Poder360, an online magazine for Hispanics, recently gave its take on the best B-Schools for Hispanics.  At first glance, we thought this would be another ranking system demonstrating why Hispanics should attend schools in Texas or the Southwest based on the idea that we would perform better if, well basically, we are around our people.  Poder360 proved us wrong with a different take.

We at The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce have always maintained the best institutions for every other American Citizen should also be considered the best for Hispanics.  A good education can never be replaced and sometimes a powerful name on your diploma gives the edge  you need in the real world.  So why settle for a lower-quality school just so you can “feel comfortable in your environment,” especially when, in the real world, you do not have a choice of how “comfortable” your environment is?  Poder360 seems to agree:

Whether you are Hispanic or not, when looking an MBA program, academic goals and the prospects of finding a job should take precedence over cultural issues.

By Jose Melendrez

Getting a business degree is a big decision and a big commitment. Succeed, and you may have a long and prosperous career; fail, and you might spend most of your adult life paying off the debt. Since schools each have their own methods of picking and choosing whom to accept from among their candidate pool, we think you also need to have your own system to gauge what school is right for you.

Most efforts to list the top business management programs for Hispanics tend to review the essentials: cost, rate of acceptance, rate of employment at graduation, and average salary at some interval after graduation. But inevitably they also fall into the trap of placing too much emphasis on issues such as the percentage of Hispanics enrolled in the school, the number of Hispanic associations created, and even the number of Hispanic faculty employed.

That’s why the graduate business school at the University of Texas San Antonio took the top spot on one such recent list, and two other Texas state universities made the top five. Meanwhile, Stanford University’s business school came in fifth, Columbia University came in eleventh, and Harvard didn’t even break the top 20.

Feeling comfortable in a school’s social environment is one of the most important factors in successfully completing a university degree, experts say, and being among people of similar language and culture is an important part in building that level of comfort. But whether your goal is to start your own venture or lead a Fortune 500 company, you also want to be as prepared and as tested as you can be.

“[Hispanics] should definitely be ambitious and apply to any program that they feel is a good fit for them,” says Stacy Sukov Blackman, consultant and author of The MBA Application Roadmap: The Essential Guide to Getting into a Business School.

Diversity in the classroom is as important as it is in the boardroom or the executive corner office. However, among the best MBA programs, even when race or ethnicity of prospective students is taken into consideration, the schools are not exactly leaders in diversity. For instance, the percentage of Latinos at Harvard Business School last year was only 3 percent. At Columbia University’s business school Latinos made up 4 percent of the student body, while at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Chicago University’s Booth School of Business, Latinos accounted for 5 percent and 8 percent of students.

What PODER’s Top 12 MBA programs for Hispanics do have is a track record of getting graduates high-paying jobs. As such, they are the meeting centers for up-and-coming global business leaders and incubators for the ideas that will drive the future of business. While they may employ too few Hispanic professors, they count former CEOs and top innovators with real world experience among their faculty.

Through the weight of the university or by proximity to America’s premier cultural hubs, these business schools also offer cultural diversity and entertainment. New York University and the University of California Berkeley, for example, provide the global diversity in their student bodies, faculties and surrounding environments that any budding entrepreneur would need to understand a globalized business world.

Business schools are changing leadership, revamping programs and reinventing themselves. International programs are blooming and there is an option for everyone. “Do your research to determine what is best for you,” Blackman recommends.

New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston, where eight of PODER’s top 12 business schools are located, also are cities with sizeable Hispanic populations. From the Latin theater festival and Mexican restaurants in Chicago, to the Washington Heights neighborhood made famous by Broadway, or Santana’s Latin jazz concerts in San Francisco, these places will make you feel at home.

The key is striking a balance between academic, professional and extra-curricular activities, explains Jori B. Psencik, education and university relations manager at the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA). “The challenge is to find a place where you belong and where you feel connected,” she says.

The good news is the top universities are starting to increase their minority faculty and are developing more enriching events on campus, as well as offering networking opportunities and conferences in Latin America, adds Psencik. Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has 88 active MBA alumni clubs with members in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. These associations help keep the Latin flavor alive on campus.

These 12 universities can help either English-speaking or Spanish-dominant Hispanics find quality jobs. In the 2009-20010 academic year, 5 percent of graduated MBA students accepted full-time jobs in Latin America. Ongoing Hispanic MBA students also interned in top companies such as Amazon.com, Apple, Endeavor, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Company and Morgan Stanley.

1. Harvard Business School
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Full-time tuition: $46,150/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $161,336
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 76%

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business
Location: Stanford, California
Full-time tuition: $51,321/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $169,989
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 69.1%

3. Columbia Business School
Location: New York, New York
Full-time tuition: $47,200/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $160,679
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 61.1%
Website: http://www.gsb.columbia.edu

4.The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Full-time tuition: $46,600/year.
Salary: $163,561
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 65.8%

5. Yale School of Management
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Full-time tuition: $47,200/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $139,165
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 69.3%

6. New York University Stern School of Business
Location: New York, New York
Full-time tuition: $43,100/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $138,212
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 72.1%

7. MIT Sloan School of Management
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Full-time tuition: $48,650/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $154,058
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 69.5%

8. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Location: chicago, Illinois
Full-time tuition: $49,020/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $156.721
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 73.2%

9 The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Full-time tuition: $45,850/year.
Average salary upon graduation:  $129,065
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 68.5%

10. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Full-time tuition: $47,835/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $154,607
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 69.2%

11. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University
Location: Chicago, illinois
Full-time tuition: $49,074/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $139,310
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 68.1%

12. Hass School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Location: Berkeley, California
Full-time tuition: $36,472/year.
Average salary upon graduation: $140,137
Graduates employed at graduation (full-time): 65.3%

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