Live Updates: Coronavirus Impact On Business Schools

What is the impact of coronavirus on business schools? We bring you the latest updates including campus closures, changes to MBA admission requirements, and more


Latest features:

Should You Mention Covid In Your MBA Application?

In this Applicant Question, Chaya Benyamin, Senior Consultant at ARINGO MBA Consulting, discusses why mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic is essential to your MBA application. Since 2020, almost every MBA candidate posed the question: Do I have to mention Coronavirus in my application?

The answer is, yes! 

You should mention coronavirus in your MBA application. There are some key reasons behind this:

Top MBA programs are looking for candidates who create solutions and lead processes from multiple perspectives and industries.

MBAs need to demonstrate involvement in the well-being of their professional and personal communities.

It would be short-sighted to ignore how a global pandemic has impacted the way you work, think or live.

One simply cannot discuss business, much less life, without referencing the tremendous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people in every corner of the globe. Last year, business schools such as Kellogg reflected their interest in candidates’ views on navigating COVID-19 in their video essay questions, while Wharton dedicated a portion of its interview to the issue.  2b09dc6ab7d08197be0206f136f4f50da38e2fdc.JPG

At ARINGO MBA Admissions Consulting, we encourage our candidates for the 2021 intake to demonstrate awareness and action in their written essays. We asked candidates to relate to COVID-19’s influence in at least one of three environments: at home, at the office, or in their respective industries.

Discussing the changes that occurred in professional environments and industries because of COVID-19 provided excellent fodder for the ever-popular questions “Why MBA?” and “Why now?” 

It unpacked candidates' methods for coping with the Coronavirus inside or outside the office and provided opportunities to differentiate our candidates in their career goals and progress essays

What do top schools think?

Our review of admissions outcomes revealed that admissions committees were most interested in candidates whose applications related to the Coronavirus with some sense of urgency. Candidates in industries with COVID-related growth (like hi-tech) or losses (like travel and tourism) received more attention than those in sturdier industries such as management consulting or finance.  

M7 schools and other top programs responded positively to candidates who were able to share stories of initiating or aiding in successful transitions. Candidates who demonstrate tenacity in the face of the pandemic created a unique moment to showcase their affinity and alignment with the attitudes of perseverance and adaptability that are sources of pride at virtually any leading business school.

While business schools have weathered the worst of the COVID-19 storm, it is unclear when, or if, they will fully return to their previous in-person formats. Coronavirus has permanently affected business and top MBA programs; the subject cannot be ignored in applications for the 2022 intake.

Deciding on how to integrate COVID-19 into your narrative can be tricky and should not be treated as a “buzzword”.  We recommend clients think about how their work is changing and what is on the horizon. Focus on the solution and how it is imperative for you to start in the Fall of 2022.    

Read another Applicant Question:

MBA Essays: Top Tips For 2021

Cost Of MBA Increases In 2021 Despite Covid

The cost of an MBA increased by 4.7% in the past year despite COVID-19—that’s an additional $8,000 to budget for, according to our BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report 2021 released today.

The average total cost of pursuing a full-time MBA at a top-ranked business school has grown from $168k in 2020 to $176k in 2021.

The cost of an MBA is growing more rapidly outside the United States, with the average total cost of an MBA in Asia growing by 10%, and in Europe by 9.7%, between 2020 and 2021, although US MBA programs remain the most expensive.

An MBA in the USA will set you back over $217k in terms of total estimated cost, compared with $130k in Europe, and $108k in Asia.

“A big driver of that overall cost is the cost of tuition. While some schools froze their MBA tuition fees in 2021, others were forced to increase tuition as revenues suffered elsewhere,” says Marco De Novellis, senior editor of BusinessBecause.

Download our Cost of MBA Report 2021


Cost of MBA Report 2021 | Key findings

The annual BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report, released in partnership with MBA loans company Juno in 2021, breaks down the total cost of MBA programs at the world’s top business schools, covering MBA tuition fees as well as living costs, healthcare, extra fees, and the cost of books and materials. 

According to our report:

- MIT Sloan remains the world’s most expensive MBA, with a total cost of $241,984, up by 1.8% compared with 2020.

- NUS Business School offers the most affordable top-ranked MBA, with a total cost of $89,342.

- The total cost of the MBA at HEC Paris increased the most between 2020 and 2021 (by 16.3%), followed by Oxford Saïd (15.6%), and Cambridge Judge (15%).

- Only Virginia Darden saw a decrease in the total cost of its MBA in 2021, down 3.6%.

