Newly appointed Wharton School dean Erika James announced the program's shift to a remote model to students in a program-wide town hall meeting Friday morning.
Fall 2020 instruction for all MBA students will take place largely online, with in-person offerings made only when it is essential to meet curricular and/or pedagogical requirements, Vice Dean Howie Kaufold wrote in an email to Wharton's MBA Class of 2021 and 2022 on Friday afternoon. Incoming international first-year students will be able to get a support letter from the MBA program confirming they are attending a hybrid program, which will allow them to enter the United States this fall in light of recent federal restrictions.
Although tuition costs will not be adjusted, students will be able to apply for financial assistance through the Wharton MBA Financial Relief Fund. The relief fund aims to support MBA students who incurred unexpected expenses related to COVID-19 disruptions, Kaufold wrote.
The estimated total budget for Wharton's MBA program is $222,540 — including tuition and fees, room and board, health insurance, and other personal costs.
Wharton will not enforce an upper limit for the MBA grade point average this fall, in continuation of policies put in place in spring 2020 when the University transitioned to remote learning, Kaufold's email read. Wharton will, however, return to standard pass/fail grading, he wrote.
There will be no Wharton-sponsored co-curricular activities in person on campus in efforts to enforce the school's Remote Plus fall model. Kaufold wrote that Wharton is still committed to making the remote experience "inclusive, engaging, and educational."
To promote community engagement this fall, a newly launched "Remote Together" initiative will connect first and second-year MBAs in various cities to study together, prep for interviews and socialize in "pods," which will also be connected to local alumni.
The Office of Student Life, alongside Wharton Graduate Association leadership, will reach out to students in the coming days to solicit feedback on potential engagement efforts, he wrote.
In a previous message to the Wharton community on July 9, Wharton Dean Erika James announced the school's plan for 'Remote Plus' fall instruction, which would have allowed students to alternate between virtual and in-person learning with sections of a maximum of 24 students in a classroom at any given time.
Students who are interested in pursuing a leave of absence must inform the MBA Program Office by Sept. 8 so their request can be reviewed. A leave of absence from the MBA Program can be granted for a semester or academic year as long as the student finishes their degree within five years of their expected graduation date.
On Friday afternoon, Provost Wendell Pritchett and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli sent an University-wide email writing that the vast majority of undergraduate fall classes will be held online, with very few in-person offerings. All students returning to Philadelphia will be expected to obey the Student Campus Compact, which outlines guidelines for behavior on campus, and cooperate with University-wide testing mandates and contact tracing initiatives.
Penn previously announced on June 25 that the University would follow a hybrid model of instruction and campus life, maintaining that plans could change depending on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.