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Will Business Schools Require COVID Vaccinations for Fall 2021?

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COVID-19 vaccinations will play a key role in the reopening of business school campuses across the United States this fall.

More double-dosed MBA and business master’s students will allow for classes to be filled again, on-campus events to recommence, and busy student life to resume as normal.

As it stands, just over 40 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated, with nearly 39 percent fully vaccinated in the UK. Other countries lag further behind: India has fully vaccinated just over 3 percent of its population despite a surge in COVID-19 cases causing uncertainty for many MBA applicants.

So will US business schools require that all incoming students be vaccinated? And does it matter which COVID-19 vaccine you receive?

Most US business schools will require vaccination

Many US schools will require that all students and faculty are fully vaccinated before returning to campus in fall 2021.

Wharton, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, are just some of the big-name US business schools who have introduced this rule for incoming fall semester students.

All schools requiring the vaccine, moreover, will provide both shots to those students who haven’t yet received one—particularly important for students coming from countries where vaccination programs are much further behind.

Students will receive a vaccination on arrival and will then be required to quarantine for two weeks. Second shots will be offered after the elapsed period. 

Some schools are also offering vaccine exemptions to students for medical or religious reasons.

Meanwhile, UVA Darden has announced that all students and faculty who are fully vaccinated will be permitted to stop wearing facemasks. This will also correspond with the end of any virtual learning, meaning tuition will return to being fully classroom-based. Other schools will still maintain social distancing and will refrain for recommencing large events for the time being. Wharton has confirmed that it will continue to encourage students and faculty to use PennOpen Pass—an app-based symptoms tracker—on a daily basis.

Which COVID vaccines are recognized?

There is some selectivity over which vaccines are recognized by business schools, with most US schools only accepting vaccines approved by either the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO).

These currently include vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), AstraZeneca, COVISHIELD, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

This has created some cause for concern among Indian applicants. Covaxin, developed in India and widely distributed among the Indian population, has not yet received FDA or WHO approval.

This could mean that Indian students will have to receive additional doses of recognized vaccines.

What about business schools outside the US?

Canada seems to be adopting a similar policy to the US. UBC Sauder School of Business in Vancouver, for instance, will offer all students COVID-19 vaccinations on arrival.

It's a different story in Europe. The UK aside, most European countries are much further behind in the vaccination process than the US.

At time of writing, Italy and Spain have vaccinated just over 20 percent of their populations, Germany just under 20 percent of its population, and France around 17 percent.

European business schools have not announced whether they will require vaccines for returning students in the fall, although many plan to keep social distancing restrictions where necessary.

It’s similarly unclear in Asia, with most schools yet to announce a clear policy on COVID-19 vaccine requirements for incoming students. However, schools like NUS Business School in Singapore have previously organized vaccines for graduate students.

We’ll be updating this article with new information as it comes in.

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