Why is the cost of an MBA increasing?

Rising tuition fees as well as a less favorable exchange rate against the dollar for non-US schools are the main drivers for the overall MBA cost increase. When calculating cost, we convert all local currency into US$.

The cost of MBA tuition increased by 7.6% on average globally in 2021, with the most significant fee increases made by London Business School and HEC Paris.

HEC Paris increased its tuition fees from €72,500 (September intake) and €69,620 (January intake) to €78,000 and €76,000 respectively.

Business schools that increased their tuition fees in the past year did so in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. 

As companies cut spending, schools lost revenue from executive education in the past year while they also increased their spending to enable virtual teaching. For some schools, increasing MBA tuition fees is a way to recover from the financial impact of COVID-19.

“MBA programs have tried to do everything they can to try to keep fees affordable—Harvard dispersed another $6 million in financial aid in the past year—but some schools are hurting financially due to COVID,” says David White of MBA admissions consulting firm Menlo Coaching.

Although demand for MBA programs has boomed during the pandemic, that’s unlikely to have influenced schools’ decision to increase fees, according to David.

“There’s no Uber surge pricing for business schools!” he says. “Schools are inherently long-term focused and much of their budget, in the US in particular, comes from contributions from alumni. 

“They know that if they charged you 20% more in tuition, you’re not going to donate money back to the school later on.”

In fact, several top US business schools froze tuition fees in 2021—including Harvard, Stanford, and Darden—while Yale was the only school to reduce tuition, according to our report.

Esade Business School in Spain also froze tuition fees in reaction to COVID, says Cristina Olabarría, recruitment and admissions director at Esade.

“Our main objective is to continue strengthening our scholarship fund and the financial aid portfolio that we offer to Esade candidates, so the pandemic isn’t an impediment for talented people to be able to study at Esade regardless of their financial situation,” she says.

INSEAD only made a minor increase to its tuition fees of around $1,000. Katy Montgomery, INSEAD’s associate dean of degree programs, says the school kept tuition fairly flat to account for students coming from all over the world, including countries hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Diversity in the classroom is our number one priority and we felt keeping the tuition constant would better enable us to maintain 92 countries represented in our MBA program,” she says.

While the cost of an MBA has increased the most at European business schools, the total cost of a top-ranked MBA in Europe is still relatively low at most schools compared with the US.

MIT Sloan is the world’s most expensive MBA program in terms of overall cost, at close to $242k, followed by NYU Stern and Stanford.

Funding your MBA

While MBAs are expensive, you shouldn’t let the cost of an MBA put you off applying to business school.

“MBA students transform their careers after graduation; start exciting new businesses, land the best jobs, and see their salaries skyrocket. Plus, business schools offer generous scholarships and funding options,” says Marco.

One option for US MBA students is Juno, which uses group buying power to negotiate the best student loan rates possible for MBA participants.

Juno has helped MBA students get more than $300 million in education loans and make savings of up to $15,000 on loan repayments.

Ryan Price, star of the BusinessBecause MBA Newcomer series, who starts his full-time MBA at BYU Marriott School of Business in the fall, says lenders compete for the business of Juno’s large client pool of MBA students.

“Yes, it’s still a student loan that will need to be paid back, but it’s the cheapest option in terms of interest that I could find anywhere for US schools,” he says.

Download our BusinessBecause Cost of MBA Report

Do You Need A Covid Vaccine To Study An MBA?

Do you need a Covid vaccine to study an MBA? As we begin to see a return to life after Covid, business schools are eager to reopen their doors to students robbed of their in-person learning experience. 

In fall 2021, business schools across the globe will need to strike the appropriate balance between classroom teaching and necessary health and safety measures. 

In some instances, this could mean an end to fully online learning. However, to keep Covid case rates low on campus, some schools will require you to be fully vaccinated. 

Others are opting for a hybrid teaching model of in-person and remote learning, alongside obligations to wear facemasks, take lateral flow tests, and work behind Plexiglass barriers.

Do you need a Covid vaccine to study in the US?

From September, over 350 business school campuses across the US are reopening their doors to students, on the condition that they have both Covid vaccinations. 

These schools include Rutgers Business School, MIT Sloan, Wharton, Cornell Johnson, Kogod School of Business, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

These business schools only approve vaccinations that are certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Vaccinations approved by the FDA and the WHO include:

- AstraZeneca

- Moderna 

- Pfizer-BioNTech. 

You’re only exempt from these requirements on religious or medical grounds.

