MBA Stories: A School-By-School Collection For 2020

What a year!

Last January, deans and employers alike were asking the same question: Is the full-time MBA dying? After all, applications had been down, thanks to a turbo-charged economy and a wave of new graduate degree options. Come summer, applications surged as prospective students sought shelter from a pandemic that wreaked havoc on retail, real estate, and recreation.

It was surreal year, as professionals ditched their downtowns to huddle behind their laptops. Recognizing the risk – and sizing up an opportunity – business schools did the unthinkable. Some waived GMAT and GRE requirements. Others opened up to LSATs and MCATs. Many extended deadlines or offered deferrals. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School added 85 students to their usual class size; Harvard Business School shrunk by nearly 200 students. As always, a few brave institutions stepped forward to boost scholarships or hold the line on tuition.

A Harvard Business School classroom Pre- and Post-COVID


What was the biggest change? Online learning became a powerful tool available to all. A year ago, the virtual platform was relegated to online MBA programs or MOOCs. Come March, business schools scurried to get their full-time MBAs online. A decade ago, business schools were plotting out $200 million dollar buildings that were rendered empty by the pandemic. As COVID spread, administrators were forced to rethink their priorities and allocations top-to-bottom.

In 2020, responsiveness and functionality became the differentiators.

It wasn’t always an easy transition for students, either. Online or hybrid – or even separated by plexiglass dividers – MBAs warily navigated a new normal, ever conscious of the shifting rules of engagement. Many worked overtime to forge bonds, supporting those who were separated by time zones or struggling to adapt. There was dissension, no doubt, as some students questioned the value of paying full tuition for an online experiment. A few times, groups took risks that inevitably boomeranged back on their classmates. In the end, MBA learned about disruption by experiencing its impact first-hand. That gives these classes a decided advantage. Come graduation, they’ll bring those rare tools – grit, empathy, and ingenuity – to proactively tackle the big problems and make an impact.

When 2020 began, COVID was just another virus plaguing a province across the world. A STEM designation was an innovation. Now, it is a prerequisite. Before George Floyd’s passing, social justice was an area where MBAs dabbled. Now, it is a business building block – a mission to pursue greater diversity and equity. In 2020, analytics and sustainability continued to gain traction, as data-driven models and long-term considerations increasingly guided decision-making. It was a year of contrasts: higher MBA pay undercut by lower placement and cancelled excursions smoothed by greater alumni engagement. In 2020, everyone worked harder and lived in the moment. Here, MBAs learned the most profound of lessons: nothing – health, loved ones, opportunities – can ever be taken for granted.

What happened in 2020 at your target schools? From Arizona State to Yale, here is a school-by-school breakdown of the biggest stories at the top MBA programs.


10 Business Schools To Watch In 2020

100 Best & Brightest MBAs From The Class of 2020

MBAs To Watch In The Class of 2020

Meet The Most MBA Disruptive Startups Of 2020

Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2019

Biggest Myths About Your Favorite Business Schools

Best MBA Traditions At Top Business Schools

2020 First Generation MBAs: The Bold, Brilliant, and Big-Hearted

Who Wants To Be An MBA Billionaire? Here’s The Schools With The Most Super-Rich Alums

All The New Professors At The Top 25 U.S. Business Schools

Meet The Top European MiM Programs

All The STEM Programs At Major U.S. Business Schools

Best 40 Under 40 Professors

Meet The MiM Entrepreneurs Of 2020

2020 Ultimate Guide To Business Masters Programs In The U.S.


Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class Of 2022

ASU  W. P. Carey School Launches Fast Track MBA


Babson College (Olin)

Babson Entrepreneurship Hub Launches $300M Campaign


Lecturer Robert Strand, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business, demonstrates one of the four new Berkeley Haas virtual classrooms. UC-Berkeley photo

U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Meet The Berkeley Haas MBA Class Of 2022

The Future Of the MBA Is Happening Right Now At UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Haas MBA Programs Are All STEM-Designated

Berkeley Haas Launches Deferred Admission Program

For This Young Couple, A Haas MBA Is A Two-Year Honeymoon

Haas Plans To Open This Fall With Hybrid Formats

Haas MBAs Startups Looks To Shake Up Credit Card System

Despite COVID, The Incoming MBA Class At Berkeley Haas Has Already Bonded

At Berkeley Haas, The Hard Work To Balance B-School Cases Is Underway

At 20, He’s The Youngest MBA Ever At Berkeley Haas

Applications Are Up At UC-Berkeley Haas, But Acceptance Rate Jumps, Too

UC-Berkeley Haas Launches Black Venture Program

Berkeley Haas Dean: We’ve Doubled Scholarships, Made The School More Inclusive

‘It Was A Tough Year’: Berkeley Haas Releases 2020 MBA Jobs Report

UC-Berkeley Haas Wants To Be The Top B-School For Sustainability


University of Cambridge (Judge)

Cambridge Judge Will Welcome Students To Campus After All


Entrance to the Tepper School

Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Meet Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s MBA Class Of 2022

What Carnegie Mellon Tepper Is Looking For

Tepper’s Back To The Future Move Toward Management Science

Tepper Class Of 2019 MBAs Urgently Call For Retroactive STEM

Carnegie Mellon Finds A New Dean In Canada: Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou

Amazon’s ‘Bulge Bracket’ Based On Tepper MBA’s Experience

The Tepper Take: My Long Path to Business School

Another Top-25 B-School Won’t Require The GMAT This Cycle

The Tepper Take: Community Makes All The Difference

2020 MBA Jobs Report: Tech Takes 2nd At Tepper As Consulting Surges


Looking for your favorite schools? You’ll find news collections on the following pages:

Page 2: C-G (CEIBS-Georgia Tech)

Page 3: H-I (Harvard Business School – Ivey)

Page 4: L-N (London Business School – New York University) 

Page 5: O-W (Oxford-Washington University)

Page 6: W-Y (Wharton-Yale + Centre Court Admissions Director Interviews and Master’s Degree Guides)

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.