The pandemic is significantly affecting the normal activities of the world’s individuals, institutions and governments. Among these organizations, universities are not exempt from suffering the consequences of COVID-19. If you have been accepted to a graduate school that starts classes in the fall of this year, or you are looking to apply to start that semester, some of the questions you are surely asking yourself is: what will happen if the pandemic continues in the fall? Will it be operating? the University in September? In this article, we will tell you what you could expect from certain universities and certain countries in an emergency situation.
Remember that, so far, no entity has considered that the “quarantine” or “stoppage of activities” caused by coronavirus extends until September. However, there is a possibility that the outbreak will last a few more months . For this reason, the measures currently being taken could continue until the start of the next academic cycle.
- Universities with government-led phase-based plans: Some universities have established that they will have a plan to reopen their campuses based on phases, in accordance with their government’s reactivation plan. Thus, the workers who need to make use of the university facilities to carry out their work (as researchers) and essential staff will begin to work, to finally resume all face-to-face activities with the new normal.
Examples of universities that have decided to be guided by this plan during the 2020-21 period are Harvard University and MIT, which will follow the plan announced by Governor Baker to reactivate Massachusetts in four phases.
For the Fall 2020 period, most Harvard schools have announced that they will teach online classes (Divinity School, School of Design, School of Education, Kennedy School, Law School, and School of Public Health) while others have not yet have announced their plans (Business School, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Radcliffe institute for Advanced Study).
For his part, at MIT, President L. Rafael Reif stated that “depending on current public health councils, and after modeling a wide range of scenarios, it does not seem very likely that we will all be on campus together this fall. ”. It should be noted that they will be carrying out activities to find out the opinion of their community regarding the decisions that are made through surveys and online meetings.
As for the University of Oxford, it guarantees that classes will develop normally in the Fall 2020 period and for the 2020-21 academic year. It should be noted that this university will not follow a phased plan for the reactivation of the campus, but claims that they are following the directions of the government. It also stated that “The supervision of face-to-face teaching and research will be supplemented by high-quality online activities when necessary” and more information will be given as the situation develops and in accordance with government advice.
- Universities with case-based plans:These plans are based on studying the development of the current situation and all possible scenarios of the effects of the pandemic to determine if the classes will be held in person, online or a hybrid. Unlike the previous paragraph, this type of plan will be announced a little before the start of the academic period, while the one based on phases has an approximate time that each phase will last and, therefore, the start of activities in the campus depending on the individual’s activity.
This is the case of Stanford, which for the Fall 2020 period will begin one week earlier, that is, on Monday, September 14, and classes will end before Friday, November 20. This, without affecting the freedom that some schools can establish their own calendar. Thus, final exams for most graduate students will be held remotely the week after Thanksgiving. Regarding the period in 2020, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell (2020) expect “that professional and graduate education will advance almost to full capacity next year, albeit with some instruction and research conducted online.” It is planned to carry out a hybrid model of face-to-face and virtual classes, without neglecting the use of face masks and social distancing measures in common areas.
For its part, the University of Cambridge announced that, due to the impact of social distancing, classes will be taught in an online format for the entire 2020-21 academic year, including the Easter period ; always guaranteeing a high quality education. Regarding the beginning of the academic year, she commented that they will receive advice from Public Health England to ensure that their plans are effective to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. They will continue to provide face-to-face classes as much as possible and this activity will take place in small groups. In addition, since the social distancing will have an extended duration, mass classes will be suspended in person and they will be available online. Finally, the University highlights that it plans to offer a wide range of activities that enrich the experience of its students and that they plan to restore the full teaching program as soon as possible.
- Universities still conforming to the plan:Due to the uncertainty that still exists regarding the evolution of the pandemic, many universities are in the process of evaluating the situation to determine when it will be safe to resume activities on campus. Despite this, some institutions have determined the exact or approximate date in which they will have more information about the development of the classes in the next and more distant periods.
This is the case of the University of Toronto, which is looking for plans that allow students to begin their studies in person for the 2020-21 academic year. However, if public health institutions advise against doing so, the University will continue to offer classes online. This will not affect the campus experience as there will be various co-curricular activities and opportunities that will ensure an excellent student experience.
University of Chicago announced plans for Fall 2020 period will be announced in late June, which is being developed keeping in mind the academic quality, public health considerations, government guidance and sustainability financiera.En Columbia University ‘s plans for each of the periods Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 will be announced by the first of July.
