The majority of business schools in the United States are planning hybrid MBA programs for their full-time MBA classes beginning fall 2020 as they deal with the disruption of COVID-19. On hybrid programs, students combine face-to-face experiences with studying online.
From the M7 schools—a group of elite business schools in the US—to the rest of the pack, it’s a challenge business schools are facing globally. How do you reopen campuses safely and deliver on the promise of a high-quality full-time MBA education without jeopardizing the health of students?
Most business schools in the US are starting with a mix of in-person and online MBA classes, allowing for social distancing rules to be respected in the classroom and for international students who may be delayed getting their visas to the US to begin their MBA remotely.
There are also strict hygiene protocols in place and widespread testing available to keep any outbreaks hopefully under control.
Here, we highlight the latest COVID-19 campus updates for top business schools in the US. This page is regularly updated with the latest campus reopening plans for MBA students.
COVID-19 Campus Updates: US Business Schools
The M7 business schools
On October 14th Chicago Booth announced it was moving classes online for two weeks after a number of students tested positive for coronavirus after meeting off-campus.
There is university-wide COVID-19 testing in place at Harvard for anyone authorized to be on campus. The majority of Harvard’s community is learning remotely, and Harvard Business School is one of only two of Harvard’s 12 degree-granting schools with in-person class hours.
In the seven days to September 28th, the school had carried out 15,9210 tests, with six new positive results. That's a positivity rate of 0.04%. There is a track and trace system in place, and Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) will begin contact tracing for the greater Harvard community if an individual tests positive.
Anyone with known exposure to a positive case will be required to quarantine and may need additional testing, as these individuals may also be infected.
All HBS students and partners may come to campus without additional permissions to use public spaces as long as physical distancing is maintained and face coverings are worn.
The University is currently operating on reopening level two, which requires hybrid MBA teaching, remote executive education teaching, and remote-only on-campus recruiting and company presentations.
Kellogg School of Management
Kellogg School of Management is offering its programs in hybrid and virtual formats for the fall semester. Classroom and co-curricular experiences have been designed to dissolve barriers between faculty and students in the classroom and those online.
The hybrid model brings together faculty and students in class, while there is an ongoing live collaboration with virtual peers—this allows for proper social distancing protocols to be followed.
Everyone returning to campus has to download the Kellogg COVID-19 Daily Health Check App. All individuals on campus must submit a health check every day, and an agreement to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct every quarter.
The daily health check requires students to report any symptoms and receive a badge of entry for Kellogg’s campus buildings. It also allows students to view any scheduled or assigned seating arrangements for courses or events.
Hybrid Model (planned)
The Sloan School of Management moved all in-person instruction online for all programs, except the Executive MBA, between September 16th-and-September 22nd after two large gatherings of MBA students in public parks were reported to Sloan administrators within a week.
The school is now back to its original planned schedules before the temporary closure, with some classes in person.
Stanford falls in Santa Clara County in California, which under the California COVID-19 guidelines has restrictions in place for indoor lectures and student gatherings. The County is currently operating on a red level, with a substantial risk of COVID-19.
This means capacity for indoor lectures and student gatherings must be limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less. Student activities must be conducted virtually when possible.
Stanford is preparing for multiple teaching modalities in line with the Santa Clara County restrictions. This includes the creation of outdoor space for instructions, and some use of classrooms if the county is removed from the watch list.
The school plans to test all students on arrival and throughout the fall quarter. Each student living in Stanford residence will be tested twice in their first week. Non-essential travel has been suspended through to January 4th, 2021.
Individuals who have travelled outside of Northern California are restricted from returning to campus for 14 days unless the test negative for COVID-19 at least five days after their return.
Wharton’s MBA will be conducted almost entirely online for the fall semester. In a message to students Wharton vice dean, Howie Kaufold, explained that while the MBA program will be delivered largely online this fall, the school will provide academic requirements in person where it is essential to have an in person experience to meet curricular or pedagogical requirements.
First-year international students can get a support letter from the MBA Program to confirm they are attending a hybrid program in Fall 2020.
More Hybrid MBA programs:
Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management has also announced plans for the fall semester. The school’s MBA students will arrive on campus for a hybrid model of teaching. The school’s website says there is a robust virus testing system in place, and modifications to the academic calendar have been made allowing students to begin classes on September 2nd and return home for Thanksgiving to complete the semester remotely.
Duke University is currently in phase four of its reopening plan, bringing students back to campus for the fall 2020 semester. Students are required to wear a mask on campus, practice social distancing and regular hand hygiene, and complete regular symptom checks.
In a message to students on the school’s website, dean Bill Boulding explains that the dominant teaching method will be live, in class modules. The majority of these classes will simultaneously teach to students participating face to face in class, and those participating online.
Fuqua MBA students will have access to the same rigorous testing regime currently available to Fuqua’s undergraduate population if symptomatic or exposed to the virus.
Michigan’s Ross School of Business is being informed by public health experts at the University of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State of Michigan.
