Uncertainty is a lingering feeling that many people are experiencing right now given the current events surrounding COVID-19. This feeling is especially prevalent for individuals considering whether to apply and commit to a graduate program.
Recent graduates, full-time workers trying to advance their degrees and individuals who are seeking a career change may all be asking themselves this question, “Is now a good time to pursue a master’s degree in business?”
Many people currently share the common goal of beginning an MBA or another related graduate degree in a business field such as accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing or supply chain management. There are many unique factors that go into a decision this large, but this article aims to help answer some of the most prevalent questions by utilizing input from b-school professionals.
Should prospective students still be applying to graduate school right now?
The executive director of graduate admissions and student recruitment at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, Christopher Wszalek, advises that any student already considering it should still do so. In fact, Whitman has added another application round of May 15.
Wszalek explains, “We are also seeing standardized testing organizations like the GRE and GMAT developing and offering online testing solutions due to social distancing guidelines. We don’t want students to give up their pursuit of graduate school for this fall.”
In addition, the Whitman School will be accepting the Duolingo English Test in replacement for the TOEFL exam. Many other business colleges around the country are following similar routes of extending deadlines and revising the required application materials.
Dean of the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester, Andrew Ainslie, states in Poets and Quants, “Apply now, and apply to schools that a year ago you couldn’t dream of getting into. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to get an extraordinary education.”
In addition, for people who were not intending to go to graduate school, it could be a prime opportunity to start the process. Wszalek explains, “As the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to impact the global economy, it is uncertain what will happen once we are all able to go back to business as usual. What will be the new normal? This could be an opportunity for students to get their graduate degree now while the economy sorts itself. Then, reentering the job market after completing the master’s degree will make the candidate more sought after by employers.”
What degrees are high commodities?
Wszalek shares, “The fastest growing area in education seems to be programs revolving around analytics.” Whitman offers an M.S. in business analytics that provides students an option to develop those analytics skills that are in high demand.
Many MBA programs are offering opportunities for students to concentrate in other areas of business and customize their class schedule for a unique education.
“The Syracuse full-time MBA offers students the ability to complete two specializations without adding any additional credits hours to their academic plan. This feature has kept the Syracuse MBA relevant in this very competitive landscape.”Christopher Wszalek
What are the benefits of earning an MBA specifically?
“On average an undergraduate student would see a $20,000 increase in salary after earning their MBA versus their starting salary after their bachelor’s degree. The earning potential continues to grow over the course of an individual’s career as they develop professionally with increased work experience,” states Wszalek. “The MBA not only offers this excellent ROI, but it also is an extremely versatile degree the allows graduates to pivot into many industries throughout their career and pursue leadership roles.”
Assistant Director of Recruitment for Master’s Degrees, Travis Clines, explains, “In uncertain times we want to find stability. To me, education is one of the most valuable things a person can have. It prepares them for a future of uncertainties by giving them the skills and understanding necessary to not only survive uncertainty but to thrive in it.”
How will student loans and financial assistance be different given the circumstance related to COVID-19?
“It is still to be seen how student loans and financial assistance will be impacted long term by COVID-19, but we do know the immediate impact of student loans not currently collecting interest. However, in the coming months, I believe there will be more scholarships and financial assistance available to students who decided to pursue their graduate education now. Higher education institutions are adapting each day as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve. I would recommend students follow this situation closely,” shares Wszalek.
Syracuse University seniors can also expect financial assistance with a new Forever Orange Scholarship. Eligible members of the class of 2020 will receive half off tuition for a full-time graduate degree or certificate, if they are accepted and enroll in a master’s program. Students are automatically eligible for the funding and no additional application materials are necessary.
Shouldn’t students be fearful to apply now since there is an unknown about whether in-person courses will be moved to online?
Syracuse University Chancellor, Kent Syverud, has announced that courses are expected to resume on-campus this fall. However, that is not the case for all universities yet and the pandemic may derail some student’s abilities to move and afford college this coming fall.
Wszalek understands the fear and uncertainty many students and prospective students may be feeling right now. However, Whitman has changed policies to make the decision process easier for individuals.
Wszalek explains, “if a student is admitted and confirmed to enroll, they would always have the option to defer to future terms if they ultimately decided not to attend this fall. We continue to follow the guidelines from the CDC in regard to COVID-19 and as the University makes future decisions we will also respond accordingly.”
Clines believes that students can expect to still receive a quality education even for classes that might remain virtual for various reasons this summer and fall. He states, “many of our on-campus professors currently teach a course in our online programs and have extensive experience teaching online so that students can get the most out of that medium.”
COVID-19 has impacted many lives and disturbed the typical process of applying and earning admittance into graduate school. Although there are new hurdles associated with the application process, now could be a great time to figure out if an MBA is something worth considering. This could be a great opportunity to apply to graduate school for those who lack work experience, want to accelerate their careers, or simply need a change in their professional life.