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

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GMAT Testing Updates | Coronavirus

2020 MBA Application Deadlines

3 Ways Coronavirus Impacts MBA Programs

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting business schools and MBA programs globally. We spoke to industry experts who consider three ways COVID-19 could impact MBA programs and your MBA experience.

1. The attractiveness of the MBA

Coronavirus could impact how many people are willing to pursue MBA programs.

MBA applications tend to move counter to the markets. Historically, demand has risen in times of turmoil, including during the financial crisis of 2007-08, as workers facing redundancy sought to upskill, ready to hit the labor market for when the recovery kicked in. 

With America shedding 701,000 jobs in early March and unemployment spiraling, the economic outlook looks dismal. However, the COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, and the full extent of the economic damage is unknown, making decisions difficult for prospective students. 

It’s also unclear whether business school campuses will be open for the start of the fall semester. With questions over whether online instruction can match the quality of in person education, and concerns about MBA jobs prospects, some may consider the MBA a devalued asset. 

Schools are already reporting requests for tuition fee refunds and application deferrals to 2021 when prospects hope for a clearer picture of the situation. 

Nevertheless, David White, founding partner of Menlo Coaching, an admissions consulting firm in the Netherlands, expects MBA applications to increase. Menlo Coaching has seen more inquiries than usual lately, he says. 

“Although applicants have legitimate concerns about fall 2020 programming being held virtually, they also recognize that Covid-19 is causing major disruptions in the job market. 

“The MBA remains equally attractive, maybe even more attractive, if compared to an economic scenario where bonuses, promotions and job switching is much less likely. Students may also estimate that a recovery would begin by the time they graduate in 2022.” 

2. MBA student diversity

Schools are expecting a less diverse class for the fall semester. Embassies and consulates are closed, so visa processing has ground to a halt. Airplanes remain grounded across the globe, meaning study trips, a major component of an MBA, are also cancelled. 

Eric Cornuel, president of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) in Brussels, says: “Many schools will turn back to national and regional students to compensate for the disruption to global mobility.”  

However, schools are taking action to hedge their bets. Harvard Business School has a longer wait-list this year, a list of applicants who may be offered a place in future if space in the class becomes available. The idea is to keep a larger number of domestic applicants available to enroll if overseas students cannot get visas to come to Boston in the fall. 

Business schools face the challenge of adapting their admissions policy to account for the coronavirus crisis while striving to maintain entrance standards.  

Many have launched an extra admissions round or are extending current rounds by two or three months to give themselves and students more time to complete the admissions process. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business launched a one-off fourth round of applications, adding an extra 60 days to the cycle. 

With admissions test centers temporarily closed around the world, several schools are being more flexible in their admissions policy and accepting applicants without standardized test scores, including INSEAD, London Business School and the Rotterdam School of Management in Europe. 

However, the GRE test can now be taken online and the GMAT should be online by mid-April

3. A shift online

Will Dawes, research and insight manager at the Association of MBAs (AMBA) in London, expects a rise in applications for online courses as more people are forced to work from home because of COVID-19. They may therefore feel more confident in studying virtually. 

“Business schools, like all organizations, are having to find innovative ways to adapt,” he says. 

Eric too says the accelerated switch to online instruction after years of slow uptake among schools and students is a “silver living in [a] dire situation”.

However, the crisis has raised questions over whether online instruction can match the in-person experience. Cultivating a professional network, sitting cheek by jowl with classmates from around the world, is a hallmark of an MBA. The consensus is that online learning has not replicated this. 

“Schools are eager to return to in-person programming, and I expect them to do so as soon as this is a responsible option,” says David from Menlo Coaching. “Schools know that full-time students prefer in-person experiences.” 

Short-term, much will depend on whether schools can successfully adapt teaching and operations online. Already, the whole MBA application process has gone digital, with schools conducting video interviews and virtual campus tours.

Looking forward, the coronavirus crisis will stretch the finances of some business schools, with job losses and even closures being predicted. However, Eric from EFMD says that if business schools are flexible and innovative with their MBA programs, they will survive.

