coronavirus COVID-19 grad school Graduate Admissions

Grad School in the Midst of COVID-19

By: Dr. Kristen Willmott

To say that the 2020 academic year has been interesting would be an understatement. We’ve been swamped with inquiries from parents and students trying to understand the changing college and graduate school admissions landscape.


Do you fall into any of these categories?

  • A current college student who was ushered off your college campus quicker than you could really even pack your bags,
  • On the job market or about to be,
  • A working professional whose hours have been cut and you’re now working from home, OR
  • A working professional who just got furloughed, laid off, or you’re worried you will be.

It’s new territory for sure.


  1. It might be a terrific time for you to apply to graduate school this May, summer or fall. Remember, just because you apply and get in doesn’t mean you have to accept. Many programs have extended their application deadlines so what was ordinarily a Feb. or March deadline has bumped out to May or June.
  1. Universities are actively brainstorming new ways to recover lost income. As Inside Higher Ed recently reported, the Penn State System of Higher Ed is expecting over a $52 million loss due to COVID-19 and that’s after the federal stimulus money they’re banking on is applied. Recovering part of that loss will be key and many schools are trying to assess if they want to admit students to study online only (meaning they could take more students, possibly even at a lower tuition rate than the on-campus offerings). Many more online-only degree programs from top graduate schools will emerge in the coming months, we believe.
  2. VISA and travel issues are at play for many international students and the programs they’re attending or want to. That impacts those seeking to start in August as well as those applying this fall who will now be applying to programs where the yields are low and they’re looking to accept more students than years past.
  3. Graduate schools are looking for new ways to snag students. For example, Loyola University reported that “graduating seniors with a 3.0 GPA and above will be offered “easy or automatic admission” into many of the university’s graduate programs, WITH a portion of merit aid. Students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.49 will qualify for a merit scholarship totaling 25% of the cost of the chosen program. Students with a GPA between 3.5 and 4.0 will qualify for 35%.” At first glance, that might sound like a great way to pursue graduate school. But really, what they are aiming to do is keep their students on (who they know can secure a 3.0 min.), AND lock in a committed 65% of the tuition and fees from students, as the merit aid is capped at 35%, they state). Grad-School-Standardized-Tests
  4. Standardized testing for grad school has entered ‘the new abnormal’ across the board:
    • The GRE, LSAT, GMAT, TOEFL and MCAT are not currently offered in person.
    • You can now take the GRE from home with a human proctor assigned to observe your screen.
    • Students in mainland China and Iran do not have a way, as of now, to take the TOEFL or GRE.
    • An online GMAT is now an option as well and the analytical writing section is removed.
    • Students who were registered for the April LSAT have been pushed to the LSAT Flex instead, which is remote.
    • MCAT exams have been canceled until May 21 but new dates have been opened up and registration for those starts May 7.

Try to take advantage of any benefits available to you when it comes to graduate school applications and admissions. Grab it while you can!


That might include deadline extensions, merit aid offers, prerequisites being waived, programs now accepting pass/fail in core courses pre-application, online options to take standardized tests from home, etc. If you’re prepping for the GRE or the GMAT right now, consider taking it this summer for SURE. It’s not going to hurt you. (EX: The GMAT online exam scores are valid for 5 years and will not count towards your 12-month and lifetime GMAT limits). If anything, it’s great practice and you might be surprised at the score you can obtain in your pajamas on your laptop in your bedroom. That’s a level of comfort with graduate school standardized testing that no one before you could snap up!

We are here to help you with your graduate school admissions questions. Space is limited so contact us ASAP. And, read more graduate admissions posts here and here.

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