Student about to type their Harvard Business School essay

How To Write Harvard HBS Essay With Examples

December 20, 2023
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Harvard Business School Essay PromptsHow to Write Harvard Business School Essay in 6 Steps3 Successful Harvard Business School Essay Examples That WorkedMistakes to Avoid in Your Harvard Business EssayFAQs

Harvard Business School’s MBA is one of the most well-known, acclaimed professional degrees in the world. When applying to HBS is a competitive next step in your education and career, every aspect of your application deserves careful deliberation and preparation, especially your HBS essay. 

The application essay requires even more thought because Harvard Business School views essays as a real-time representation of who you are (besides the interview and statement of purpose), professionally and personally. This blog will take you through a step-by-step process so you’ll know exactly how to write the Harvard Business School essay.  

Hopefully, it will also help invigorate your pride in your own story, for Harvard Business School will be more likely to see your potential if you demonstrate that you see it too.

Harvard Business School Essay Prompts

The Harvard Business School essay is just one component of a complete MBA application, but it certainly has its own considerations. So, it is important that you take time to consider the essay separately from the rest of the documents and information in your application. The essay prompt is as follows:

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?

This essay question is particularly challenging for many applicants due to its vague nature.  The other potentially unexpected kicker to this prompt: there is no word limit. Regarding the length of your essay, the Harvard Business School webpage suggests that you “use your best judgment, and try to be clear… and concise.” 

We’ll discuss how to best work on this deliverable later in the blog, as it is an important factor in the overall presentation of your writing. 

Unless you have an exceedingly in-depth resume, the essay is definitely going to be the most personal aspect of your application. The essay is your chance to use your own words to describe yourself, your values, and your insights. 

It will be the most significant signal to the admissions committee as to how your background has influenced you and how HBS would fit well into your future.

How to Write Harvard Business School Essay in 6 Steps

Organization is key to ensuring quality in your HBS essay. It’s important to order tasks in an accomplishable, reasonable way where each goal is clear and manageable. 

Exploring blogs about MBA essay writing is one way to get ideas flowing. To help wrap your head around organizing your essay-writing efforts, here are some beginning-to-end steps for the creation of your HBS essay:

  1. Self-Reflection
  2. Decide on the Right Story and Its Theme
  3. Write an Outline
  4. Start Your Essay Carefully and Deliberately 
  5. Draft Your Essay and Revise
  6. Get an Outside Perspective

1. Self-Reflection

Start the process of HBS essay writing with something as equally fundamental as it is simple: thought. Consider the role that the essay will play in your application and how to make the essay benefit your goal of getting into Harvard Business School. 

There are two sides to useful self-reflection regarding a goal like a Harvard MBA.

First, think purposefully about your career goals and tie them to an MBA at Harvard Business School. Ask yourself, how would a Harvard MBA help you get to where you want to go, professionally? What would you most like to gain from your time studying at HBS? 

Thinking about these things and then including them in your essay will demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have a clear trajectory for your MBA experience and your career. 

Additionally, revealing these considerations in your essay will speak to your confidence in your aspirations and in your decision to apply for Harvard Business School, which will likewise be attractive to the admissions committee.

The other side to a useful introspection would be considering what you as a student would contribute to Harvard and to its MBA program. A US News article about successful MBA essays encourages you to highlight what you would contribute to the HBS MBA program, so that you come across as a useful addition instead of simply a “taker.” 

If you were in the admissions committee's shoes, what would be the most enticing aspects of your past education, your experiences, and your personality. Essentially, you should think, specifically and without judgment, about what your biggest strengths as an applicant are, realistically. 

Knowing this will help you, both consciously and subconsciously, weave your most compelling characteristics into your essay so that the admissions committee gets to know your best side.

2. Decide on the Right Story and Its Theme

You absolutely do not want to use your essay as a canvas on which to dump information about yourself. Harvard is not interested in reading an essay that expands on your entire resume or simply describes you. Tell a story! 

Elucidate on an impactful experience or explain a significant lesson you’ve learned. You’ll probably either overflow with abounding exciting examples to choose from, or you’ll struggle to find even one compelling anecdote. 

Don’t worry if you sit in this situation for a while; after all, you’ll ultimately still need to decide on just one topic, whether that means whittling down your options or sifting through your past to isolate that one perfect story. 

Once you finally do settle on that one excellent, fascinating subject that excites you enough to write about, you should also deliberate about what you intend your themes and tones to be. What would the ideal takeaway(s) be for a reader of your essay? 

