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Harvard Business School

Harvard University


Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, and the business program is no exception. While many business programs are housed in a single building or small cluster of structures, HBS is composed of over 30 buildings, in addition to five residence halls which the majority of students reside. The residential and campus atmosphere create contribute to the strong sense of closeness and community among HBS students. Recruiters and employers actively seek HBS grads, who have gained exposure to top-notch experiences and academics, instructed by some of the world’s top professors.


Harvard University grants business degrees only to those pursuing a full-time MBA, though they also have an Executive Education Program where professionals can attend classes without being awarded a Harvard degree. Incoming classes are divided into sections, and these groups take all the classes in the core curriculum together during the first two semesters. They are each assigned a faculty team to support them during their experience. The core curriculum at Harvard is among the most rigid of the top business schools, and is composed of 10 case method courses along with FIELD coursework (workshops, sessions, and team events designed to facilitate leadership and career development). The grading scale includes three passing grades and one failing grade: 1 (best), II (middle), III (poor), and IV (fail). Students can also choose whether they disclose grades to recruiters.


The core curriculum provides every HBS student a strong foundation in general management and over 10% of the graduating class enter these roles, which is higher than most top-tier MBA programs. Consulting and finance dominate are among the most popular pursuits for HBS grads, with over half the class entering one of the two fields. Around 30% of the class also pursue jobs in the finance sector. While Private Equity jobs are highly competitive, Harvard remains a favorite from which students are recruited for these selective placements.


The HBS experience differs from that of other business schools, with the majority of students living in on-campus housing (HBS offers dorm-style rooms and apartment options). Between the residential culture, section model, and frequently planned events and trips, relationship building is a core element of the HBS experience. The sections are particularly active in fostering fun and camaraderie and schedule events, study sessions, and gatherings throughout the week. These activities are so frequent and extensive, that students are expected to pay dues of around $200 a year to cover the costs of the various HBS exploits.


HBS is highly competitive, and seeks applicants who demonstrate a habit of leadership, analytical aptitude, and engaged community citizenship. While most business schools prefer or require applicants to have work experience before applying, HBS offers a 2+2 program for applicants still pursuing undergraduate or graduate education. Students then defer admission into HBS for two years while they gain experience. The application now requires only one essay, and relies heavily on the online application for gathering information about prospective students. This includes biographical information, academic history, and description of career experiences. HBS requires one essay for admission, and the prompt is as follows:

  • Essay: 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? (no word limit)