Other schools like Harvard Business School will also require staff, faculty, and students returning to campus in the fall to be fully vaccinated, while schools like UVA Darden have announced that you’ll no longer need to wear facemasks if you’re fully vaccinated and teaching will return to the classroom. Rowan University is offering vaccinated students up to $1000 towards tuition and housing.

By requiring returning students to be fully vaccinated, the hope is that business schools can prevent the development of new variants and stop a rise in Covid cases on campus. The vaccine rollout program in the US is key to reintroducing and maintaining in person teaching for the new academic year.

Yet there’s been political backlash from some US states. Governors in Florida, Texas, and Arizona have introduced new laws to veto schools that require vaccines as a condition for being on campus. Therefore, business schools in Arizona, Florida, and Alabama do not require you to be vaccinated.

Vaccination laws have also led to confusing requirements for some schools in Texas. Whereas public universities are unable to demand vaccinations, private ones can demand that you have both shots.

US Business School Covid-19 Campus Updates


(c)Duke Fuqua Facebook

What if you’re an international candidate?

If you’re an international candidate starting business school in the fall, you may encounter difficulty meeting the US vaccination requirements, as certain countries are using vaccines not certified by the FDA or WHO. 

For example, international students receiving the Covaxin in India will have to receive additional Covid vaccinations when arriving in the US. You’ll receive a vaccination on arrival and will then be required to quarantine for two weeks. Second shots will be offered after the elapsed period.


Developing countries have also rolled out their vaccination programs at a much slower rate than places like the US and Europe. Whereas nearly 50 percent of the US population is vaccinated, India and Indonesia have vaccinated just over 5% of their populations. Brazil has vaccinated nearly 15%.

Despite this, admissions consultant and founder of MBA 360 Admissions, Barbara Coward (pictured right), says she’s seen few concerns among international candidates regarding vaccines, adding that students should monitor government policy for more information.

“The process for vaccines and quarantine will depend on the policies of each university,” she notes. 

“I wouldn’t assume one policy at one university applies across the board. Each state is different, and I suspect some southern states in the US such as Florida, South Carolina and Texas (with Republican governors) would ease restrictions compared to governors in NY or California.”

European Business School Covid-19 Campus Updates


©CopenhagenBusinessSchool / FB

What’s the situation like outside the US?

Similar demands do not exist at business schools in the UK and Europe. Instead, most business schools are adopting a wait-and-see approach based on government guidelines.

ESCP Business School’s campuses in Madrid and Turin will continue to endorse a hybrid model of in-person teaching and online learning throughout the fall. Whereas ESCP’s campus in Berlin will remain closed, you can now access its campus in London, on the condition that you provide the school with two negative Covid tests every week.

In France, vaccinated students from green and amber countries must provide evidence of their vaccination status before travelling. Unvaccinated students from green countries will have to supply proof of a negative antigen or PCR test, whereas students from amber countries must also provide a compelling reason for entering France. Borders are currently closed for international students from red countries.

It’s similar in Asia, with most schools yet to announce a clear policy on Covid vaccine requirements for incoming students. 

However, schools like NUS Business School in Singapore have previously organized vaccines for graduate students. The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is also holding two vaccination days on campus for students and staff to receive their first and second shots before in person activities resume for the new academic year. 


The impact of coronavirus on business schools and therefore guidelines issued by schools are constantly changing on a country-by-country basis. 

Whether you’re a domestic or international student enrolling in business school this fall, it’s important to keep checking both government and university guidelines for updates on vaccination requirements.

It might be that you need to get your first shot and quarantine on arrival, or you might have to move the date of your second vaccination forward to have permission to arrive on campus for the fall semester. 

As stressful as it might be to navigate the return to school, there’s one huge silver lining for students: The joys of in person teaching and pre-pandemic MBA networking are slowly set to return.


Next Read:

MBA Students Get Strong Return On Investment Despite COVID-19

COVID-19 Campus Updates For US Business Schools

COVID-19 threw business education into disarray in 2020, as everyone from the M7 business schools—a group of elite business schools in the US—to the rest of the pack shifted teaching online and had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.

The majority of business schools in the United States are now planning to welcome students, staff, and faculty back to campus for the fall 2021 semester as they usher in the much anticipated return of in-person teaching. 

Safety protocols will remain in place on some campuses, with mask wearing and social distancing not disappearing entirely. Schools are also asking students to get vaccinated before returning to campus, unless exempt. 

