Diversity isn't just a buzzword: It's an important part of the learning environment in most B-school programs -- and could be the best way to get more minorities into top positions at companies. To increase the presence of minorities in the classroom (the average percentage at BusinessWeek's Top 30 schools is 9.6%), B-schools offer aid packages that range from $2,500 per year to full-tuition and living expenses.
So if you're African American, Hispanic, or Native American, there's an excellent chance that you'll receive some form of financial assistance from a top school. The other avenues for aid are foundations such as the National Black MBA Assn. (NBMBAA), the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), the Consortium of Graduate Study in Management (CGSM), and the Robert A. Toigo Foundation. Bear in mind that the CGSM and Toigo scholarships are reserved for applicants to schools that are members of these groups' alliances. Hence, if you haven't applied to those schools, you will be shut out of two of the most generous scholarship programs in business management.
A good place to start is by asking schools you might want to attend about their minority fellowships. Typically, these scholarships are based on need and merit. The Sloan School at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which at 14% has one of the higher percentages of minority students in the B-school world, doles out around 50 minority fellowships of $12,500 per year. Schools have also roped in corporations to sponsor minority scholarships. At Kellogg for example, where minorities represent 19% of the class, Chase Manhattan, Goldman Sachs, Kraft Foods, Citibank, and other corporate sponsors have contributed to the minority-scholarship fund. At Wharton, where 14.8% of the class of 2002 is minority, students can avail themselves of Henry E. Mitchell Fellowships, plus awards provided by corporations.
3,000 FULL RIDES. The CGSM, the NBMBAA, the NSHMBA, and the Toigo Foundation also offer a variety of aid packages based on need and merit. These typically require applicants to write essays and complete interviews to receive assistance ranging from $1,000 to full tuition. The CGSM, for example, a 12-school alliance, offers full tuition to one of its member schools, 11 of which are in BusinessWeek's Top 30 (UC-Berkeley Haas, Tuck at Dartmouth, Stern at NYU, Kenan-Flagler at UNC, UT-Austin, UVA-Darden, Kelley-IU, Simon at Rochester, Olin at Washington University, the University of Michigan, Marshall at USC, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison).
Since it began offering such aid in 1996, the CGSM has given 3,000 scholarships, thanks to help from U.S. businesses and the 12 member universities -- assistance that the CGSM contends has helped increase the number of minorities in managerial positions. The fellowship is merit-based, and the chances of getting one are pretty good. "We received 793 applications this year and we offered 313 fellowships," says CGSM Chief Operating Officer Barbara Jones. This year, 59.4% of the recipients are African American, 39% are Hispanic, and the rest are Native American.
CGSM applicants can rank up to six consortium schools in their order of preference on a single application. The CGSM sends the applications directly to each school. (UC Berkeley Haas, UT-Austin, and UNC's Kenan-Flagler, however, require you to complete their own application in addition to the consortium's.) Once you've been accepted to a school, the consortium considers you for a fellowship.
FUNDS FOR FINANCE MAJORS. Like any B-school application, the CSGM process emphasizes work experience, GMAT scores, and your grade-point average, and includes a personal interview, which is considered important. "I look for the future captains of industry," says Waldo Best, an alumnus of the CSGM and an interviewer, who works as an analyst for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. "We want the applicants to take a leadership role in the community."
The CSGM must receive your completed application form by Jan. 15 and fellowships are mailed out in early April. The only drawback is that you can't transfer the fellowship to another school in the consortium.
A similar program for minority students comes via the Toigo Foundation, which provides minority scholarships of up to $10,000 for students interested in pursuing careers in finance. The foundation aims to enable students to enter the financial-services industry unburdened by financial constraints. The foundation provides these scholarships to students enrolled in a 15-school alliance (Columbia, Cornell's Johnson, UC Berkeley's Haas, UCLA's Anderson, Northwestern's Kellogg, Wharton, Dartmouth's Tuck, Harvard, MIT's Sloan, the University of Chicago, Clark Atlanta University, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Emory's Goizueta, and the University of Texas-Austin). Interested students should indicate on their application their interest in Toigo Fellowships.
PERSONALITY CONTEST. Based on the applications it receives, the member school recommends students for fellowships, and representatives of the Toigo Foundation interview them. Fellowship aspirants are expected to demonstrate leadership and a keen interest in pursuing a career in the financial services industry, among other qualities.
The National Black MBA and the Hispanic MBA associations offer scholarships that often hinge more on the applicant's personality than his or her academic or work history. The NBMBAA offers stipends ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 a year to all ethnic minorities. If interested, you should contact the NBMBAA for an application in January and turn it in by Mar. 30. Applicants typically are selected based on extracurricular activities and a two-page essay (the topic changes every year). According to Robin Melton, communications manager of the NBMBBA, over 350 applicants applied in 2000, with 50 semi-finalists selected for telephone interviews. The association offered 35 scholarships after the interview process.
The NSHMBA's scholarship provides assistance to Hispanics who are either full- or part-time B-school students. The program takes into account financial need in awarding scholarships, which generally range from $2,000 to $5,000 (there's also one for $10,000). The application is standard fare once you have tackled the essay. Last year's topic was, "What are two main issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, and how can graduate management education help to solve them?" The deadline for applications is July 15, and you won't hear from the NSHMBA until mid-September. So don't count on one of these grants if you're thinking of starting B-school in the fall. Jayant Mathew in New York