Faculty and staff have worked over the summer to design courses that will be delivered both on campus, in person, and remotely around the world. The school will adapt as the situation unfurls.
Students have the choice of whether to attend courses in person or virtually. Some courses are entirely online. Ross program offices will continue to communicate directly with students about their fall courses and experiences.
There is strict guidance for anyone on campus. If you are sick, stay home. Face coverings must be worn everywhere on campus, inside and outside, and people must maintain a minimum of six feet distance at all times.
Enhanced cleaning of high-traffic areas will occur during the day, and the entire Ross School campus will be deep cleaned each night after hours. Students, faculty, and staff are advised to wash hands regularly and hand sanitize.
There are also spaces available for individuals who develop symptoms on campus, and the University of Michigan is providing COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
NYU Stern’s Bloomberg terminals are not available for the fall semester to groups. Access will be transitioned online and on an individual basis.
The school has introduced an enhanced cleaning and sanitation strategy and has installed sanitizing stations around Stern’s buildings. The number of people permitted to classrooms has also been reduced to ensure six feet distance can be maintained between students and 10 feet between students and faculty.
All of NYU Stern’s classes will be providing remote access for students who want or need it.
Each student’s timetable will have a designated mode of delivery noted next to each class. There are four modes of delivery in place. For in person classes, most classes will take place in the classroom minus the students who are remote. A few classes may be online.
For all online classes, there will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous content and work. Rotation means that roughly half of the classes will be in person and roughly half will be online. Blended means that each class session will meet in person on campus, but in each session half of the students will be present in class and half will be online.
To enter an NYU building the Daily COVID-19 Screener for Campus Access is a requirement. Students must receive daily authorization before entering an NYU building.
Unless eating or alone in a closed office all members of the Stern community are required to wear a face covering, and students who feel sick should not go to class.
Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business commenced on time as planned with a blend of in person, hybrid, and online classes.
There is mandatory COVID-19 testing of all students upon arrival to campus, as well as an initial 14-day quarantine for all students. Those who travel out of state during the academic program are also required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
There is a daily health screening for students, faculty, and staff. Face coverings are required, as is social distancing. Gatherings are limited to 10 people, and there is a strict cleaning protocol in place for all classrooms and common areas.
Since July 1st, there have only been six confirmed cases: five among students, and one among staff and faculty.
Yale School of Management
The new MBA cohort at Yale School of Management will be split between two groups, A and B. Students will be assigned an A/B schedule, with each course alternating between classroom and online teaching.
Students assigned to A or B should attend in person on the days that correspond to that schedule. Students may only attend on their group’s scheduled days, and cannot swap with another student. Students may opt out of attending in person classes at any time (permanently) by notifying their instructor.
Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Ourso College of Business
LSU will continue to monitor and alter their protocols for the fall semester in line with local, state, federal, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The fall semester and on-campus instruction began as planned on August 24th. The Fall Holiday, planned for October 8th-to-9th is cancelled and after the Thanksgiving Holiday, held between November 25th-and-27th, students will not return to campus.
All post-Thanksgiving classes and final exams will be held online.
All classrooms at LSU will be at a 50 percent occupancy rate, and everyone is required to wear a mask properly over their nose and mouth. There is a cleaning protocol in place in classrooms using the CDC’s enhanced cleaning protocols. Classrooms are also stocked with cleaning supplies.
Larger classes with higher numbers of students have been moved online, and most classes are being held in larger spaces to allow for students to spread out.
TCU Neeley School of Business
TCU Neeley's Full-Time MBA, along with the rest of the university, has adopted a hybrid model. Some classes are in person, some are fully online, and others have a portion of the class online and in-person.
Fully-online MBA programs:
A memo on the American University website confirms that all fall undergraduate and graduate courses will be conducted online with no residential experience as the school continues to monitor the spread of the pandemic.
Going forward the school is hopeful that a residential and blended class structure can be introduced and may be possible in the Spring as conditions improve. The situation is fluid and the school will adapt as and when new government guidance is released.
The University of California Berkeley announced it will begin the fall semester with fully remote instruction. On campus administration will continue preparations to implement hybrid and/or flexible modes of instruction as soon as public health conditions allow.
The school’s website confirms that a fully remote option will be kept open for all students but the university will also be prepared to implement plans for select in-person instruction activities for those students who can take advantage of them, as conditions allow, even if it is part way through a term.
All teaching will be fully remote after Thanksgiving, even if there is the ability to pivot to some in-person course delivery during the semester.
The instructional model for fall 2020 remains a hybrid model for international students. Switching to remote instruction is a temporary measure.
A document submitted by Georgetown University to the District of Columbia and accepted in August 2020 outlines the school’s plans to reopen for the fall 2020 semester.
“Courses for all students will begin in virtual mode for the Fall 2020 semester. Classes will begin as scheduled by each academic program. We hope to introduce in-person course elements as soon as public health conditions permit.”
This article was last updated September 29th 2020