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The University Where Over Half the MBA Students Are Women

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Photo: Courtesy of Abby Gteenawalt
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Photo: Courtesy of Abby Gteenawalt

The George Washington University School of Business has reached a powerful benchmark: 57 percent of its Global MBA students are women.

The Financial Time’s latest Global MBA Top 100 ranking found GW Business and the University of California, Irvine had hit that benchmark in fall 2020, outpacing all other Global MBA programs in the country. The Forté Foundation, which works to deepen women’s foothold in business and business education, said GW Business was the only of its 53 partner schools around the world to cross the 50 percent threshold. 

For more than two decades — through academic programs, co-curricular offerings and internal leadership — GW Business has been advancing a culture of inclusion. Susan Kessler, director of graduate recruiting and admissions, said the school has worked to erase the notion that “the MBA was the old boys club” while stepping up a support system of academic advisers, mentors, and career coaches.  

The school’s 25 stackable certificates have also proven attractive to Global MBA students who want deeper knowledge in specific fields. Kessler said the credit-bearing certificates provide both the specialization and flexibility women need to customize their coursework and the timing of their degrees.

While much has changed over GW’s 200 years, what endures is our never-ending commitment to creating a greater world. 

“We have everything from certificates in traditional functional areas like management leadership and finance to niche programs like corporate responsibility and government and nonprofit accounting to skill-building areas like artificial intelligence, business analytics, and cloud applications,” said Liesl Riddle, associate dean of graduate programs. 

In fostering women’s inclusion, GW Business leads by example. Susan Phillips, a former member of the Federal Reserve Board, served as dean for 12 years until her retirement in 2010, and Linda Livingstone was dean from 2014 to 2017, when she was named president of Baylor University. Currently, half the associate deans and a third of the research center directors are women. Susan Kulp, a professor of accountancy, directs the MBA program.

The school’s strong international business curricula and well-connected global faculty drive a standout academic program. For two years running, the Financial Times has ranked GW Business’s Global MBA program No. 1 for international business in the United States, and No. 2 worldwide. 

The combination of international business and stackable certificates spurred Casey Hayes-Deats to pursue a Global MBA in order to convert her theater experience and background in education into a career in nonprofit finance. Her coursework included a consulting project in Taiwan.

When she completes her MBA in May, Hayes-Deats will also have certificates in strategic management and financial management. She has been hired by EdOPs as an outsourced CFO for D.C.-area charter schools.

Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of giants or forge a new path, George Washington University is the place to start.

Nicole Samuel, meanwhile, completed a Global MBA in 2014 so she could move from the nonprofit sector to international business. She said she ended up with exceptional networking opportunities.  

“When you’re going through the MBA program, it’s so fast-paced that you hardly breathe. You can’t think of how to strategically cultivate a long-lasting relationship with alumni,” said Samuel, a director at Gartner. “GW Business did a good job facilitating those connections.”  

Lifelong career services and the school’s popular Women in Global Careers Roundtable are also often cited as differentiators. The roundtable is an annual dinner event hosted by the GW Center for International Business Education Research (CIBER). It brings students together with women executives for a wide-ranging discussion.

While much has changed over GW’s 200 years, what endures is our never-ending commitment to creating a greater world.

“We talk about … the commitment, the skills, the need to be adaptable and learn new things quickly, the ability to work across cultures,” said Stacie Berdan, the global marketing consultant who organizes and keynotes the roundtable. “Because we create an intimate environment, we’re able to discuss everything from how to go about landing one of these global assignments through how to manage the personal aspects of kids or aging parents.”  

Riddle said the school is committed to matching the aspirations of its students with the needs of the marketplace. “We specialize in helping students up-skill, re-skill and switch careers. For many of our alumnae, that has made all the difference,” she said.  

To learn more about George Washington University and its programs, visit

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