How Will the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affect Top MBA Programs?

Written by ARINGO CEO, Ms. Jenifer Turtschanow

With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in high swing, we are seeing bold responses from America and Europe’s Top MBA Programs. All M7 US MBA programs (Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton, Booth, Sloan and Columbia) have transitioned to online learning. Many of the schools such as Wharton, have launched specialized courses on this timely topic (see: Epidemics, Natural Disasters, and Geopolitics: Managing Global Business and Financial Uncertainty).

Changes on campus have inevitably been followed by reforms in the MBA application process. INSEAD and others have offered leniency in its deadlines for GMAT and GRE testing, and most interviews have been moved to online rather than in-person formats. Similarly, Columbia has extended its final round for the August 2020 intake until the beginning of June. For those who are preparing to submit their MBA applications in Round 3, or for applicants, the outbreak of Corona has ushered in a time of uncertainty.

For the past 20 years, ARINGO MBA Admissions Consulting has amassed vast experience guiding MBA candidates through many economic booms and lulls. While no one has a crystal ball, we thought aspiring MBAs might benefit from our predictions on how the coronavirus will impact the MBA admissions trends in the near future:

  1. More people will apply to Top MBA Programs. Research from the Graduate Management Admission Council has shown that recessions are accompanied by an upsurge in enrollment to graduate school in general and MBA programs in particular. Because COVID-19 has sidelined many professionals, putting them on temporary or permanent layoffs, hiring companies will have their pick of the litter once the dust settles. As such, the strong networks and recruiting opportunities provided by MBA programs could provide a crucial springboard into the job market.
  2. MBA applicants will be more diverse. The tremendous changes in the market are forcing many professionals to contemplate career changes. Industries that have traditionally low attrition at the managerial level, such as hospitality and travel, are radically restructuring to cope with the challenges Corona has posed to their business. As such, professionals whose career trajectories were once clear will now aim to transition to new functions or industries, driving more applicants from underrepresented industries.
  3. One-year programs will become more popular. More professionals are likely to apply to business school in 2021, but they won’t want to be out of the job market for long. One-year programs such as those offered at NYU Stern and Kellogg offer the opportunity for management professionals to gain a prestigious credential that will help them stand out in a crowd while enabling them to jump back into the job market quickly.
  4. Applicants will stay closer to home. In recent years there has been an uptick in cross-continental applications, namely with American candidates seeking entry to prestigious schools in Europe. As COVID-19 has interfered with international travel, MBA applicants are more likely to stay in their own hemisphere. In the US, this could mean better chances for American candidates at schools where thirty to forty percent of the seats are reserved for international students. It could also mean improved chances for international students looking to matriculate to top MBA programs in the US.
  5. Top MBA graduates will become even more hirable. In economic downturns, leading companies will not be able to afford managers who give marginal performances or lack creativity. Companies will, therefore, be likely to rely on their recruiting efforts with MBA programs, through which they can vet and train candidates closely before hiring.

The COVID-19 is certainly a watershed moment in management education and in the global economy. As Top MBAs adjust to new realities, ARINGO will be here, tracking changes and helping our clients to leverage them.