Additionally, and this is annoyingly subjective, so apologies; how do you want to sound? You should have a picture of how your essay will present your information, and you should have a picture of how your essay will present you

The admissions committee will use the essay to try to imagine you and the role you’d play at Harvard, so keep in mind how they would do this with the essay you write.

3. Write an Outline

This step is fairly straightforward. Take the most important points of your topic, and put them in an order that would flow well as you write. Make sure, as you lay these points out, that they align with each other coherently and that they reflect your intended theme. 

From there, write out some thoughts on how best to integrate each point into a complete essay. You might want to explicitly write out which details are most crucial to each part of your story or subject. For example, let's say your compelling story about a transformative internship abroad begins by explaining what you were doing before it. 

Then, intuitively, you’d have to include details about where you were at this stage of the story and whether you were working, studying, traveling, etc. Put this information in your outline, so you know that you don’t leave things out and lose your reader.

4. Start Your Essay Carefully and Deliberately

The way you begin your essay is quite important and will in many ways determine how the rest of your essay will shape out. First things first, make sure you feel good about your first sentence. 

Just like the opening scene of a movie, the first statement or two of your HBS essay will introduce your writing style and general tone to the admissions committee readers. Consistency always improves readability, and consistency starts with your opening sentence. 

Try to make the first couple sentences intriguing to garner some interest right from the get-go.

From the first sentence, ensure you’re keeping to your tone, at least peripherally. We can all agree a shift in tone tends to break the flow of good writing, and to have that break early on in your essay might throw the admissions committee off. 

The more sentences you write in a consistent tone and manner, the easier it will be to continue to write in holding with them. Because you’re trying to tell one, coherent story, the reader will be most interested if your writing follows an intuitive flow of ideas.

5. Draft Your Essay and Revise

From this last point, try as best you can to find a steady pace, and begin expanding on your outline. The nice part of this step is that you don’t have to get carried away with wording, sentence structure, or length. Again, focus on including all the relevant details and continue matching your tone. 

Try to write at a reasonable rate for decent chunks of time instead of writing intermittently while giving in to distractions. The more consecutively you write each sentence and paragraph, the better they’ll run together when someone’s reading them.

The reason you’ve already prepared an outline, and plan to edit throughout the rest of your writing process, is to make your first attempt at writing the essay as easy as it can be. 

Mistakes and breaks in your thinking can easily be caught by careful reading after the fact, so capitalize on inspiration when it hits and simply get your first draft onto the page. When writing an important, personal essay like this one, it also serves you well to keep boosting your confidence. 

If you fixate on word choice and how your writing is sounding, you’ll be more likely to break up the flow of your statements and make reading your essay feel choppy. You are telling your own story, and the point of the essay is for the admissions committee to get a better idea of your personality and character, so take pride in the fact that you’re unambiguously the best writer for this subject.

6. Get an Outside Perspective‍

Once you’ve written the entirety of your essay and edited it carefully and precisely, get some extra peace of mind by having one or two other people read your essay. The more insightful and writing-experienced your readers of choice are, the more you’ll benefit from their critiques and opinions. 

The crucial part of this step is to get thoughts from someone unattached to your writing. As fervently and specifically as you may edit your own essay, you’ll always struggle to distance yourself from your emotional attachment to certain phrases, details, or even words. It’s ok. Every writer goes through this with the things they write. Trust us.

This other person allows you to hear a perspective from someone who read every sentence as how it sounded, not how it was intended. In this way, they fill the shoes of the admissions committee, but at a stage where you can still make changes to your essay. 

Don’t take criticisms personally; it's better to hear them now than to be at their mercy after submitting your application. 

No, you don’t need to force yourself to accept every change proposed by your reader(s). The point of an outside perspective is not to find a qualified editor and let them rewrite an essay about something important to you. 

This step is more useful just in reinvigorating your own thoughts about your paper because, in the late stages of your essay writing, it's much easier to get bogged down with the same considerations and forget the bigger things you’re trying to say to the admissions committee.

woman writing on paper

3 Successful Harvard Business School Essay Examples That Worked

Here are successful Harvard Business School essay examples to give you an idea of what to write. 

Sample Essay #1

“Start again,” my mother would demand after tossing my less-than-perfect homework into the trash. As a kid, I was taught that ‘work is finished when it’s not just your best work, but the best.’ Most kids would resent a parent for this, but I didn’t: my mom practiced the same rigor with her own work. She had to—a Latin immigrant with only a high school degree in 1980s [City] was held to a higher standard, especially one fighting to change both the media’s and corporations’ impressions about Latinx consumers.