At Yale University, President Salovey will announce the pattern of classes to be followed (classroom, online, or hybrid) for the fall semester in early July. At the moment, it has been announced that The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The Schools of Art, Divinity, Drama, the Environment, Music, Nursing and Public Health will begin classes on August 31 and the calendar for the first one will be published shortly.. In the case of the Law, Administration and Medicine schools, they will begin classes before that day, without announcing a specific day.
Regarding the Fall 2020 period, Northwestern University has not announced plans at the moment but it is expected to be in the summer. In the long term, the campus is planned to reopen in 6 phases, with the last phase expected to return the majority of undergraduate and graduate students to campus.
It should be noted that the restart of activities will depend on the evolution of confirmed cases with Covid-19 in the entity where the institution is located, so that in some areas they may begin to restart activities before others. In the event that for the Autumn 2020 period you can study in person, consider that you will urgently need appointments with embassies to process the necessary student visa. Remember that several embassies and consulates are currently closed, so you may have little time to process your papers. Check the time of procedures in embassies, especially the one in the United States, which at the moment is the special case for student visas.
In the event that you have to take your classes online, remember that the best universities already have extensive experience in online programs and are developing different activities to guarantee an excellent student life experience. In fact, they currently offer several postgraduate courses in this modality. So the better the university, the more certain it is that online classes will not disrupt the quality of teaching.
As you might imagine, we remind you that the education you will receive from your program could be temporarily virtual, so you have to prepare properly for this type of teaching. It has its pros and cons, but it is a step towards what is possibly the education of the future.
This should not, however, be a factor against your decision to apply for a competitive graduate degree, as times of crisis are the best time to specialize. The condition is favorable, since it represents a turning point in the path that is being taken. Therefore, do not give up on your applications, as they continue in one way or another.
Although the experience of living and studying in another country is one of the important factors in deciding to study abroad, this is not the only factor, not even the most important. A world-renowned diploma gives you a globally competitive profile and prepares you just to weather crises like these.
What will the admissions process be like in the best universities in times of contingency?
Regarding the admission processes in contingency times, below we share the most recent updates of the most competitive programs and universities.
Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
The HBS MBA program has already started its first round with a deadline of September 8, 2020 and January 5, 2021 for round 2. If you want to know more about applying in the first round, we recommend you read our entry Countdown: 90 days for the deadline of the first round to the MBA. At the time, the business school of this institution had extended the deadline (which has already expired) for the round of admissions of its 2 + 2 program until June 1, 2020 at noon Eastern time. Given this change, the results will be released on July 28, 2020 at noon ET.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The MIT has announced that it will modify the admission process or deadlines. However, to ensure that the reviews of each applicant’s applications are individual and holistic, he stressed that the admission offices and committees will take into account the inconveniences that the COVID-19 pandemic may cause when reviewing the admission documents.
However, if you had the opportunity to apply to the MBA Early Admissions on June 2, 2020, the admission result will be announced on July 15. The admissions deadline for August 2020 has an extension until June 15. The admission results for this new third round will be sent periodically and, if they need to do an interview, you will be notified as soon as possible.
This university has not modified the admission process or the deadlines. However, it has published that, as they are aware that this pandemic can delay courses of study and presentation of official school documents, if you are affected you can request an extension by email: [email protected].
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has already started the first round for the year 2021. In the following table we show you the most important dates when applying.
|Round||Deadline to apply||Results delivery dates|
|Round 1||September 15, 2020||December 10, 20202|
|Round 2||January 6, 2021||April 1, 2020|
|Round 3||April 6, 2021||May 20, 2020|
University of Cambridge
This university has extended the deadline to meet the offer conditions (such as English language test results and delivery of documents) until August 21, 2020. If even with this extension you do not think you can have the documents on time and you believe you meet the conditions before your course begins, you can request an extension to the email: [email protected].
In the case of the condition of presenting an English language exam, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition Test will be accepted, but, in the case of not being able to access this modality, you will have to check the availability of test centers in your country to do so in person. You can even use an English language test that is up to 6 months out of date to meet this requirement. Both options will be complemented by a requirement for online monitoring by the Language Center of this University at no charge.
On the other hand, if you still do not have news about your acceptance to this university, it may be late due to inconveniences caused by COVID-19, so you should be aware of the application portal. Also, if you applied to receive financing through this portal, it is important that you know that financing is still being given but it encourages you to seek alternative resources.
If to study you need the ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), after not being receiving applications temporarily, you are already receiving them again.
