MBA Applications

Is an MBA in 2021 Worth It Amidst US VISA Bans and Looming Recession?

Before we start with anything, let us go back to the time when you first decided to do an MBA. Probably, “Is an MBA worth it?”, must have been one of the first questions that you needed an answer for. With the time and the money you need to invest to even get into your dream B-school, it is not surprising to have the question in your mind. But, now we are here in 2020 — Coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, H-1B, F-1 VISAs ban in the US and recession — and the question has become all the more important. And we know that you are looking for an answer to the question, “Is an MBA in 2020-21 worth it?”. Even if it is worth it, how do you know that?

To know whether an MBA in 2020-21 is worth it, we need to break the current situation down and understand it.

And that is precisely what we will help you do here. We will break down the current situation for you and then help you think and figure out whether doing an MBA in 2020-21 is worth it, whether it is the right time for you to apply to an MBA program.

By the time you finish reading this article, we are sure that you would have made up your mind about doing an MBA and about applying for an MBA this year.

So, here’s what we will take you through and here’s what will you help you make an informed decision about doing an MBA in 2020-21:

       1. Is an MBA in 2020-21 amidst the Coronavirus pandemic worth it?

       2. Should you do an MBA in 2020-21 amidst the H-1B, F-1 VISAs ban?

       3. Should you do an MBA in 2020-21 during the recession period?

       4. What are the challenges of doing an MBA in 2020-21?

So, let’s get started already!

1. MBA in 2020-21 amidst the Coronavirus pandemic

We are sure that you would have had so many plans for this year. Some of you might have had plans to travel while some of you might have had a really good business idea that you wanted to pursue! Meanwhile, some of you might have decided to take the GMAT, score well and do an MBA, right?

But then, the situation across the globe changed drastically and it all happened quickly. We hardly had any time to think before the governments started implementing lockdowns.

Also read: Coronavirus Impact on B-schools, MBA applications: 6 Things You Need to Know

Amidst all these chaos, is an MBA in 2020-21 worth it?

To all the MBA aspirants in India, we would like to tell you that you should go ahead and apply to your preferred B-schools in 2020. Those of you who are worried that you won’t be able to travel abroad to attend your classes, know that:

  1. You have plenty of amazing B-schools in India (ISB, IIMs, SP Jain…just to start with) and you can apply to them

  2. If you apply to a B-school abroad and are not permitted to travel due to the Coronavirus lockdown (Let’s hope that the situation gets better soon), you can still start with online classes

And neither of the two options mentioned above is going to bring down the value of your MBA!

Also read: MBA in India vs. MBA Abroad

So, if you had decided to apply to B-schools this year, you should not stop. In fact, it is time you started focussing on your MBA applications.

And to all the MBA aspirants abroad who are facing travel restrictions right now, you still have options to enrol into B-schools in your own country or as we mentioned earlier, begin with online classes and move to the campus later.

2. MBA in 2020-21 amidst the H-1B, F-1 VISAs ban

Not being able to travel to a country is one thing. But not being able to get a work VISA or a student VISA is another.

With the Trump administration’s decision to ban H-1B VISA, which let foreign nationals work in the US in a “specialty occupation”, people have started to have serious questions of considering the US as a place they want to settle down in. And the situation was made worse when the government announced the F-1 VISA (Student VISA) ban recently.

Both the bans had been imposed until 31 December 2020.

So now, what if you had decided to apply to the US B-schools in 2020? What can/should you do now?

If you had made plans to apply to B-schools in the US in 2020 and join the sessions in 2021, you should know that you can still probably do that. This is because the F-1 VISA ban has been revoked by the US government after many schools such as Harvard and MIT sued the government for the change in VISA rules. The only issue that you might have to watch out for is the travel ban during the pandemic.

But, when it comes to the H-1B VISA, the ban still stands. But there are definite chances that the new rule will change post the next election in the US. And also, at least as of now, the ban is only till the end of this year! You really don’t have to worry about the H-1B VISA right now.

So, take the GMAT and be ready. Things can change quite fast sometimes and it might be in your favour!

Now, what about the expenses, right? An MBA is not a degree that you can finance easily.

And especially during such a crisis period, we would suggest that you do not take high financial risks to pursue an MBA. We would suggest that you have a few options when it comes to funding your MBA.

