HBCUs See Growing Enrollment Thanks to International Appeal

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Students graduate from Fisk University in Tennessee. ( he Burton Wire).
Students graduate from Fisk University in Tennessee. (The Burton Wire).

Historically black colleges and universities across the country are seeing significant growth in enrollment among graduate students. However, African-American applicants aren’t the only ones flocking to HBCUs to pursue a master’s degree.

Experts say some schools are focusing on recruiting international students to their business programs. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business said graduate enrollment at HBCUs has increased 37 percent.

Joseph I. Wells, director of  master’s programs at Morgan State University in Baltimore, told US News World & Report the school has “a nice pipeline of Saudi students.” He said that under the university’s president, David Wilson, the school has made an agreement with the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education.

Wells said many MBA applicants come from Ghana, Nigeria and Nepal. However, a fall 2013 student demographic report by Morgan State said Saudi Arabia was the third most common foreign country of residence with 46. By 2015, another demographic report showed Saudi Arabia topped the list with 355 residents.

The Howard University School of Business has also attracted international students because of its global curriculum, according to the school’s dean, Barron Harvey. The Washington D.C.-based HBCU began offering the Global Trilateral MBA Certificate Program last year.

“It is for a select number of students who want an international experience,” Harvey said to US News. “They will take a certain number of courses but also work on projects with our partnering schools.”

Harvey also said Howard has 120 students in its full-time MBA program.

HBCUs going global isn’t new. Historically black institutions have been seeking ways to allow African-American students to engage internationally as well. Diverse: Issues In Higher Education reports that Atlanta’s Spelman College launched the Spelman Going Global! Initiative in 2009. Since then, the number of students who participate in study abroad programs has doubled, from 218 during the 2011-12 school year to 433 in the 2012-2013 school year. The Black liberal arts college has established 15 partnerships with institutions in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America between 2011 and 2014, according to Dr. Dimeji Togunde, associate provost for global education and a professor of international studies at the college.

“We live in an interconnected global society,” said Togunde to Diverse. “We want to ensure we can produce graduates who can live and work in cultures that are different from theirs and who can be global leaders.”

Like Morgan State in Maryland, Howard University has also seen an increase in international enrollment. Dr. Anthony Wutoh, dean of the College of Pharmacy and assistant provost for international programs, told Diverse international student enrollment increased from 4.6 percent in 2013 to 5.2 percent in 2014.

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