Read our coronavirus coverage:

Live updates: Coronavirus impact on business schools

Live: GMAT testing updates

2020 MBA Application Deadlines

Wharton Launches Virtual MBA Campus Tour

April 17 Roundup

Wharton Launches Virtual Campus Tour

Meeting in person is off the table and business schools around the world have had to adapt their approach to attracting prospective MBA students.

The challenges brought by COVID-19 has pushed innovation to the fore, and the Wharton School is rolling out a brand new offering for prospective students. Drum roll please. 

The live virtual campus tour led by a Wharton MBA student goes live on April 21st at 12:30PM Eastern Time. 

First-year MBA student Caitlin Lohrenz will walk participants through Wharton’s newly-released virtual tour, giving commentary along the way, just as she would if they were walking through campus in person. She’ll discuss student activities, academics, commuting, and more. After the tour ends, she will answer prospective student questions live.

Value Of An MBA For Women

The ability for students to meet in person and attend classes on campus may have diminished amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but the value of an MBA remains, especially for women in business. 

Though achieving a universal gender balance is a slow and arduous process, some schools are making big strides when it comes to gender parity. 

Since 2019 the MBA cohort at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales Business School in Sydney, Australia, has consisted of 50% women, placing it among the top 10 MBA programs for women in the world two years running.

Each year, Women in Leadership (WIL) scholarships of $50,000 and $25,000 AUD ($30,300 and $15,150 US) are offered to women with outstanding achievements in leadership, career progression, and global citizenship.

Cranfield School of Management tells a similar story when it comes to bolstering the careers of women in business. 

MSc in Management graduate Shivanshi Sharma (pictured below) secured an internship at the The Security Institute, which she landed through the Cranfield Career Development Service.

Shivanshi graduated from the MSc in Management at Cranfield in 2019

She says the network she built in the UK has given her confidence when she thinks about her future. The People Management and Leadership (PML) module was particularly useful when she put together and presented her five-year marketing strategy to The Security Institute CEO during her internship. 

“My CEO actually took me to a directors’ meeting, where I got to present my plan to 13 other directors who work across security non-profit organizations––definitely an advantageous networking opportunity.”

Britain’s response to coronavirus is reminiscent of response to Spanish Flu

Tania Jain (pictured), a fellow in management from the London School of Economics’ Department of Management, claims Britain’s lacking response to the COVID-19 pandemic is reminiscent of their response to the Spanish Flu, more than 100 years ago.

Tania explains why Britain's response to coronavirus is reminiscent of their response to spanish flu

Britain’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been atypical even amongst western countries, she explains. As it did during the Spanish Flu, Britain began by underestimating the seriousness of the crisis to keep public morale in check before introducing strict regulations. 

Other nations, particularly in the East, have had quicker and sharper responses. For instance, South Korea and Singapore have had mass rapid testing, Japan has mass produced much needed personal protective equipment, and Taiwan have been prompt in surveillance and contact screening. Even Germany have beat Britain in testing capacity, allowing them to achieve low mortality rates.

How To Lead During A Crisis

As a former communications director for the White House, David Demarest knows a thing or two about managing crises. 

The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) lecturer of management shares his crisis leadership playbook.

MBAs Open Doors To Careers In Healthcare

April 16 Roundup

MBAs working in healthcare

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, there’s never been more of a need for healthcare professionals. The good news is that an MBA degree can advance your career in a variety of industries, including healthcare.

Take Patrick Gomez Menzies, who used a healthcare-focused MBA at UNC Kenan Flagler to switch from research to managing innovation at GSK.

On his MBA experience, Patrick says: “The collaborative culture at GSK also reminded me of the culture at UNC Kenan-Flagler. I think business school really gave me the skills I needed to have a larger impact than I was having before.”

Or Nico Nguyen, from the MBA in Healthcare Administration at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, who went from recommending healthcare policies to taking charge of their impact on the ground.

