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March 24, 2020

International Student MBA Deferment for Fall 2020

In general, whatever HBS does, I assume there is a good chance the rest of the business school world will follow.  Harvard Business School is  at the top of food chain, regardless in whatever their ranking at the moment might be or relative difficulty of entrance.  That has been one of my core assumptions about MBA programs and I think we see that is the case now.  And so my deferment assumption in my CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON U.S. AND EUROPEAN MBA PROGRAMS AND ADMISSIONS: THREE SCENARIOS from March 16th is now becoming a reality. On March 20th, HBS's admissions director, Chad Losee, communicated the following:
"We hope that the global situation around COVID-19 improves and that the suspension of visa services passes quickly. The Harvard International Office and we in MBA Admissions and Financial Aid will do all that we can to support students through the visa process. Any international admitted student who is unable to start the program due to a visa issue despite their best efforts will be deferred to next year’s MBA class."

Given that US consulates are closed for anything other than permanent visa issuance, no one will be getting a student visa from the US even if they could travel there.  How long this will last is uncertain but if it goes for months, this could pose a real problem for a possible start in fall 2020 on a US campus.
If you have been admitted for the Class of 2020, I highly recommend you do the following:
  1. Keep on working.
  2. Plan out a deferment strategy in terms of your career and life.
  3. If you are deferring, consider whether you want to apply for more programs for Fall 2021 entrance.
  4. If the school offers you an online/distance option instead of deferment closely consider the value proposition of a partially or fully delivered distance MBA.
The situation is obviously highly dynamic, so I think you should keep all your options open because in times like this optionality in planning is critical.
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