I have applied this doctrine of “do better, be better” throughout my life, focusing on improving my own communities, be it through offering students a taste of food around the world with a college underground pop-up kitchen or planning a [Latinx event] as a conference chair. Last year gave me the chance to continue to work on being an inclusive leader in the Black/Latinx (B/LX) community as a ‘white-passing’ individual. Ultimately, however, these concerns were unimportant when given the opportunity to improve things now for the B/LX community. My new work projects helped me confront leaders I felt had not supported teams during the summer’s tragedies. I learned how feedback framed as suggestions could have powerful consequences. In fact, one of my managers actually came to me for advice on how to engage his peers in order to help his local community use pooled funds from [consulting group].

These experiences have helped me refine my long-term aspirations. Though I would still like to build on my mother’s legacy of a community-minded entrepreneur, I dream of founding my own venture capital fund. I want to alter the face of business by empowering young, diverse entrepreneurs who will bring novel approaches to lingering problems from past generations. Rather than improve my community only through projects supporting others’ priorities, I intend to be an active participant, building an incubator for entrepreneurs of color to eliminate barriers that maintain inequality such as urban food insecurity and underfunded education systems.

HBS will immerse me in the rapidly evolving entrepreneurial environment, helping me to understand process and practice creating ideas as both a founder and funder. On campus, I intend to be an active participant in HBS’ Anti-Racism goals, fighting to bring equity and inclusion with the same passion I have brought to my office and B/LX network. After graduating, I plan to continue engaging with HBS, either by working with student-run investment groups (like IVP’s Steve Harrick and the students behind the inclusion-focused Phoenix Fund) or working with professors to influence HBS’ future (like alumni Lulu Curiel and Eric Calderon, who helped develop a case study with Professor Alvarez to improve Latinx representation in MBA programs). Internalizing the case-method and the hands-on experiences acquired in my two years on-campus will embolden me to disrupt the status quo, both from the grassroots and executive levels.

What Made It Successful 

So, what works well in this thoughtful, personal HBS application essay? Starting with the introduction, the anecdote that this writer starts their essay with grabs attention through the strict rigor that their mother required for them growing up. 

Again, the key to the first few statements of an application essay lies in their ability to compel the reader to read on. An excellent introduction. will ensure  reading your essay is  a pleasure instead of a chore. 

Further on in this essay example, the reader understands where the applicant's motivation for equality and fair representation stems from, and this theme persists throughout the piece. It’s through demonstrating strong points like these that the reader reaches a higher empathy for the writer, which never hurts when applying to Harvard Business School. 

We also gain appreciation for the leadership skills of the writer due to their clear descriptions of past examples. Crucially, do not just hear how these examples played out, but what lessons the writer learned from them that they continue to apply. 

Finally, the essay’s conclusion cites both short-term and long-term goals for the writer's schooling and career, and this section feels very specifically written for HBS. 

Including references to Harvard Business School and its alumni, as done in this example, shows the admissions committee that your efforts in writing this essay are totally aimed at getting into HBS’s MBA, and that you’ve thought hard enough about the decision to do in-depth research.

Sample Essay #2

Our life experiences shape our skills, perspective and help define our paths. Reflecting on my personal and professional journey, I would like to share three lessons which have strongly shaped my journey and outlook.

My first lesson is about people. I feel fortunate to have understood the enormous potential in empathizing and collaborating with individuals to achieve community success, organizational targets and personal goals.

Perhaps due to my father’s frequent job transfers, I grew-up as a reticent, lone worker, shying away from forging long-lasting relationships. While excelling academically, I skipped participating in anything at school that required dependence on other people. It was only at my undergraduate institution, [University] that I really started building relationships with my hostel-mates and exploring the various opportunities [University] offered.

However, soon dark realities came to the forefront when a final-year student committed suicide while my close friend, [Name], got sucked into a vortex of depression due to his poor academic performance. Deeply shaken, I resolved to address mental-health issues on campus and joined the Institute Counseling Service, comprising student volunteers, faculty and professional counselors who sought to provide emotional and academic help to students.

Driven to make a difference, I led 240 student volunteers, strengthened our mentorship program to identify students in need of professional help and organized Orientation Programs. To dispel the stigma associated with mental-health and build trust, we increased the approachability of counsellors by initiating hostel visits and collaborated with NGOs to use theatre and generate awareness. I personally mentored students and it was heartwarming to create an environment in which people were able to discuss their personal issues freely with me. While I gained friends for life, I realized there is no greater happiness than witnessing one’s mentee overcome difficulties and be successful! Listening to varied personal experiences inculcated empathy and fostered ability to forge strong interpersonal connections.