Nico says: “I still call on my MBA program directors when I have an issue. These were people I trusted, and I knew they were looking out for me. With my classmates, even now we stay in touch, and can learn from each other because we’re working in different areas.”

Check out the best MBA programs in healthcare management

NUS Business School pushes back MBA start date

NUS in Singapore has moved its MBA start date from August 2020 to January 2021 for both full-time and part-time formats. If you’re already enrolled and the change doesn’t fit with your plans, you can either defer by a year to start in August 2021 or withdraw from the program.

The school will continue to accept applications for the January 2021 start date for both programs until July 15th.

See our full list of 2020 MBA Application Deadlines: Coronavirus Extensions

Oxford University launches plan to solve COVID-19 crisis

The Oxford Foundry (OXFO), an entrepreneurship center at the University of Oxford, has convened a global taskforce of more than 60 leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists—including Mohamed Amersi, founder of the Amersi Foundation and Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter—to accelerate entrepreneurial solutions to the problems caused by Covid-19.

Since opening in 2017, the Foundry has accelerated 32 start-ups, and 13 of these are engaging in the fight against Covid-19. The ventures include a GP-to-patient remote platform, fever detection cameras, sensors to monitor NHS hospital bed availability, a communication platform for care home residents and families to keep in touch, and a remote tutoring app for students.

The first part of the Foundry’s action plan is to dramatically scale-up support and access to networks and grant funding for these 13 startups. The second part is the OXFO Covid-19 Rapid Solutions Builder, an initiative designed to find and scale up solutions to challenges that will arise from the pandemic, with startups going through a new two-month intensive accelerator program.

Search for COVID-19 Program Updates from business schools

GMAC have launched a new tool to let you search for coronavirus-related program updates for your target business schools, including changes to MBA application deadlines and more. Check it out here.

GMAT Online Exam: Reaction

April 15 Roundup 

GMAT Online Exam Reaction

The reaction to the GMAT Online exam among the business school community has been positive, with admission consultants praising the Graduate Management Admission Council's swift action. The online test is a boost to b-school candidates who want to enrol in an MBA or master's program this year.

The main concern seems to be over the need to use the online whiteboard to do calculations for the quant section of the exam. GMAT-takers fear this will be tricky and time consuming, and isn't a feasible way to complete a section that relies so heavily on note taking and calculations with pen and paper. We have contacted GMAC for comment.

Check out our GMAT Online Exam FAQs to get your questions answered.

Coronavirus Volunteering Ideas For Prospective MBAs

MBA admissions consultant, Stacy Blackman, has shared her ideas for MBA volunteering opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic. Find out how you can strengthen your leadership profile and stand out to admissions teams when it comes to applying to business school during the next application cycle. 

mba students coronavirus volunteering opportunities

Kellogg Waives Test Scores For Round 3 MBA Application

Kellogg School of Management has announced that the school is waiving the GMAT/GRE/TOEFL/IELTS requirement for students applying in round three of the Full-Time MBA application cycle, and the summer start cohort for the Evening and Weekend MBA Program.

The school is shifting the start date of the summer quarter by one month, to July 15th, with classes set to begin on July 20th. Currently, the hope is that the fall quarter for first year full-time MBA students will begin as originally planned, on September 21st, 2020.

Georgetown McDonough launches MBA scholarships for Mexican students

Some positive news amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Georgetown McDonough School of Business has established partnerships with two Mexican organizations to provide MBA scholarships and financial aid for Mexican applicants to its full-time MBA program.

The partnerships with the Fund for the Development of Human Resources (FIDERH) and the Mexican Foundation for Education, Technology, and Science (FUNED), will grant eligible Mexican citizens low-interest loans for tuition from the respective organizations, as well as merit-based MBA scholarships from Georgetown McDonough. FUNED recipients are also eligible for additional merit and need-based scholarships.

Loan recipients from FIDERH don’t pay interest during school and have a one-year grace period after graduating. FUNED provides loans of up to $15,000, and recipients are given a six-month grace period post-MBA and five years to pay back their loan—students are also eligible to receive merit and need-based scholarships of up to $40,000.