Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced that deferments will be offered to incoming MBAs if they choose not to attend fall classes that may be taught partially or fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Poets & Quants article, MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Director, Chad Losee, and Executive Director of the MBA and doctoral programs, Jana Kierstead, sent an email to accepted applicants offering them the period between May 15 and June 1 to request a deferral to start the full-time MBA program. Deferral requests can be for one or two years.
The email stated, in part, “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. To provide you as much flexibility as possible, we will consider allowing you to defer your offer of admission.” Deferral requests will not be accepted after June 1 “beyond medical emergencies, military deployments, or joint Harvard degrees. While we want to be as supportive as possible to you, one real constraint is the operational capacity of the faculty and the school.”
Deferrals available for the next two years
Depending on the number of students requesting deferrals, deferred enrollments may have to be spread out over two years (2021 and 2022). Students will request when they would like to begin their deferred studies, however, “…we will do our best to honor – but cannot guarantee – your preference of a one-year versus two-year deferral, as we balance the backgrounds and perspectives presented in the next few HBS classes.”
The email continues, “While we offer the choice about deferral in all respect for the challenges that you face, our hope is that the majority of you who can will decide to enroll in HBS this fall and use this as a time to learn and to deepen your capacity to lead. We look forward to partnering with you to make this a spectacular year at Harvard Business School.”
Why is HBS Offering the Deferral?
Linda Abraham (founder and CEO of Accepted) believes three motivations are behind HBS’ move.
- Compassion for admitted students who are now part of the HBS community. This deferral option gives students a choice: If they are hesitant to start their MBA partially online or after reading articles about canceled internships and withdrawn job offers, they can defer – or forever hold their peace. They won’t lose their spot in HBS, but they can delay the beginning of their coursework and increase the likelihood that they will have the networking and social interaction that they want in their MBA program. Not to mention recruiting in the event they cannot have it at the beginning of the next academic year.
- A way to manage yield and class composition. HBS gives admitted students two weeks in which to defer. HBS will then have a much better idea of who is going to show up (virtually or otherwise) for the first day of class and how many people to admit off its waitlist. It’s going to reduce the yield and waitlist guesswork. Plus HBS will determine if the deferred student starts in 2021 or 2022.
- A step to reduce complaining (and refund requests) from next year’s class if the Class of 2022 does start online or with various COVID restrictions in place, they all will have had the option to defer and didn’t take it. That’s the “forever hold your peace” part.
This new situation will also help those students currently waitlisted at HBS. New spots will certainly open up once accepted students have submitted their deferment requests.
Are you applying to HBS or another top MBA program? Do you have questions about whether now is the best time to apply to and attend business school? Work one-on-one with one of our MBA admissions consultants to assure that your application strategy is on track to help you meet your educational and career goals.