Like all educational institutions, Harvard Business School is grappling with how to proceed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. International admits fear that visa issues may affect their ability to start when the term begins this fall. Other admits have reservations about the prospect of an online or blended learning structure that may affect the entire first year. So, what’s a premier business school to do?
HBS Deferral Option
HBS has opted to offer maximum flexibility to admits whose MBA journeys have been hampered by the coronavirus. Therefore, it will allow deferrals to any Class of 2022 admit who wants one. Admits must apply for the HBS deferral option between May 15-June 1. Depending on the number of deferral requests, some students might get deferred for two years instead of one.
“Our learning model depends on bringing together exceptional leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” MBA Director Chad Losee explains. If that means enrolling a smaller class than the typical 930, he says they might do so. However, Losee previously noted that HBS has maintained a larger than usual waitlist this season.
Implications for the 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle
Upon hearing about the HBS deferral option, the number-one question on future applicants’ minds is: Will there be fewer spots available in upcoming classes?
At the moment, HBS has no clear-cut answers. But Losee notes that the university is focused on addressing the issue. “We are working hard to balance doing right by those we have admitted this year and preserving the opportunity for you to enroll in the future,” he explains.
For now, the admissions team will wait to see how many admitted applicants request a deferral. Once that happens, they can give thought to the overall class size that HBS may be able to accommodate for the Classes of 2023 and 2024.
“The pandemic is teaching us that the world needs leaders who know how to innovate (…) and lead others,” Losee writes. “I invite you to consider how HBS can help you make a difference in the world and hope that you will choose to apply.”