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Stanford Opens Door To Deferrals For International MBA Admits

Stanford GSB during more normal times

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business is inviting admitted international MBA students who are having difficulty getting student visas or facing travel restrictions to apply for deferrals. Candidates who postpone their MBA education may choose to enroll either in the fall of 2021 or the fall of 2022.

More typically, Stanford has a fairly strict deferral policy, only granting postponements in the event of serious illness, personal tragedy or military deployment. The decision to be more flexible follows an earlier move by Harvard Business School to allow all of its admitted candidates to defer their enrollment. As a result of HBS’ decision, the school expects to enroll a fall MBA class that will be more than 200 students short of its more typical 930 to 940 students per class.

The new policy change was disclosed by Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, in an email obtained by Poets&Quants. Stanford still expects to enroll a class this fall of that would be roughly the size of last year’s 415 incoming MBA students, according to Paul Oyer, senior associate dean for academic affairs. “We give her a number and she lands that plane almost perfectly every year, and this year there is more turbulence,” says Oyer in an interview with Poets&Quants. “Things are going to happen over the summer, and we will do our best to have the class size the way it is.”

MANY U.S. EMBASSIES ARE STILL OFFERING LIMITED VISA SERVICES

Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of admissions & financial aid at Stanford GSB

Moss’ email said the more flexible policy on deferments is a result of the challenge many international students are facing in getting a student visa to come to the U.S. “Despite our expectations that embassies would begin opening in July, many continue to offer limited visa services,” wrote Moss in a July 13th email. “We recognize the stress this has caused for international students who need a visa to travel to Stanford, and we want to support you during this challenging time.

“We know that obtaining a visa is out of both your and Stanford’s control, and we also cannot predict when embassies will resume regular operations. Given this uncertainty, we are offering those admitted students who need a visa to travel to Stanford the opportunity to defer enrollment. If you request a deferral, you may choose to enroll either in the fall of 2021 or the fall of 2022.”

While obtaining a student visa to attend a U.S. business school has become more difficult than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visas challenges have been a major reason for declining international enrollment in U.S. universities for several years.

JULY 22 DEADLINE FOR DEFERRAL REQUESTS

Moss set a deadline of July 22 for international students to request a deferral, pledging to respond to all requests within five days by July 27th. “We will not be considering deferral requests for those students who need a visa after July 22,” she added. “While we want you to have ample time to reflect on your enrollment options, we also need to finalize the Class of 2022 to prepare for the Autumn quarter. Consistent with our usual deferral approach, we will still consider other deferral requests, (such as those due to unexpected health challenges or compulsory military service), after July 22nd on a case-by-case basis.”

The complete email from Moss follows:

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Despite our expectations that embassies would begin opening in July, many continue to offer limited visa services. We recognize the stress this has caused for international students who need a visa to travel to Stanford, and we want to support you during this challenging time.

We know that obtaining a visa is out of both your and Stanford’s control, and we also cannot predict when embassies will resume regular operations. Given this uncertainty, we are offering those admitted students who need a visa to travel to Stanford the opportunity to defer enrollment. If you request a deferral, you may choose to enroll either in the fall of 2021 or the fall of 2022.

If you would like to defer your enrollment, you must apply for a deferral by Wednesday, July 22nd, and we will respond to your request by Monday, July 27th. We will not be considering deferral requests for those students who need a visa after July 22nd . While we want you to have ample time to reflect on your enrollment options, we also need to finalize the Class of 2022 to prepare for the Autumn quarter. Consistent with our usual deferral approach, we will still consider other deferral requests, (such as those due to unexpected health challenges or compulsory military service), after July 22nd on a case-by-case basis.

You are invited to join me on Thursday, July 16th at 8:00 AM PST for a Zoom call to discuss this deferral opportunity and address any questions you may have. If you are unable to attend, this session will be recorded and posted on MyGSB.

I want to applaud several of your classmates for surveying international students and providing insights on the concerns students have regarding their academic, career, and social experience if they need to begin the MBA program online. Dean Hayes will be sending a follow-up communication which describes the GSB’s plans for the fall and addresses some of these concerns. She also will be joining me on the call Thursday.

We are committed to you becoming part of the Stanford community – whether you choose to enroll this fall or in the future – and will continue to serve as a resource for you as you consider the options. While we respect that some people may decide to defer, our sincere hope is that many of you will begin your MBA journey this fall. The world needs leaders now, those who are impassioned to change lives, change organizations and change the world. We are excited to collaborate with you as you develop lasting skills during this extraordinary moment in history.

All my best,

Kirsten Moss
Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid