Scott Edinburgh
August 12, 2021

US Business Schools Still Set to Reopen This Fall

While COVID-19 is far from over in the United States, particularly with the Delta variant surge, MBA programs have once again impressed us with their capacity to push forward. As with all business and academic institutions, MBA programs have had to adapt immensely since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The resilience of the MBA at large has certainly been put to the test.

However, despite the growing uncertainty and fear worldwide, many business schools still plan to resume in-person learning, allowing students to come together as a community and optimize their MBA experience.

While proof of vaccination and certain distancing, testing, and masking practices will be enforced, much of the MBA experience will feel (dare we say) normal. This is welcome news to the Personal MBA Coach team!

Below, Personal MBA Coach shares a glimpse into the reopening plans for some of the top US business schools. While protocols vary slightly from school to school, MBA programs are doing everything they can to ensure a safe and fulfilling fall semester for those returning to campus.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School is among the MBA programs welcoming students back to campus this fall. Per the school’s site page Keep HBS Healthy, Harvard no longer requires those who are vaccinated to observe physical distancing requirements, either indoors or outdoors.

Harvard Business School anticipates being able to relax restrictions further as more members of the community become fully vaccinated.

Currently, students will be able to gather in person, work in study rooms, schedule faculty office visits, and undertake university-related travel to certain locations. Student events are also expected to resume at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, another welcome change for Harvard MBAs.

Stanford GSB

Stanford MBA students will also be making the return to in-person learning similar to pre-pandemic conditions. To ensure this, there is a vaccine requirement for all students, faculty, and staff members, with limited exceptions.

The program has a number of events lined up, some of which will be held online. That said, indoor and outdoor gatherings are now permitted for both faculty and staff. Stanford GSB asserts that their “commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment” is a top priority.


Kellogg’s in-person classes began this summer and will continue into the fall quarter. Based on positive feedback on different modes of instruction during the pandemic, some remote and hybrid classes remain available. Various resources will be readily accessible to those who opt to take these remote courses.

For those returning to Evanston, the school will also host in-person events, beginning with pre-orientation for first-year students later this month. While there may be some indoor campus events for which masks are required, this opportunity to come together in person is an exciting step forward.

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School is among the MBA programs welcoming students back to campus this fall, beginning with an orientation for first-term students in August 2021. The COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff, though certain religious and medical exemptions will be provided.

In a recent letter regarding the fall semester return to campus, Columbia Business School’s provost shared the school’s commitment to being transparent, supportive, and responsive to the community’s needs. The school is confident that every step in the return to campus has been planned carefully.

Dartmouth Tuck

Per a notice sent to students earlier this month, Dartmouth Tuck plans to resume their traditional in-person teaching format, allowing both faculty and students to be back in the classroom. This decision upholds one of Tuck’s main guiding principles to transition back to their in-person learning community as soon as safely possible.

Access to classrooms will be limited to folks who are fully vaccinated, apart from those who have received an official exemption. Students can also seek accommodations for remote learning if they wish to do so.

Currently, the First-Year Tuck Launch is already in full swing. After a virtual Admitted Students Weekend earlier this year, the class of 2023 is surely thrilled to gather in Hanover in preparation for their first year at Tuck. Second-year students returning to campus will arrive in early September to resume their studies.

UVA Darden

Darden asserts that many aspects of their fall 2021 MBA experience will return to pre-pandemic operations, including in-person living and learning. Like the previously mentioned programs, the school requires all students who live, learn or work in person to show proof of vaccination. However, students may seek a medical or religious exemption.

Currently, there are no limitations on the size of events or other gatherings, though UVA will continue to take measures to stop the spread of the virus on campus. Along with proof of vaccination, this includes testing, contact tracing, and quarantining as needed.

The school expects that clubs, organizations, sporting events, and other key aspects of the student experience will be able to return this fall.

Despite these exciting shifts to in-person learning, Personal MBA Coach has learned from recent conversations with admissions directors that some virtual practices are here to stay. For instance, as we shared in our blog on the latest business school admissions trends, virtual MBA admissions events and interviews remain readily available. These virtual alternatives are a great option, as they level the playing field for candidates who face geographic or economic barriers.

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!