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Fall 2020 Reopening Plans At The Top 100 U.S. Business Schools

Updated: Oct 7

With Coronavirus still rampant across the United States, Schools are reassessing their plans for the 2020 fall semester. Some are moving up their start dates to the second week in August, with the goal to be finished with classes by Thanksgiving. Virtual learning will be common this winter; many schools that plan in-person classes have slated their finals exams to be held remotely.


Five months after COVID-19 shut down business school campuses and curtailed spring instruction and graduation functions, Coronavirus cases are still surging across the United States. In fact, it’s worse than ever, with new case tallies rising nationally every day and the areas that had been spared so far suddenly finding themselves grappling with the fatal pandemic.


Schools that had planned to resume normal studies in the fall are reassessing. Some are moving up their start dates to the second week in August, with the objective to be done with the classes by Thanksgiving. Virtual learning will be the norm this winter; numerous schools that plan in-person classes have scheduled their finals tests to be held distantly. MBA applications are up in the midst of an apparent improvement in applicants’ chances to earn a seat in the otherwise highly selective programs — but deferrals and deferral requests are up, too, powered to some degree by most schools’ unwillingness to reduce costs.

US universities started moving to remote learning considering the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Some universities, like Yale, are planning for another remote semester, while others, like Rice, expect to reopen campus with social distancing guidelines in place.

In deciding what the fall 2020 semester will look like for MBAs and other students — in-person, online, or a hybrid approach — business schools are mostly following the lead of their universities and colleges.

The situation is very fluid, however, and could change if the pandemic worsens nationally or locally. Hypothetically, things could show signs of improvement too, though most B-schools are planning for the situation on the pessimistic side. Of the 100 B-schools on the list, 32 belong to universities and colleges with accelerated schedules that start in the second week of August and finish in-person instruction before Thanksgiving in late November — Cornell, Duke, Dartmouth, and Emory Goizueta are in this camp. Some, such as SMU Cox, American Kogod, Arizona Eller, and a handful of others, plan to finish their classes in late November, then conduct the final tests online.

A few have announced they will go in-person until Thanksgiving, then remote for the next three weeks or so, then proceed with online exams.


One thing schools are happy not to have to contemplate: visa revocation for international students — who comprise a substantial chunk of most U.S. MBA programs — who do not attend in-person classes. That threat evaporated last week.


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Here's what the top US colleges and universities have discussed for fall 2020 reopening plans so far: Source for this blog: Poets&Quants

Keep reading our COVID-19 related GMAT news updates, & if you're planning to take the Online GMAT Exam, we've written an in-depth article talking about this new format of GMAT, with only 3 sections.

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