Getting an EMBA During Covid-19: What You Need to Know

Expect personalised admissions, flexible study abroad plans, and a stronger community.

Getting an EMBA During Covid-19: What You Need to Know

Across the globe, there is no more “business as usual”. Transformational leadership is moving some companies forward, while others are visibly struggling. Executives now need to be equipped with resilience, creativity, and a knack for technological innovation. A top EMBA programme can offer the perspective needed to thrive in this new environment.

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What do you need to keep in mind as you take this next step? How are business schools responding to the Covid-19 challenge? How can that impact the admissions process and your choice of programme?

Ready for disruption

One thing that has become evident during the crisis is that EMBA degrees are uniquely suited for exactly this kind of large-scale disruption. In recent years, thriving during change has been one of the essential competencies that top-ranked programmes aim to develop. For example, ESADE Business School (Spain) makes instilling a “growth mindset” its number one priority. HEC Paris encourages students to keep moving out of their comfort zone. And Yale School of Management (US) offers customisable study tracks that get students ready for the fourth industrial revolution.

Global outlook

A common trait of the highest-ranked EMBAs in recent years has been a global outlook. The CEIBS Global EMBA (China) allows students to take modules in 11 cities worldwide. ESADE students also travel around the world, including to Cape Town, Mumbai, and Shanghai, and can take electives in countries that include the Philippines, Brazil, and Vietnam. The renowned Trium EMBA, which unites HEC Paris, LSE in London, and NYU in New York, is in itself a global journey: students travel the world for a year, spending no more than two weeks in any given city. Along the way, they develop an understanding of geopolitics and technological disruption.


The highest-ranked programmes are also similar in their flexibility. At HEC Paris, students can choose from five start dates throughout the year. ESADE, Yale, and CEIBS all encourage students to create their own itineraries that include study and immersive experiences abroad. More and more programmes are letting students choose different tracks and add electives.

In light of Covid-19, the programmes at some schools are becoming even more customisable than before. Global travel is ongoing, with tailor-made changes where necessary. The Duke Fuqua School of Business (US), for example, announced that it “may relocate a Global Executive MBA residency from one city to another as conditions change in different parts of the world.”

An EMBA right now is a valuable lesson in agility, embracing change, and seizing new opportunities. It may even involve a bit of adventure.

Different stages of recovery

Covid-19’s greatest impact has been on admissions. The situation varies depending on where the school’s main campus is located. In Europe, the admissions process is going on as usual, even though many recruitment events are still taking place online. In the US, things look a bit different. Both Duke Fuqua and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management have moved admissions entirely online – all interviews are virtual, and campus visits are not yet possible. At Fuqua, the next programme start date is delayed by a month.

Read: At-Home Versions of Executive Assessment, GMAT Now Available

Admissions requirements are also now more flexible in some US schools. Fuqua is accepting GMAT and GRE test results older than five years, and it even allows students to waive the test on a case-by-case basis. Students may apply without transcripts from their previous studies. Similarly, Northwestern Kellogg accepts unofficial transcripts in place of formally issued ones, and allows applicants to take the GMAT or GRE after they submit their application. Generally, US schools are encouraging candidates to contact them directly and work on a tailored admissions experience in 2020-2021.

In China, on the other hand, Covid-19 recovery is ahead of other parts of the world and the admissions process is currently back to normal. Live events were suspended earlier in the year, but they have now resumed. For example, CEIBS has coffee chat meetings coming up in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai in July. For those based outside of China, online events are available as well. Candidates should refer to the academic calendar and admissions criteria.

A stronger EMBA community

Doing a globally oriented degree at a time of disruption poses a unique challenge, and schools are stepping in to offer creative solutions – from flexible admissions to individually tailored programmes of study. One other change during the pandemic is the way the EMBA experience creates a stronger community for students. Living, learning, and traveling together in these unusual circumstances creates bonds that will last a lifetime. For those ready to embrace change, EMBA programmes offer a network of people ready to take on the challenge together.