Beginning your MBA programme in Fall 2020? Here’s what to expect

Social distancing and wearing face masks in class will likely be the norm for MBA classes in 2020.

By U2B Staff 

Read all stories

The year 2020 is the year of disruption for education, including those pursuing an MBA. Universities, colleges and schools are all facing their own challenges during this period of uncertainty.

Most programmes went online for the Spring terms but due to unprecedented times, it remains difficult to predict exactly how academic programmes like the MBA will be delivered in the coming months in 2020.

While some students have chosen to defer, many others are going ahead with their plans to study the MBA whether it will be delivered fully online or not.

With recessions already happening or just around the corner, now is a good time to look at upskilling yourself and developing valuable skillsets to give you an edge over the job competition through postgraduate degrees like the MBA.

For those enrolled in Fall 2020 programmes with an August or September intake, what can you expect? Will in-person classes resume or will you be learning from your own home? Will you be able to mingle freely with your peers? While it’s still too soon to make any definite conclusions, here is likely what to expect in Fall 2020.


Some face-to-face classes may resume

In countries with reducing infection rates, in-person classes may resume but in smaller groups. It’s likely that MBA programmes in 2020 will take place through hybrid learning: a combination of online and face-t0-face learning.

Large lecture halls don’t allow for proper social distancing, so smaller group sizes may take place in-person while bigger classes may be conducted online.

In Switzerland, MBA classes have already resumed for the first time in nearly three months since the campus was closed due to COVID-19 at the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Class sessions were broken up into two different sessions: one group of 45 students attending class in a classroom while another group participated through Zoom.

In the UK, London Business School plans to begin programmes via online learning for a brief time before transitioning to a hybrid model two weeks later.

Similarly, Cambridge Judge Business School in the UK will also be offering a form of blended learning. A statement reads, “Cambridge Judge Business School will be open to welcome students to Cambridge, offering face-to-face interactive sessions with leading academics which will be blended with online provision, to safeguard well-being.”

However, in certain universities, it seems likely that Fall 2020 will be entirely online. Harvard University recently announced that six of its graduate schools will not be holding any face-to-face classes this fall, although the Harvard Business School has not yet announced if the MBA will be held online.

Personal hygiene and protection will be emphasised

The new normal in 2020 means that there will be an emphasis on keeping students and staff protected. Students may be required to wear face masks in class and classroom surfaces should be disinfected thoroughly while adhering to social distancing measures. Temperature checks will likely be conducted before every class, and those with high temperatures may be sent to a quarantine room or clinic.

At the IMD in Switzerland, it was reported that every student in face-to-face classes is surrounded by plexiglass partitions 3.6 feet high and 2.6 feet high. Staffers wipe down these partitions with disinfectant before class, as well as doorknobs and handles. Professors are also wearing face shields while conducting classes.

It will largely depend on government guidelines and standard operating procedures on how universities will be keeping staff and students protected from the virus, but it’s expected that there will be a major emphasis on sanitation, personal protection and cleanliness in the new normal.

There may be social bubbles

For the Fall 2020 MBA cohort, social life will be quite different from previous semesters. The Guardian recently reported that university students in the UK may be kept within “physically distanced social bubbles” when campuses reopen in September.

This means that students will be allowed to mix only with those in their own courses, residence halls and year groups to reduce infection risk on campus. Students and staff will also move around campus in a one-way system.

Virtual events will also likely replace campus events such as group discussions,  networking or mixer events, so be prepared for this if you’re an MBA student in Fall 2020.