The University of Cambridge will not be accepting applications to postpone your studies to October 2021, but if you like to do it for the term of spring break you can do it from your self-service account. However, it must be emphasized that deferrals are possible, but remain at the discretion of the department running the course.
University of Oxford
This institution has not made changes to its admissions process. If the program you are interested in conducts interviews and you are shortlisted for one, it will be conducted remotely and the academic department will contact you for more details.
It should be noted that due to the closure of the test centers, different options have been offered to meet the requirement of the English language test. So you can meet this requirement with one of the following options:
- Take English exams up to 5 years old before the start date of the course of your interest.
- Demonstrate that you have completed a degree or undergraduate degree in the last 5 years at a recognized institution that has been full-time, with a duration of at least 9 months and taught and assessed in English.
- Present the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, with the same scoring characteristics as the TOEFL iBT test centers.
- If you have already taken the English language test but you were very close to reaching the minimum requirement, you can contact the academic department to consider those scores. In this case, you must attend English courses at no cost when you start your studies at this university.
- Take the intensive online course taught by your Language Center if the required score is reached in the final evaluation.
Furthermore, the University of Oxford will not be accepting deferrals due to the pandemic. If you need to postpone your studies for individual and unforeseen causes such as health problems or grief, you can do so by following the standard deferral policy.
There are some delays in reviewing applications, so you may receive your admission results up to more than 10 weeks after submitting your application. If it is necessary to know this result as soon as possible, you should communicate directly with the academic department of your course.
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto has announced through a statement that due to delays in the TOEFL and GRE tests, it will try to make the deadlines flexible for applicants for graduate admissions. If you continue to have difficulties taking these exams and experience problems with the administration, you can contact the email: [email protected].
It should be noted that you will be able to stay in contact with the admissions team through virtual meetings, calls and email.
University of Chicago: Chicago Booth and Chicago Harris
The Chicago Booth School of Business has postponed its deadlines for some of its programs. In the case of the Full-Time MBA program, it extended its deadline from April 2 to May 31. Also, due to the closure of the GMAT / GRE test centers, they will be accepting your scores until July 1, 2020. On the other hand, the Executive MBA program extended its deadline until June 1, 2020.
In the case that you have applied to a full-time master’s program at the Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in round 3, you have to know that they will be giving the admission results continuously and the deadline to confirm is yet to be determined. It should be noted that this institution informs that the admissions committee will take into account all the difficulties that this pandemic could have caused applicants when reviewing their application. If you need guidance, you can stay in touch with the admissions department through calls and email, you can take advantage and have a one-on-one meeting at Zoom with a team member if you think it is necessary.
The remotely taken exams accepted by this institution are the GRE and TOEFL. It is necessary to emphasize that there have been delays regarding acceptance decisions, so if you need to know as soon as possible to make a decision, you will have to contact the admissions office of your program directly. Your studies may be deferred after accepting your offer of admission. If you want to do so, you will have to contact the emails provided in your admission letter.
Columbia University (CBS)
In the case of the Business School of this university, the deadline for submitting your standardized test scores was postponed until July 1, 2020 for the programs: 2020 August Full Time MBA, Deferred Enrollment Program, and EMBA New York Fri / Sat.
Yale School of Management
The Yale University School of Management has taken various measures to address the difficulties caused by this pandemic: the interviews will be conducted virtually, round 3 has been extended, and additional time will be given to submit the GMAT or GRE score. The application deadline for this extended round 3 is May 27, whose admission decisions will be announced in the second half of June.
Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University
This institution has already started its rounds to apply for the Evening & Weekend MBA Program and Executive MBA Program. In the case of the Executive MBA Program to study in the period of January 2021, the deadline for round one is August 19, 2020, and for round two, October 7, 2020. Likewise, for the Evening program & Weekend MBA the deadline to be admitted in Winter 2020 is September 30, 2020 and for Spring 2021, January 6, 2021.
Most of the postgraduates to start studying in Fall 2020 are taking actions not to suspend the acceptance of applications. That is, they are allowing candidates to present documents a short time before starting the program in which they were admitted, or they are giving various options so that you can meet the admission requirements; this, mainly for the requirement of the English language test.
If you have already sent your application to start your postgraduate course in Autumn 2020 and you still do not meet all the requirements such as language tests or required documents, it is important that you check the official pages of the programs that interest you, since they are constantly being updated and are being flexible about these issues. In the event that you have questions about other ways to meet the requirements or that it is not possible for you to meet them before the established date, we recommend that you send an email directly to ask.