COVID-19: Prospective Students & Online Learning [Survey]

Matt Hazenbush

Matt Hazenbush -

Matt Hazenbush is the editor of

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, most prospective business school students surveyed in June say they haven’t changed their school plans but would accept and enroll if classes were forced to started online, according to the latest findings of an ongoing survey to measure the impact of COVID-19 on prospective students’ pursuit of a graduate business school education.

Among the total sample of June respondents, nearly 7 in 10 (68%) said they have not changed their plans as a result of COVID-19, while 14 percent said they are now more willing to consider fully online program options.

Consistent with findings in April and May, 59 percent of June respondents said that if accepted into the programs they were applying to for fall 2020 enrollment, they would most likely accept and enroll if classes had to begin online. Thirty-nine percent said they would defer, and two percent said they would decline.

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Prospective students would want to shift courses back to in-person quickly

Starting online is one thing, but most prospective students wouldn’t want to do much more than that. When asked what percentage of their program they would be willing to complete online versus in person, 44 percent of June respondents said between just 1 to 25 percent, and 24 percent said 26 to 50 percent. Only 15 percent indicated they’d be willing to complete more than half of their coursework online.

Prospective students clearly value the in-person experience

Survey responses make plain that prospective students think they would miss out on a significant part of the value of business school if their experience was entirely shifted online.

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About 8 in 10 (78%) June survey respondents disagree that an on-campus experience offers the same value as an online degree. Similarly, 85 percent disagree that networking opportunities are the same and 76 percent disagree that career opportunities are the same.

Though most haven’t changed their plans, COVID-19 continues to hamper the journey to business school for some

While most candidates say their business school plans haven’t change, in June 38 percent of survey respondents indicated that COVID-19 has impacted their pursuit of business school a lot or a great deal, up from 33 percent in April and 35 percent in May.

Overall, 41 percent of June respondents say they are very or extremely concerned about what COVID-19 means for their ability to pursue a graduate business degree in the future. About half (51%) say they’re thinking about delaying their plans; of those candidates, a little less than half (44%) plan to delay between 7 and 12 months.

Many can now choose between the GMAT Online exam and the test center experience

A consistent finding of the survey since its launch in March is that prospective students are concerned about their ability to take an admissions test because of test center closures (56% in June).

As test centers in many locations are now reopened and accepting testing appointments, many examinees can now choose between the GMAT Online exam and the test-center experience. Both can help you stand out in the business school admissions process, but which is the better fit for you? We break down the differences between the two testing experiences so you can decide for yourself.

Are you currently applying to business school? Our Key Pieces of My Application guide gives you step-by-step instruction on how to make your application stand out in a pool of qualified applicants.


Matt Hazenbush

Matt Hazenbush -

Matt Hazenbush is the editor of He has more than six years of experience writing and speaking about graduate business school and careers. Prior to leading the team, Matt was the Research Communications Senior Manager for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). In that role he was responsible for key GMAC Research reports, including the annual Application Trends Survey and Corporate Recruiters Survey reports, as well as research white papers and briefs. Matt earned a B.A. in History and Communication from Boston College, and an Ed.M. in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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