Current And Future Impact Of COVID-19 On The Business School Curriculum

Business Schools Readily Adapt To The COVID-19 Pandemic

New research shows graduate business schools adjust the mode of delivery while maintaining the rigor and quality of the curriculum.
January 20, 2021

The MBA Roundtable, a global association of business schools whose mission is to advance graduate management education through curricular and co-curricular innovation, today released a new report, Current And Future Impact Of COVID-19 On The Business School Curriculum.  155 deans, directors, and faculty at 118 graduate business schools report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the business school curriculum in a MBA Roundtable research study conducted in November and December, 2020. The following are the key findings of the report.
Nine in ten (88%) report that business schools adapted the delivery mode for the business school curriculum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most expect the change to continue in the spring of 2021.
Nearly every respondent (98%) who worked with an in-person business school program prior to the pandemic report a change in how the business school curriculum was delivered in the spring of 2020. They report a shift to a hybrid (59%) or virtual (39%) environment. In addition, 43 percent of respondents that worked with a hybrid program in 2019 went fully virtual as a result of COVID-19. All those employed with virtual programs in 2019 (3%) remained online. 

The vast majority expect to remain in a hybrid or virtual environment in the spring of 2021. Nearly three-quarters (74%) expect to be in a hybrid environment in the spring of 2021, 23 percent expect to be entirely virtual, and 3 percent expect to be back fully in person in the spring of 2021.

While nearly all business schools adjusted their mode of delivery, fewer than half report COVID-19 as a negative force on the rigor or quality of the curriculum. Most also report that the ability of business schools to assess learning outcomes was not negatively impacted by COVID-19.

The majority of respondents report that the rigor (57%) and quality (56%) of the curriculum was not negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 59 percent report that a business school’s ability to assess learning outcomes was not negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Furthermore, the majority of respondents (53%) report that COVID-19 did not change the content of the business school curriculum. As one respondent stated, the business school curriculum “content has remained virtually the same;  a greater emphasis on student preparation has led to better classroom discussions, better breakout sessions, and better group work outside of class.”

Among those that did report a change in the  content of the curriculum, modified assignments (79%) and flexible deadlines (68%) are the most common adaptations. In addition, more than half of those who report changes have moved courses to pass/fail (55%) and changed instructional material (53%), such as developing more asynchronous materials. Furthermore, nearly all who report changes to the curriculum also report changes to student assessments (88%), such as adjusting time limits (58%) and adding online proctoring (53%). 

The move to virtual education challenged business schools in their effort to build community and engage students, however. Business schools responded by flipping the classroom and relying less on lectures.
The shift to a more virtual delivery of a business education created the near universal need for an online learning platform and raised challenges for building community and engaging students. Business schools responded to these challenges by increasing reliance on the flipped classroom (+72%) and lessening the use of lectures (-32%). As one respondent said, “moving towards a flipped classroom has been expedited and is much better for the student. Time together is used much more wisely and purposefully.” Another respondent believes that the “online flipped classroom model will likely continue after [the] pandemic.

Many business school courses used COVID-19 as a topic of discussion in the curriculum, but few created courses specific to the pandemic.
Only 17 percent report having developed a new course specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a topic of discussion, COVID-19 is most likely to be explored in Leadership, Human Resources, and Supply Chain courses. More quantitive courses, such as accounting and finance, are less likely to have COVID-19 as a topic of discussion.

To download the full report, click here.  
Contact: Jeff Bieganek, Executive Director – ext. 3

MBA Roundtable
in the News


How Is COVID-19 Changing The MBA Curriculum?


New research shows B-schools adjust mode of delivery while maintaining rigor and quality of curriculum


Pivoting in a Pandemic