Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Harvard Business School Lets Incoming Students Defer Admission For Two Years Due To COVID-19

Poets&Quants, HBS To Offer Deferment For Incoming MBAs:

Harvard Business School (2020)In a move that will cause reverberations across the graduate business education universe, Harvard Business School has announced that it will offer deferment to incoming MBAs should they decide against attending fall classes that may be taught partially or entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email today (April 24) to accepted applicants, MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Director Chad Losee and Jana Kierstead, executive director of the MBA and doctoral programs, write that admits will have a window between May 15 and June 1 to request a deferral to start the full-time MBA program in 2021 — or even later — instead of this fall.

“We realize that the world has changed significantly since you applied — your employment, health, visa, or financial situation (or that of your families) may have shifted in the past few months,” Losee and Kierstead write. “To provide you as much flexibility as possible, we will consider allowing you to defer your offer of admission.” ...

Admission consultants expressed surprise at the news. “It’s unprecedented, but then, everything is unprecedented now,” says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions, a top MBA admissions consulting firm.  ... [I]t opens the floodgates for a million excuses.  I just have to wonder what the quality of the experience will be like for those who don’t defer. It could devolve into a big mess, and create even more uncertainty.”

Linda Abraham, founder of, believes the HBS move reflects a trio of efforts: compassion for admitted students, a way to manage yield and class composition, and a step to reduce complaints and refund requests over the transition to online classes.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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