THE LATEST: Covid-19 Responses, Vax Requirements & January Plans At The Top 25 MBA Programs

At Harvard Business School and elsewhere, classes in the new year will begin remotely. Photo by Amelia Kunhardt

Coronavirus is raging again, and that has U.S. business schools adjusting post-holiday plans on the fly.

With the Omicron variant causing a worldwide spike in Covid-19 cases, many — but not all — of the top 25 B-schools in the U.S. are planning to return to remote instruction in the first weeks of January. However, for many schools that means only minimal disruption to in-person classes, as they don’t start the semester (or quarter) until the third or fourth week of the month.

Further mitigating the disruption to schedules and operations — or so B-schools hope — is the fact that just about all of the top 25 schools now require vaccinations and boosters, with very limited exemptions for religious or other reasons.

See below for current policies (as of December 28) and January plans at each of the top 25 schools, including links to Covid-19 dashboards and latest messages from leadership.

This story will be updated regularly with new developments. 


Stanford Graduate School of Business: On Jan. 5, Russell Fur, associate vice provost, announced that all non-essential academic gatherings are prohibited in indoor settings until January 28. Conferences, social events, religious services and other gatherings should be moved outdoors. Read more here.

Classes will begin online for the first two weeks of the winter quarter before moving to in-person instruction on January 18. Students may return to campus on-time from the winter break and do not need to change their travel plans. Other university operations will continue. Read more here and here.

Chicago Booth School of Business: Students have until January 24 to get their COVID-19 booster shot, while the staff deadline is January 31.

The University of Chicago is delaying the start of Winter Quarter for most schools and divisions — including Booth — by one week, to January 10. Additionally, the university is moving to a remote-only instructional format for the first two weeks of the quarter. In a December 24 message, Ka Yee C. Lee, provost, and Katie Callow-Wright, executive vice president of the university and chief of staff in the Office of the President, wrote: “We have far more tools for mitigating the impact of Covid-19 than when the pandemic began. Although we are taking these temporary measures as a precaution, the University greatly values in-person instruction, and we are committed to returning to it as soon as conditions allow.”

Wharton School: All students, staff, and faculty are required to get a COVID-19 booster shot by January 31.

Wharton will begin undergraduate classes as scheduled on January 12 in virtual formats online (except for clinical courses), and then transition to in-person classes on January 24. It will also delay undergraduate student move-in to campus housing by one week, to begin on January 15. More detailed information will follow in the coming weeks; students in graduate and professional programs will receive additional guidance from their programs, as will postdoctoral fellows. In a December 23 message, Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania president; Beth Winkelstein, interim provost; Craig Carnaroli, senior executive vice president; and J. Larry Jameson, executive vice president for the university health system, wrote: “Recognizing the high level of concern about the omicron variant and its potential impact on spring semester operations, we have been consulting closely with medical and public health experts, as well as monitoring data concerning the variant’s spread. While this is an uncertain situation, the data modeling suggests that we must take steps to prepare for a potential surge of cases in January.”

Northwestern Kellogg School of Management: Booster shots required by January 30 for staff and students coming onto campus.

Northwestern will shift all classes and co-curricular activities to remote modality from January 1 through January 17, though students are welcome to return to campus on the regular schedule. In-person classes and activities will resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday, January 18, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. See Poets&Quants‘ recent story on Kellogg’s plans here.

Harvard Business School: Booster shots are required by January 31, or within 30 days of eligibility.

All Harvard University classes are remote for the first three weeks of January; however, HBS classes don’t begin until January 24. See Poets&Quants‘ recent story on Harvard Business School’s plans here.

MIT Sloan School of Management: Spring semester begins January 31. Sloan requires vaccine boosters by January 14 for all students, faculty and staff.

Columbia Business SchoolA booster mandate was announced in December with a deadline of January 31.

Remote until January 18, affecting some graduate programs. The move will delay Columbia’s planned January 4 opening of its new campus in Manhattanville. As Jonah Rockoff, senior vice dean for curriculum and programs, tells P&Q: “Per Columbia University’s COVID-19 Task Force, the first two weeks of classes for the Spring 2022 semester, where applicable, will be conducted remotely. We will provide a remote orientation experience to our entering January term students with plans to physically return to our new home in Manhattanville on January 18th. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is always our highest priority. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make any adjustments as necessary.” For faculty, staff, and students involved in instructional activity, the first two weeks of classes for the spring 2022 semester will be conducted remotely. Read more here.

Dartmouth Tuck School of Business: Boosters required for eligible students and staff by January 31. This week’s classes were moved online, but in-person classes are expected resume on January 10.

UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business: Continuing to plan for fully in-person instruction in the spring. Boosters shots required as soon as eligible.

Yale School of Management: Classes begin January 18. Start of spring semester has been pushed back to the beginning of February for Yale College and graduate Arts & Sciences students, with implications for SOM as well.

See the next page for plans at Duke Fuqua, Michigan Ross, and the rest of the top 25 U.S. B-schools.

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