This experience stayed with me during my professional journey with [Consumer Goods Company]. Just out of college, I had to navigate union strikes, reconcile socio-political contexts and motivate 600+ unskilled workers, several years my senior to transform the quality performance of an $800M factory in a small town. Leveraging interpersonal skills, I understood employee concerns and created an experiential training program. Listening to them, educating them, sharing success and owning failures together, I immersed myself in the workforce environment, instilling a culture of innovation and change. Our efforts reaped dividends as we eliminated all consumer complaints and achieved the best-ever performance in quality metrics, securing [Consumer Goods Company] market-share and launching 24 premium product variants. Thus, I learnt to drive organizational change by harnessing people’s potential.

My second life lesson is about values. I feel long-term success can only be achieved if one has the character to stand by one’s principles during testing times.

At age-5, I recall accompanying my mother to court hearings to witness a long-drawn trial involving my father. Overtime, I understood how my father had been slapped with a fake harassment case because he refused to accept a bribe for professional favors. Standing by his principles, he was later acquitted emerging as my inspiration and teaching me values of honesty and integrity.

After 17 years, these values were tested. Early-on in my role as Quality Manager of [Consumer Goods Company] plant, consumer complaints for a particular defect inflicted 10% market-share losses in [Big City]. On probing, I realized that we had overlooked an important data trend during manufacturing that could have averted the disaster. While corporate auditors were preparing a report attributing the occurrence of defect to chance, I presented the true picture, taking full responsibility. It was a difficult decision as our factory had already lost credibility prior to my joining. Our General Manager intervened to manage the crisis and while recognizing my ethics and courage, placed faith on my ability to redeem myself.

Motivated to prove myself, I worked incessantly with my team, ensuring that I drive systemic changes and build a culture of continuous improvement. Within one-year, we achieved benchmark performances, restoring faith in the unit/team. During our annual performance review, our unit was appreciated for data-integrity, reinforcing my belief in my value system.

The third lesson is about impact. I believe true success is achieved when people are guided by a desire to create sustainable impact and make a positive difference in society.

During a factory-visit, I engaged with our CEO, and advocated driving growth by monetizing [Consumer Goods Company] distribution network to service regional firms/startups. Intrigued, he inducted me into his office in the Trade Marketing and Distribution function in a strategic role, a move unheard for any non-MBA engineer. Initially, I engaged with product entrepreneurs to offer them [Consumer Goods Company] distribution for scaling-up. One case was [Company], a [City]-based startup that innovated on cost-effective sanitary napkins. We are helping them reach 60M consumers in [Country], a country where 75% women resort to unhygienic alternatives. Curious to understand their success, I engaged with the founder, [Name]. I realized [Name] was driven by a desire to positively impact the lives of rural women and this motivated him to innovate continuously.

Reflecting on this conversation, I identified how [Consumer Products Company] could play a larger role in adding to consumer-value and go beyond giving distribution access to CPG startups. If tech leaders such as Google, Microsoft could incubate technology startups, we needed to explore similar models in the CPG space. I formulated a strategic investor model to incubate and eventually acquire CPG startups, a first for an Indian CPG firm, and pitched it to senior leadership. They appreciated my vision of synergizing with startups, providing [Consumer Products Company] marketing expertise and product development insights to encourage product innovation, thereby creating an inorganic growth roadmap for [Consumer Products Company] vision of achieving $15B by 2030.

These lessons provide the foundation to succeed and define my professional ambitions. Going forward, I envision energizing the [Country] CPG startup ecosystem, stimulating innovation and strengthening symbiotic relationships with Corporations to deliver high social-impact products, creating sustainable value for 1.2B Indian consumers. While my experiences have created the primer, I see Harvard as the perfect catalyst to transform me into a change leader. Building on my life lessons, I can’t wait to engage with classmates who bring with them a wealth of global experiences and stories!

Sample Essay #3

I remember my hands trembling as I clenched the scissors, and my mother’s gorgeous locks fell to the ground − I was six years old. Compelled to quit her studies after marriage, my mother resumed her masters in [course] after ten stifling years. With my father’s solitary income going into tuition for my mother, sister and me, a proper haircut was a wasteful luxury. My parents shielded us from their struggles, but the gravity of our situation hit home as I cut my mother’s hair.

When my mother finally cleared her examinations, I expected things to change. Instead, she declined lucrative offers to join public-services, catering to marginalized populations through [country’s] public healthcare system. My parents unwavering desire to lead a life of meaning, fuelled my own. Over the course of my journey, I have carved my own path to making a difference – one of spreading my ideas and impact, beyond what I could accomplish alone. I would like to share how three transformative experiences, starting over a decade ago, have progressively shaped this lifelong approach.

