April 12, 2022

First-of-its-Kind Report on the Experience of MBA Students with Disabilities

A global survey conducted by Toronto-based Access to Success Organization—founded in 2016 to support the development of future leaders with disabilities and assistive technology—finds that barriers hinder MBA students who have disabilities, from the application process all the way through graduation.  184 current, former and prospective MBA students with disabilities participated in ASO’s survey on their experiences in six key stages of their MBA journey – pre-admission, academic life, student life, in-program recruiting, overall MBA experience, and post-graduation experience.


Major highlights: 1 in 3 respondents faced disability-related barriers in the application process.  Seeking accommodations for GMAT or GRE standardized testing was a significant concern for 22% of all respondents in the pre-admissions application process.  Additionally, over 50% of the respondents were not presented any opportunity in their application to even disclose that they have a disability.


During their MBA experience, 2 in 3 respondents needed accommodations, though over 25% didn’t request them.  One respondent was denied an extension despite having a seizure; another was asked to make a graded presentation from the hospital.  Similarly, over 60% experienced difficulties in social settings, with two of the major areas of concern being casual social interaction with peers and informal social gatherings.  Respondents cited fear of stigma, social anxiety, and fatigue from emotional exhaustion as the primary obstacles to participating in social settings.  Finally, 50% of respondents had a negative experience with on-campus recruiting, such as recruiter bias and/or stereotyping, ableism (favoritism towards able-bodied people), and inaccessibility of on-campus recruiting events.


There were bright spots, however. Most respondents reported a high level of satisfaction with their campus’s Career Centers and with their overall MBA experience.  Also, those who requested accommodations generally reported their outcomes to be positive and beneficial.  Among the key actions respondents recommended for improving MBA programs’ accessibility were building awareness about accommodations among faculty and administrators, creating resource centers for students with disabilities, waiving standardized testing, and implementing anti-bias and disability awareness training for peers and recruiters.


Varun Chandak, founder and president of Access to Success Organization, intends the report to serve as a launchpad for systemic change for improving the inclusion of people with disabilities in MBA programs.


The ASO’s full report is available here.  Admitify strongly supports inclusion of students with disabilities and if you need assistance to begin your MBA application, contact us today!