Even as more women enroll in traditional, full-time MBA programs, getting more top business schools closer to the ever elusive goal of gender parity, that trend isn’t necessarily reflected in the top-ranked online programs.
In fact, smaller, lower-ranked online MBAs are more likely to have as many or more women enrolled than their male counterparts, according to an analysis of data from our latest ranking.
In our sixth ranking of online MBA programs released this week, the two schools with the highest percentage of women – Temple University’s Fox School of Business (58.4%) and University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business & Economics (54%) – ranked Nos. 38 and 40 respectively. Of the 15 schools with the highest percentage of women, nine ranked 35th or lower.
The University of Nebraska Lincoln had the lowest percentage of women (17.21%) of any school, despite ranking 15th overall. Clemson University, meanwhile, ranked 50th overall, but its latest class was 47% women.
WOMEN IN MBAs
Online MBAs from this year’s ranking report women candidates in percentages many traditional, two-year residential programs could still only dream about.
Women flocking to smaller online programs runs counter to the trend in traditional, residential MBA programs. Higher-ranked traditional MBAs tend to attract more women as applicants, and therefore enroll more as students. No.3-ranked The Wharton School, for example, was the first of the M7s to achieve gender parity in their flagship MBA programs for its Class of 2023 candidates, a feat it repeated for its 2024 class. (See The Leading Business Schools With The Most Women). Last November, the Forté Foundation, working to boost women participation in business education programs around the world, found that MBA participation lept to an all time high of 41%.
Meanwhile, in our online MBA ranking, the lower-ranked B-schools seem to have had no trouble drawing women applicants and enrolling them. These schools tend to have fewer GMAT requirements, are typically shorter than two-year residential programs, are much cheaper, and they offer more flexibility for working women who are also raising families – a barrier for some women to residential programs.
SCHOOLS THAT REACHED PARITY
Thirteen schools reached gender parity in their online programs this year, down slightly from 14 a year ago. But, only two top-15 programs hit the mark in our 2023 ranking: No. 9 Santa Clara University (Leavey) and No. 6 Jack Welch Management Institute. Just three other programs in the top 15 made it to at least 40% women in their latest cohorts: USC Marshall (47% women), University of Texas-Dallas (46%), and University of Washington (Foster) (45%).
PARITY GAINS AND LOSSES
Twenty-five programs lost ground on the percentage of women enrolled in their cohorts, and seven schools lost 10% or more: Creighton University dropped 26%, from a very respectable 60.9% in 2021 to 35.19% in 2022. University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Hofstra University each fell 13% from last year, Baylor University dropped 12%, and University of Utah (Eccles) fell 11%. Villanova School of Business and Bryant University each lost 10% from the prior year.
University of Michigan-Dearborn made up the most ground, enrolling 12% more women than last year – from 39% to 51%. University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, the first major U.S. business school to reach gender parity for its full-time MBA program in 2018, saw its percentage of women in its online program climb 9% to 47%, up from 38% in 2021 and 34% in 2020.
Three schools saw their percentage of women climb 6% – University of Washington (Foster), Louisiana State University (Ourso), and Temple University (Fox). And five schools raised the percentage by 5% – University of Delaware (Lerner), University of Texas-Dallas (Naveen Jindal), Washington State University, Ohio University, and University of Denver (Daniels).
See the next page for a table showing all the available data on women’s enrollment at the online MBA programs in Poets&Quants’ 2023 ranking.