It’s November 2024 And Donald Trump Has Been Reelected. How Do B-Schools Respond?

Donald Trump could find his way back to the White House in 2025. What would that mean for graduate business education in the U.S. — and worldwide?

Donald Trump’s term as president of the United States was not exactly a golden age for business education — nor, for that matter, just about any other sector of society. Let’s just say Trump’s single term started shaky and didn’t end well.

For U.S. business schools seeking to attract international talent to their MBA and other programs (particularly those in the middle- and lower-tier), it was an especially difficult time given the former president’s acute antipathy for all forms of immigration. Now, as the U.S. enters the summer of another presidential election year, polls show that a Trump return to the White House is a distinct possibility. If he defeats incumbent Joe Biden this November, what would a second Trump term mean for business education in the U.S. — and around the world?

B-schools aren’t likely to break their diplomatic silence on the prospect of Trump’s return to power, so Poets&Quants asked some of the world’s leading MBA admissions consultants: What would it mean for international students looking to study in the U.S. if Trump gets the opportunity to realize his party’s vision of a walled-off America? What would it mean for U.S. business schools’ efforts to diversify their MBA and other classes’ domestic cohorts, if the catalyst of the Supreme Court’s June 2023 dismantling of affirmative action were to once again control the levers of power? What other impacts — immediate and long-term — could we expect from of Trump Part Two?


Most of the 10 top admissions consultants contacted by P&Q for this story said they believe the overall impact of a Trump reelection would be harmful to the U.S. economy and the country’s long-term economic and cultural interests. And that’s just for starters.

“What companies will NOT be founded here in the U.S.?” says Bill Kooser, director at Fortuna Admissions and former associate dean at Chicago Booth School of Business. “What great scientific discoveries won’t happen? What will U.S. students lose from not having an understanding or connection to those from around the world?”

B-schools would be hit particularly hard, says Paul Bodine, founder and president of Admitify: “A Trump reelection would weaken American business schools by forcing them to focus more on U.S. applicants as international applicants look elsewhere. This would potentially weaken their brands vis-à-vis non-U.S. competitors in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.”

Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, says in the event of a Trump victory in the fall, B-schools will likely respond the way they did to the SCOTUS decision in 2023 knocking down affirmative action in college admissions. “Policies across the board will change and some of them very quickly,” she says.

But not all the effects of a Trump re-election would be negative, says Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted. “If application volume declines,” she says, “expect schools to compete more for students whom they really want to admit. They will spend more effort and scholarship dollars wooing admits and trying to maintain their yield.”


Stacy Blackman: In the event of a Trump win in the fall, “We expect schools to prepare for the realities of changing visa restrictions, uncertain international demand, increasing regulatory scrutiny, and even the advancement of anti-affirmative action and anti-diversity endeavors, by building mechanisms to try to stay true to their missions”

Stacy Blackman, founder and CEO of Stacy Blackman Consulting, says the U.S. president sets the tone for how the country is perceived both domestically and internationally. “There is no question,” she says, “that leadership at the highest level will influence and trickle down to all facets of American life, including college education.

“Should Trump be reelected this November, the main threat would be the visa system becoming more restrictive, as it was in his previous presidential administration, thereby discouraging some international students from pursuing graduate education in the U.S. We would expect a Trump presidential administration to make internationals feel less welcome.”

International demand for U.S. education at the graduate level still has not fully recovered to pre-Trump levels, Blackman notes, dampened by the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the struggling international economies that have resulted. Exchange rates and employer willingness to sponsor employee visas for full-time employment are also factors, she says, that “have influenced U.S. college demand among internationals in recent years, even under the Biden administration.”

Yet these elements “will still be at play regardless of who becomes president,” Blackman tells Poets&Quants. “More important than who is at the top of the U.S. government as it relates to graduate school demand is what employers and companies in the U.S. are doing with respect to hiring and layoffs and the supply-and-demand balance of labor. If there is a strong need for employers to acquire specialized talent and those employers can only find that among the international talent pool, the visa hurdles can be surmountable. International students look to U.S. graduate education as a pathway to employment, and that should be the goalpost more so than any policy shifts expected by President Trump.”


Blackman says a second major implication of a Trump presidential administration that is far more acute given the current turmoil in the Middle East: “the likelihood that a Trump administration will aim to shift the rhetoric across college campuses, both at the college and graduate levels, so colleges are less liberal-skewed and more representative of a range of viewpoints. These regulations are going to influence college culture (the very delicate balance between free speech/expression and making students feel safe in an educational environment); but given that MBA student classes have historically always been fairly balanced, including many students who are capitalists in mindset (not heavily social justice liberal leaning), the MBA will be less affected by any regulatory changes than other graduate programs such as law or public policy grad schools. We expect that President Trump is going to exert heavy influence on regulatory agencies and dangle the tax benefits that universities receive as a way to advance his agenda of balance on college campuses, affecting all levels: faculty, research, and student admissions.

“By then, however, we expect a resurgence in the traditional industries of consulting and banking, which have both endured difficult layoffs and business issues in recent years. Once those traditional industries rebound and possibly tech and media too along with emerging areas (artificial intelligence), we expect a thriving hiring and U.S. economy to offset any negative realities that a Trump political administration could create for grad education.

“We expect schools to prepare for the realities of changing visa restrictions, uncertain international demand, increasing regulatory scrutiny, and even the advancement of anti-affirmative action and anti-diversity endeavors, by building mechanisms to try to stay true to their missions. Specifically, we see this with the affirmative action decision that came down from the Supreme Court — in reality, no noticeable change with respect to the diversity and underrepresented minority student breakdown in top business programs has taken place, if comparing minority student representation then and now based on class profiles. Universities are usually able to course-correct as they have systems in place internally.”

Next page: Thoughts & predictions about a Trump return from consultants at Fortuna, Accepted, and more.

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