Harvard Business School Overview

Introduction of Business School & MBA Program

Harvard Business School (HBS) offers a top MBA program in Cambridge, MA. The school offers a full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, as well as many executive education programs, but does not offer an 'Executive MBA'.

General Management

The heart of HBS’s reputation is the general management program. Rather than specializing in a particular aspect of business practice, HBS students learn to make decisions across business models and disciplines. Indeed, after the first year of the HBS core curriculum, students are able to devote their entire second year to electives.

Case Study Method

The case study method is one of the defining components of the HBS experience and its role in the curriculum can hardly be overstated. Upon graduation, students will have addressed over 500 cases, along with reading textbooks, notes, and articles in order to develop an in-depth familiarity with cases. Professors are always creating new cases for students, often allowing less than a week before they are discussed in class. Indeed, the majority of other business schools purchase the cases they use from Harvard.

Section Experience

Another defining aspect of HBS is the teaching component involved in the classroom. Students are required to teach their peers by drawing from their own backgrounds constantly in order to promote a dynamic atmosphere. HBS ensures that classrooms are filled with a variety of perspectives. Most sections will contain students with backgrounds in tech, law, teaching, investment banking, medicine, consulting, athletics, the military, etc.


MBA Application Elements - Harvard Business School


Interview invitations are done on a rolling basis and their timing implies nothing about your candidacy. Interview invitations may be offered up to the notification date.

Interviews are 30 minutes in length and are conducted either in-person or over the phone.

Letters of Recommendation

Unlike many business schools, HBS will consider recommendations from your former professors. However, these will only be helpful if the professor writing the recommendation is familiar with your leadership capacity and professional goals. If these conditions are not met, then you would be wise to find other sources for letters.

Essay Tips

Emphasis is placed heavily upon leadership at HBS and should feature prominently in your essays. Given HBS’ mission to “develop outstanding business leaders who contribute to the well-being of society”, it is also essential to demonstrate your capacity to positively influence others. You must also demonstrate your style of leadership and should reflect on how it has changed over time. More than most business schools, HBS will seriously evaluate the degree to which your career goals will impact society.

Examples of essay prompts previously used by HBS:
1. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit))
2. What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)
3. Please respond to three of the following (400-word limit each)
a. Discuss a defining experience in your leadership development. How did this experience highlight your strengths and weaknesses?
b. How have you experienced culture shock?
c. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?
d. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?
e. What global issue is most important to you and why?
f. What else would you like the MBA Admissions Board to understand about you?


Harvard MBA Program - Key Statistics

o Full-Time Enrollment: 1,808
o Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.66
o Average GMAT Score: 724
o Acceptance Rate: 11.1%
o Average Starting Salary and Bonus: $139,735
o Full-Time Graduates Employed at Graduation: 83.2%
o Average Age of New Entrants: 27
o Average Work Experience: Approximately 4 years
o HBS students can also register for courses with: MIT Sloan, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and any of the other Harvard University graduate programs. During your second year you are able to cross-register for up to two courses toward your MBA degree or may choose to cross-register for an extra course for enrichment only such as a language class.

Financial Assistance

o 75% of Harvard Business School students receive some form of financial assistance, consisting of a combination of fellowships and loans.
o Approximately 50% of the Class received an average $22,000 per year in need-based HBS Fellowships. Loan repayment assistance is available for students who pursue lower-paying positions in the private sector or in social enterprise organizations.