2021 to be fiercely competitive for MBA applicants

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Acceptance into an MBA program may be especially challenging in 2021 due to the alignment of several factors, Wall Street Journal reports. 

At the start of the pandemic, applications to MBA programs for fall 2020 surged as students looked for ways to ride out an unstable job market. Full-time residential MBA programs continue to report more applications for fall 2021. 

These programs also expect to have fewer spots for 2021, since many offered enrollment deferrals to international students in 2020 due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic, WSJ reports.  

The deferral rate for all MBA students climbed from 2 percent in 2019 to 6 percent in 2020, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. 

Some programs are expanding 2021 class sizes. Harvard Business School, for example, plans to enroll about 1,000 students for the next two years — up slightly from its typical 930 enrollments. 

But the constricted resources of smaller MBA programs make it difficult for them to accommodate more students, especially after some had already reduced class sizes after several years of fewer applications.

"Everything points to this being the most competitive year ever for MBA applicants," Jeremy Shinewald, founder of admissions consulting firm mbaMission, told WSJ. "I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if schools crush their records for application volume."

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