You know that an MBA abroad, which is a two-year program, will cost you a crore and more, right? If you are really rich and if you have the money in hand, good for you! 🙂

Otherwise, you can always look for loans that will help you fund your education. But if you ask us whether you should take a loan during such an economic crisis, we would suggest that you try and get scholarships from whichever B-school you are aiming to get into. 

So, if you want to get a scholarship from your dream B-school, please don’t forget to prepare for your GMAT well. Your scholarship will be based on your GMAT score.

And here’s another option for you. The annual fee in B-schools in India will be slightly lesser than the B-schools abroad. Moreover, you don’t have to convert your Indian money into dollars. You are not losing much there either. So, if you are open to joining B-schools in India, you can reduce your expenses quite a lot.

Moreover, if you are from India, you already know the culture and you already have a network here. So, it is less effort and risk for you.

But, if you’re still keen on going abroad for your MBA in 2020-21 and want to know the options you have when it comes to financing your course, here’s everything an Indian student needs to know about financing an MBA abroad.

If you want to know more about applying to the US B-schools in 2020, you should definitely watch this video:

3. MBA in 2020-21 during the recession period

Let us give you some statistics.

During the last recession period in 2008-2010, IIM and other top B-schools reported a 15%-20% increase in applications for executive management programs.

And you should have, by now, realized that the world economy has crashed and that we are currently in the next recession cycle.

With so many people out of jobs and with even more students aspiring to complete their MBA before they enter the workforce, 2020-21 might see the largest yearly increase in MBA applications.

But, is an MBA during the period worth it?

An MBA during the recession period is worth it on three conditions:

     i. You want to upskill during the period and get a good job later

     ii. You have lost your job 

     iii. You had planned to do an MBA already

So, if you can resonate with any of the conditions mentioned above, our suggestion will be that you go ahead and submit your MBA application. This is the time that you should utilize to invest in yourself. And you are definitely not missing much on the job market front!

4. Challenges of doing an MBA in 2020-21

Remember how we said, “2020 is going to be my year!”, on the new year’s eve?

All of us know that nothing went as planned this year. It doesn’t look like this year has a plan. Or maybe it does.

But let us show you this image so that you know the challenges that you might have to face if you are applying for an MBA this year. We want you to be ready when you have to face them.

So, here are the five challenges of applying for an MBA in 2020:

      i. Might not be allowed to travel to your B-school campus

      ii. Might have to attend online classes for a while

      iii. B-schools might not have the best class profile

      iv. Might have to build your network online

      v. Not the best time to expect US work VISAs

*The points mentioned are not absolute. They will change based on what the year has in store for us.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration to start with your MBA applications, here’s what one of our MBA candidates, who decided to begin his MBA course in 2020, had to say:

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I realized that this is the best time to do an MBA. Every other company is cutting jobs and it is hard to find jobs. Even if I am to tackle all this and get a job, the career growth won’t be the same as what it would have been if it was before the pandemic. Instead of accepting a job for namesake, I decided to join a B-school and ride this out. I am hoping that in these two years, everything will get back to normal.”

Salman Khan is now in Canada, waiting for his MBA classes to begin in September. He is an MBA candidate at Schulich School of Business, Canada, 2020-2022.

So, we have tried our best to try and provide you with all the relevant information that will help you validate your decision to pursue an MBA this year.

We are sure that by now, you definitely have an answer to the question, “Is an MBA in 2020-21 worth it?”

As we mentioned in the article, these are the current situations across the world and most of it is not under our control. But the decision to pursue an MBA, the decision to invest in yourself and the decision to upskill are completely in your control.

So, if you have been planning to apply for an MBA this year, don’t hesitate. Just go ahead and apply for it. Especially if you are someone who quit their job and prepared for the GMAT, and has a good score, do not stop yourself from applying for an MBA in 2020-21.

If you are yet to give your GMAT, get your profile evaluated and see which all B-schools you should target, set your mind to score well on the exam and go ahead with your MBA applications! 

Commonly Asked Questions


  1. Should I defer if I have got a 2020 MBA admit abroad?

Deferring is always an option. Right now, all you need to consider is the year you prefer to graduate from the B-school. 

      2. Should I take the GMAT now if I want to apply in R1?

Taking the GMAT now is a good choice. It will give you some time in case you need to retake the exam and also, to prepare your MBA applications. And if you are looking to apply to B-schools this year, don’t forget to get your MBA applications ready!

      3. Will the H-1B VISA ban be extended beyond Dec 31, 2020?

As of now, the ban is only till the end of this year. It is quite unlikely that the US government will extend it given the number of foreign employees in the country.