the gender of students–not what country they come from which could be an element of a diverse class but does not define diversity.

  • Kathi Chandler-Payatt

    P&Q – can you please issue a correction? As TSHEA wrote below CSULA is not the same as UCLA Anderson.


    UCLA Anderson is not California State University at Los Angeles. CSULA is a totally different school.