Elite LGBT MBAs At All-Time High

Outside the Wharton School on the University of Pennsylvania campus - Ethan Baron photo

Outside the Wharton School on the University of Pennsylvania campus – Ethan Baron photo

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriages nationwide in June, more self-identifying out students have enrolled in elite MBA programs than ever before. For the past three years, Reaching Out MBA, a nonprofit and the leading organization for LGBT MBA students, has produced a “State of the LGBT Equality in Business Schools” report. Campus LGBT clubs and admissions offices at the schools self-report the raw data. This year, elite MBA programs have an average of 3.46% of out self-identifying students–up from 2.94% last year and 2.7% the year before.

“There was actually a big jump this year,” says Matt Kidd, the executive director Reaching Out MBA. “I was expecting it to be a little up but more or less, flat. But to see a half-percentage jump was pretty significant to us. And we were excited to see that.”

Kidd believes the national discussion around marriage equality has brought more comfort to out students. Additionally, Kidd, who holds an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business, says the creation of the Reaching Out MBA Fellowship last year has led to more schools “actively trying to recruit more out students” into their programs.


In terms of raw data, no other school has more out LGBT club members than The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. According to the report, Wharton has 830 out students and allies associated with it’s LGBT club, Out4Business. Of course, Wharton’s student population is large, but the percentage of self-identifying out MBA students is 4.07%, slightly above the global average and on-par with other elite MBA programs.

Columbia Business School’s Cluster Q club is the second-largest with 664 active members. Columbia also has an out self-identifying MBA population of 4.15% of the larger overall student body. The third largest club, and perhaps most impressive considering its program size, is Q@Haas, at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Haas also boasts a self-identifying out population of 4.8%.

However, in terms of percentages of self-identifying out students, the University of Massachusetts’ Isenberg School of Management tops the list at 6.67%. The caveat for Isenberg, of course, is the smaller LGBT club compared to other schools. Yale’s School of Management, for instance, has the highest percentage (5.50%) with a substantial amount of club members (56). Three major California schools–Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, UC Berkeley’s Haas and the UCLA Anderson School of Management–take the next three spots in percentages, respectively.