New MBA Application Deadlines for 2020
In light of COVID-19, with GMAT and GRE testing disruptions, travel bans and other implications of the new quarantined reality, Business schools have, at the very least, seen themselves forced to extend their Round 3 application deadlines, and in some cases even create a novel Round 4 for application submissions.
As rules change by the day, and no one seems to be able to predict what will be the scenario a month from now, let alone what will be the case in September 2020, when business schools expect to receive their new cohort. Such unpredictable reality has a toll on MBA admission, and whereas in the past we would expect a Round 3 to complete the remaining seats available in the MBA program – something close to 10% of the spots – this number may be completely underestimated for this year. My prediction is that after completing their Round 2 of enrollments (admitted candidates that go ahead and pay the enrollment fee), schools will still have approximately 20-30% of the seats remaining. Reasons supporting such prediction include the difficulty in obtaining a F-1 and J-1 visa at the moment (as of March 18th, 2020 U.S visa processing has been suspended worldwide) and since international students apply by Round 2, there will be a significant number of candidates who will reconsider their MBA plans for Fall 2020 – while I expect most to be resilient and follow with an initial semester online, if it comes to that, many will feel robbed of the MBA experience that they signed up for. With this in mind, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria announced that Harvard will issue deferrals for admitted students who desire to do so. Wharton has decided to do the same.
In light of these unprecedented consequences, some schools are also laxing requirements: the Kellogg MBA at Northwestern University announced a Rolling Admissions Round 3 in which applications can be considered without the GMAT, GRE, TOEFL and IELTS test scores up to June 1st, 2020. UT Austin McCombs is offering waivers for the GMAT and GRE, whereas INSEAD and MIT are allowing for the GMAT or GRE to be presented at a later time, and the latter has created an Extended Round 3 with Rolling admissions until June 15th. Duke University Fuqua School of Business has added a Round 4 admissions, with deadline on May 19th. Other schools that have extended their deadlines include UCLA, UT Austin McCombs, and UV Darden – Darden has also announced an alternate starting date for their program in January 2021.
The bottom line is – who in fact benefits from these “new rules”? In my opinion, the impact is directed primarily to a similar candidate pool to be expected in regular Round 3 application – for U.S MBA programs, only prospective candidates who do not require a study visa actually have a shot – and in general, there are less scholarships (if any) awarded for Round 3. But, the complete exemption of a strong gatekeeper such as the GMAT might make it tempting to at least try for a last minute application. The impact of this to the Class of 2022, only time will tell.