Harvard Business School

Harvard University #

City: Cambridge
State: Massachusetts
Country: United States

About #

Founded in 1908, Harvard Business School is one of the most prestigious business schools in the world. It is located in the heart of Cambridge, right outside Boston, Massachusetts, the intellectual and cultural capital of America, and it is known for being the home to the world’s first MBA program. Harvard consistently ranks number one in the US and Canada, and it is part of the elite global group of top schools.

Harvard University, named after its first benefactor John Harvard, was established in 1636 and it is considered the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. In its first years, Harvard University, also known as Harvard College at the time, quickly became the central cultural establishment among the Boston elite. Following the American Civil War, president Eliot transformed the college into a modern research university, and in 1900, Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities. Harvard University is the alma mater to some of the most prominent and successful individuals in the world. Its alumni include 8 US presidents, 188 living billionaires, 79 Nobel laureates, 10 Academy Awards winners, 48 Pulitzer Prizes winners and 108 Olympic medalists, amongst other things.

Harvard is also famed for the development of the case study method, and their case studies are used by undergraduate and graduate schools all around the world. The case study method is a teaching approach that uses decision-forcing cases to put students in the role of people who were faced with a difficult decision in the past. In contrast to many other teaching methods, the case study method requires students to put themselves in the shoes of a decision maker and use all of the in-class knowledge to make an important decision that is going to shape a company’s future. But, most importantly, the case study method refrains instructors from providing their own opinion and it requires the students to do the thinking.

Ranking #

#5 USNews – Best Business Schools
#7 QS Global MBA Rankings 2021

MBA Program Overview #

The MBA at Harvard Business School is a two-year full-time program with a general management curriculum focused on real-world practice. The MBA curriculum at Harvard Business School is constantly refreshed and updated. Their learning model goes beyond theory – students at the HBS MBA program are taught not only how to manage organizations and make decisions, but also how to continually grow and improve as they go through life.

Year One Description #

In the first year of the program all students pursue the required curriculum, with the aim of building a broad foundation of management concepts and skills, including finance, leadership, marketing, negotiations, operations and strategy, among other things. All students go to the same classes and are taught using Harvard’s well-known case study method and a number of hands-on projects.

Fall Semester Mandatory Classes

  • Finance 1
  • Financial Reporting and Control
  • Leadership & Organizational Behavior
  • Marketing
  • Technology & Operations Management
  • Short Intensive Programs
  • Leadership and Corporate Accountability
  • FIELD Global Immersion

Spring Semester Mandatory Classes

  • Business, Government, and the International Economy
  • Strategy
  • The Entrepreneurial Manager
  • Finance 2

Year Two Description #

During the second year, students are able to choose from a number of elective courses which are aimed at helping them build on the basic concepts from the first year. Students are allowed to take up to five courses per semester and are able to cross-register for courses in other graduate programs. The elective curriculum aims to offer students depth, breadth, or both, depending on their choice. They are able to choose from over 100 courses in ten different subject areas, and can also enroll in field-based learning opportunities.

Application Process #


In order to apply for HBS, applicants must have:

  • A 4-year undergraduate degree or its equivalent
  • GMAT or GRE test results
  • TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test results for those who have attended a non-English undergraduate program

These are the three requirements that a person needs to satisfy in order for them to start the application process. Once the student starts the application process, they will be asked to assemble and prepare a variety of materials that will serve to represent them in the admissions process, and based on which a decision on whether they are the right candidate for the MBA program, or not, will be made. The application procedure contains the following:


Candidates must have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Degrees from international universities offering three-year baccalaureate degrees are valid equivalents. They require uploaded transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate academic institutions that the candidate has attended (full- or part-time).


When submitting the application, the applicant can report the unofficial GMAT or GRE score given on the day of the test for tests taken at GMAT or GRE testing centers, or their official score if they have received it. Every applicant must request that Pearson (for the GMAT) or ETS (for the GRE) send an official score report directly to HBS. There is no minimum GMAT or GRE to apply and they do not have a preference toward one test or the other.

Foreign Language Requirements

A TOEFL, IELTS or Pearson Test of English (PTE) is required for those who have not attended an undergraduate institution where the sole language of instruction is English. For those who have completed a graduate degree which was taught in English, it is recommended to submit test scores, but it is not required.
While there is no minimum test scores required for admission at HBS, they highly discourage applicants with test scores lower than 109 on TOEFL IBT, 7.5 on IELTS or 75 on PTE from applying.

Essay Description

Every class at HBS gets a different question, and the question is a very important part of the person’s application, as it is supposed to represent the uniqueness of the candidate. The class of 2022 asked the following question: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?
There is usually no word limit for the essay, but they strongly encourage the applicants not to overthink and overwrite and to answer the question in clear language that those who don’t know him/her can understand.


Applicants will need to have two recommendations submitted online by the application deadlines. Recommenders will be asked to fill out a personal qualities and skills grid and answer our two additional questions. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all recommendations are submitted online by the deadline date for the round in which the applicant is applying.

While some universities have requirements on who needs to write the recommendation letters – be it a professor, an employer or a direct supervisor, that is not the case with HBS. They advise applicants to use their judgment on who they decide to ask. Their reasoning behind that is the fact that it is not always possible to have a direct supervisor write the recommendation, as that could sometimes jeopardize their current position. Applicants are advised to carefully look at the questions they are asking recommenders to complete and then find people who know them well enough to answer those questions. That can be a former supervisor, a colleague, someone they have collaborated with on an activity outside of work. In other words, they say that someone who knows the person best should take priority over seniority or HBS alumni status.


Students need to submit their current business resume through the HBS online application system. The resume can be a standard business resume or CV, as they do not require any special format. That is to say, applicants can use whatever they would use to conduct a job search.


Interviews are 30 minutes long and are conducted by an MBA Admissions Board member who has reviewed the person’s application. The interview is tailored to the applicant and is designed for HBS to learn more about the applicants in a conversational manner. Candidates will be required to submit a written reflection after their interview, which is the last step of the application process. The interview is not a guarantee of admission and it serves as one element among many that are considered as HBS completes a final review of the person’s candidacy. All interviews are conducted by invitation only, at the discretion of the Admissions Board.

Post-Interview Description

After the interview, candidates have 24 hours to submit a written reflection about the interview through the HBS online application system. Instructions about the reflection are provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.

Fee Description

All applicants are required to pay a nonrefundable application fee of $250 (USD). Unlike some universities, at HBS the fee cannot be waived. The only exception is for all active duty military applicants and past SVMP participants who are exempt from paying the fee.

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