Above: (l-r) Rachel Bruce, Kendyl Churchman and Insha Jahan are among the more than 30 female students in the MBA program.
Bloomberg Businessweek has recognized the College of Charleston School of Business MBA program for its success in enrolling female students at a time when MBA programs nationally are struggling to recruit women.
The College’s one-year MBA program took the top spot in the inaugural Bloomberg Businessweek Best B-Schools Diversity Index with 66% of its students being female. Overall, the index revealed that women made up less than 40% of students at the 84 nationally ranked MBA programs. Only five MBA programs on the list reached parity between male and female students or better. At 27 schools women made up one-third or less of the cohort of MBA students.
Ron Magnuson, director of MBA and professional programs for CofC’s School of Business, says a key factor in the MBA program’s success in recruiting and enrolling female students is that it’s open to students with a variety of undergraduate degrees rather than requiring applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in business or related fields.
“We don’t scare away students who have an undergraduate degree that may not be quantitative or in business,” says Magnuson. “We work to be more inclusive in terms of our applicants’ backgrounds and welcome those with nonbusiness degrees or no relevant work experience.”
“We understand the benefits of a liberal arts curriculum and how that can be of benefit to students in a professional program like the MBA,” adds Seaton Brown ’09, director of graduate admissions for the School of Business. “When we develop a cohort, we want to have students with diverse backgrounds in terms of years of experience and academics because everyone will have the opportunity to learn from one another.”
And the program invests time and energy in creating robust offerings both inside and outside the classroom for its students, including executive coaching, a mentorship program, the MBA Friday speaker series and a variety of workshops. These non-academic programs serve to support “the education of the whole, not just the part,” which Brown says tends to resonate with female students.
It was that flexibility and support that led Kendyl Churchman to enroll in the MBA program in August 2021.
“I was attracted to the program’s value in cost, time and quality of education,” says Churchman who earned undergraduate degrees in business economics and sustainability studies from the University of Florida.
Prior to enrolling in the MBA program, Churchman spent the last three years working as a sustainability consultant for the Green Restaurant Association in Boston, Massachusetts. She wanted to find a flexible MBA program that could support her career plans and CofC’s program fit the bill.
“Even with my unique career goals, I felt that the staff was attentive and had already begun offering a lot of support when I called before even applying,” she says, noting a big positive for her was that the College’s MBA is designed as an accelerated one-year program. “Part of the value of investing in a graduate degree is maximizing the benefit of the career transition, and I felt confident that the College aligns with this goal.”
Like Churchman, Insha Jahan was looking to take the next step in her career in the financial sector after working for Goldman Sachs in India for six years.
“I intend to join the financial industry and the experience I am gaining here will help me join back at a senior position and I will have a lot more to offer to the roles than before,” says Jahan, who earned her bachelor’s degree in financial management from Symbiosis College of Arts & Commerce in Pune, India. “The highlight for me up to now has been how well each course is structured and how the faculty and the MBA team has been so invested in everyone’s career.”
And that support was a big factor in why Rachel Bruce ’18 decided to apply to the program after working with the College’s Office of Professional Development in Education. She hopes to use her graduate degree to pursue a career in the health and wellness sector as a business analyst.
“What attracted me to CofC’s MBA program is the support we get through the mentorship and executive coach program. I find this to be an invaluable experience that will enhance my MBA journey,” says Bruce, who earned her undergraduate degree in exercise science. “After having my first meeting, I already have so much more clarity and understanding to achieve my goals.”