Here, we highlight the latest COVID-19 campus updates for top business schools in the US. This page is regularly updated with the latest campus reopening plans for MBA students, and more schools will be added as information is released. 

COVID-19 Campus Updates: US Business Schools

The M7 business schools

Chicago Booth School of Business

Booth’s Hyde Park and Gleacher campuses are only allowing Illinois residents to be permitted. For the school’s Yuen Campus, only Hong Kong residents will be permitted, and for the London campus at St. Paul’s, only residents of the greater London region are being permitted.

The wider university recently announced plans to resume on-campus activities fully for fall 2021, if the state of the pandemic and the health of the university community allow. 

The planned resumption of in-person activities would include Booth’s campuses in Chicago, London, and Hong Kong, in consultation with local health officials in those locations. 

All teaching sessions are being recorded so they are available for both students who can attend on campus, and those who have to study remotely. 

Harvard Business School

A memo from June 3rd, 2021, confirms that all remaining coronavirus restrictions in the state of Massachusetts, and the cities of Boston and Cambridge, have been lifted. Masks will continue to be mandatory on public and private transportation systems, in health care facilities, and in some other settings. 

Individuals are encouraged to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing until they are fully vaccinated. Generally, though, the state of emergency will be lifted, and all signals are to get vaccinated and resume pre-pandemic activities.

Across Harvard, some restrictions remain regardless of vaccination status. Masks and physical distancing will continue to be required indoors, there are capacity limits on gatherings, and weekly testing will be expected for faculty and staff coming to campus more than four hours per week on a regular basis.

The plan is for full in-person classes to resume for the fall 2021 semester. Vaccines will be required for all faculty, staff, and students by the fall, with exceptions granted for medical or religious reasons. 

Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg is continuing its in-person instruction—which began in July 2020—this quarter. Full-time and Evening & Weekend MBA students will be offered in-person classes, and there will be virtual options for those who cannot join in person because of health, safety or travel restrictions.

From June 1st, 2021, Evening & Weekend MBA students travelling from outside of Illinois will also be eligible to participate in in-person instruction.

The school’s Executive MBA students are being offered a hybrid teaching model on the Evanston and Miami campuses, which includes all students who reside in the US, as well as international students traveling from countries permitted by the US State Department and the CDC.

Full health and safety protocols are in place, such as social distancing, mask wearing, and enhanced cleaning. There is also a testing system in place, including contact tracing for any positive cases.

The wider university at Northwestern will require COVID-19 vaccination for all students attending from fall 2021. 

MIT Sloan

From fall 2021, there will be in-person classes at MIT Sloan School of Management. 

All students enrolled or enrolling in fall classes must be vaccinated before semester begins, unless they have an approved exemption. 

Faculty and staff working on campus, and certain contractors and others working on campus or accessing MIT facilities, must have had their vaccination by July 30th, 2021.

Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB)

Stanford GSB is operating a hybrid model as it transitions back to in-person teaching. A new MSX class arrives in July 2021, and MBA students are returning to campus in the fall. The school is still finalizing detailed plans for the new academic year based on evolving public health directives. 


The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is planning for the full resumption of in-person teaching, research, and university operations for the fall semester 2021, in line with plans set by the wider university. 

All students set to be on campus for the new academic year fall 2021 are required to get vaccinated, unless exempt for medical or religious reasons.

All current faculty, staff, and post-doctoral trainees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than August 1st, 2021. 

Those not fully vaccinated will be required to continue to participate in daily symptom checks on PennOpen Pass, and partake in weekly Penn Cares screening testing, as well as to continue to wear masks indoors.

COVID-19 Campus Updates For European Business Schools


©CopenhagenBusinessSchool Facebook

Other US Business Schools

Cornell Johnson

Cornell anticipates that classes will return to in-person for the fall semester and the start of the new academic year in 2021. The school requires COVID-19 vaccination for all students planning on attending campus. 

Cornell announced on May 18th, 2021, that it will accept all vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the European Medical Association, and the World Health Organization.

Students are expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible and will be eligible for vaccination locally. The school encourages incoming international students still awaiting their vaccination to arrive as early as possible to allow for vaccination before teaching commences on August 8th, 2021. 

Fuqua School of Business

Things are looking up at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. 

“The situation on campus is improving almost daily as we are seeing vaccination rates steadily increase,” explains Russ Morgan, senior associate dean for full-time programs at Fuqua. “That has allowed us to increasingly provide connectivity across our community members and we have recently completed several in-person celebrations with our Daytime MBA graduates. With that has come a refreshing energy and optimism about the upcoming academic year.”

A hybrid model has been in place for the academic year 2020/2021, and in-person, co-curricular activities have all been virtual.

But for the upcoming academic year starting fall 2021, the plan is for Fuqua School of Business to return to as normal an operating environment as possible.

“When students arrive on campus in the new academic year, we will return to operating 100 percent in person. Because some incoming students may be challenged with immigration issues, we will be working with impacted individuals to ensure they have access to classes until they are able to join their program on campus,” Russ explains.

There’ll be in-person orientation, and student events will return to campus. A major factor in bringing students back to campus, Russ says, is Duke’s decision to require all students to be vaccinated.

Mask wearing will also continue, as will surveillance COVID-19 testing.

Kogod School of Business

At American University’s Kogod School of Business the majority of summer 2021 classes will be held online. 

The school plans to offer in-person teaching when the new academic year begins in fall 2021. All students, faculty, and staff will be required to have been vaccinated prior to being on campus. 

Haas School of Business

From July 12th staff are expected to return to campus at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, in preparation for the fall 2021 semester, beginning on August 8th.  

The school is planning for in-person teaching to resume at the start of the new academic year. It anticipates that some public health measures will still be required.

Classes with enrollments of 200 or more students will continue to be delivered remotely during the fall semester, although most courses will not have an ‘all-remote’ option. A limited number of remote teaching options are being made available to support the needs of international students who may be delayed entering the US. All students, staff, and faculty returning to campus will be required to get vaccinated, unless exempt. 

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University’s Ourso College of Business is planning for a fully in-person teaching schedule for fall 2021. The school is also encouraging students who plan to be on campus to get vaccinated before the new academic year. 

McDonough School of Business

MBA summer classes are being offered as hybrid this summer, and the rest are online. Faculty determined their mode of instruction this summer. The school's Executive Masters in Leadership is currently being taught in person. 

McDonough School of Business is planning to resume in-person teaching for it's Executive MBA and MiM programs from fall 2021.

All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students planning to return to the Georgetown McDonough campus for the fall 2021 semester will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless exempt. 

Documentation will be required, showing vaccination with a vaccine authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

The school will help students who have not been vaccinated or who have received a vaccine that has not been authorized by the FDA or WHO to get an authorized vaccine on campus upon arrival.

Michigan Ross

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is continuing to offer a mix of remote, hybrid, and a few fully in-person classes to undergraduate and graduate students throughout the spring and summer terms. 

Campus is open to faculty, staff, and students, and co-curricular experiences will be offered in remote, hybrid, and in-person formats consistent with the latest public health protocols. 

The school plans a return to full in-person teaching for the fall 2021 semester, and students should plan to be back on campus for the start of the new academic year. The school is strongly recommending students get vaccinated—there’s a mandatory requirement for vaccination for any student living on campus. 

For international students, the school will continue to monitor international travel restrictions, and will provide a hybrid model of teaching for students unable to attend. 

NYU Stern

NYU Stern School of Business has reduced campus capacity and placed a cap on classroom attendance. Two meters physical distancing is required in classrooms, and large events have been postponed.

As a result, the school has adopted its teaching method, and classes are currently following one of the following two formats. 

Each class session will either meet in person, on campus, but in each session half of the students will be present in class and half will be online. There is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous classes. Or roughly half of the class sessions will be in person, and roughly half will be online. In each case, all of the students will be in the same format (in person or online) for each class session.

All students who plan on returning to NYU’s campuses in the US must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Students, faculty, and employees who have been vaccinated must upload proof of vaccination status.

Students must upload proof of vaccination by July 19, 2021.

TCU Neeley School of Business

At TCU Neeley, administration, faculty, and staff are all currently back on campus. The school is currently operating under a hybrid model of teaching for summer courses, but will return to campus completely in fall 2021.

Tuck School of Business

Dartmouth Tuck School of Business is planning a full in-person teaching schedule for the fall 2021 semester. 

The school requires all students who will be on campus for the new academic year to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that has received full approval or emergency use authorization by the FDA, or full approval or emergency use listing by the World Health Organization. The College will offer medical and religious exemptions.

Yale School of Management (SoM)

Yale SoM will be open and ready for in-person learning again in fall 2021. Accommodations may be made for some students to attend virtually in the first term of the fall semester, due to uneven COVID-19 restrictions in other countries, but it is the school’s goal that all students be in-residence by the end of the first term.

Read our latest updates on the impact of coronavirus on business schools

This article was last updated June 24th 2021

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