At 13, I was devastated to see my sister’s tiny frame shake violently as she coughed from asthma. What affected me most was learning that we had all contributed to these respiratory problems, by making [city] the most polluted city in the world.

I refused to remain a silent spectator and started an environment club, [club], at school. Digging-up compost pits and conducting tree-plantation drives, our team explored every opportunity to make our premises greener. The efforts of our small 10-member team indicated to me the potential to spur larger change by motivating all 1500 students to step-up. Our idea to achieve this, by integrating environmental-awareness within our curriculum, was dismissed by the administration for lack of resources. Undeterred, I started writing applications to garner financial support, and within months, led our team to the first place in a national competition. The $15K we won infused both resources and enthusiasm to implement our eco-friendly curriculum.

Juggling my graduation-examinations and endless hours of organizing activities for the entire school, we grew [club] five-fold. Students stepped-up to expand our efforts, from transitioning our school to using solar energy to organizing large-scale zero-waste campaigns. ‘Exponential’ was no longer just a graph I studied, I could tangibly see my impact multiplying by mobilising individuals around me.

Eager to replicate our success beyond school, I initiated environmental workshops for children from urban-slums in [city].

“Boys don’t need to save money for dowry, do they not have to conserve environmental resources either?” asked 11-year old [name]. Half-way into my first workshop, my analogy of saving money to explain the concept of conserving environmental resources, had derailed my session-plan.

Having witnessed the consequences of gender-disparity in my own childhood I started my non-profit [non-profit], during college, to promote holistic life-skills education to uproot such evils. I was happiest spending weekends in community-centres and public-classrooms, with my team of student-volunteers, conducting activity-based workshops for hundreds of children. I vividly remember when, beaming with pride, [name] told me that she had saved enough money to buy her house. She not only grasped complex concepts of banking and savings, but acknowledged herself as a financially-independent female – albeit in a game of Monopoly!

By graduation, we grew to a 20-member team and reached 1,000+ children. However, once I moved to join Investment-Banking, our student-volunteer model disintegrated and fundraising for a full-time team seemed impossible. While struggling to sustain momentum, I saw a class-teacher enthusiastically taking initiative to support our program, during a workshop. Watching her, it struck me that scaling-up [non-profit] was not the only way to further impact.

"Over the course of my journey, I have carved my own path to making a difference – one of spreading my ideas and impact, beyond what I could accomplish alone."

Restructuring our workshops into a comprehensive curriculum, we showcased it to the state academic department. Winning their support, we trained 100 public-school teachers and principals to deliver the program. Within two years, these teachers extended our program to 10,000 children and even co-opted their colleagues. Their efforts reaffirmed my conviction that enabling change-agents at a systemic-level could accelerate impact at scale.

To steer my journey in this direction, I decided to quit my investment-banking job in [country] and return to [country]. Forgoing the financial comfort I was finally providing my family weighed on me, but I chose to follow my heart. I joined [foundation], a philanthropy focused on driving systemic change to tangibly impact India’s education landscape.

Innovative, low-cost teaching-aids developed by [company], my [foundation] portfolio-organisation, drastically improved learning for children in rural classrooms. However, their low-monetization potential generated minimal funder interest, threatening their existence. Their question, “How will we serve these children, when we can barely stay afloat?” echoed my own struggles at [non-profit].

Collaborating with the [state] government, I helped [company] reduce costs through subsidies and extend their program to 40,000 students. I was leading large-scale projects with public systems at [foundation], but I realized that empowering social-enterprises such as [company] to drive systemic change could create ripple-effects throughout the ecosystem.

My ten-year-old self wouldn't believe just how far I have come – my hands no longer shake when I take decisive actions, whose outcomes I cannot always predict.

Today, non-profit social-enterprises in India fail to reach their potential, owing to lack of financial and strategic support - the largest remains 1/100th the size of its global peers. So, I took on the mandate to launch an Accelerator within [non-profit], to ensure this support, even though this meant leaving my team and starting out alone. My path was uphill, given [non-profit’s] strategic shift towards working directly with governments − the initiative was peripheral for every decision, be it budget-allocations or team-building.

The eagerness of portfolio-organizations in leveraging every support opportunity kept me going. Months of co-creating monetization strategies and facilitating government meetings paid off, in one instance, enabling immense expansion for the portfolio-organization to reach 800,000 children. Such successes helped evangelize our potential and we are now raising an independent fund to support 30 entrepreneurs to help transform education for 5M children.

My ten-year-old self wouldn’t believe just how far I have come – my hands no longer shake when I take decisive actions, whose outcomes I cannot always predict. Striving to continually widen my impact has helped me progress from empowering school-students to supporting social-entrepreneurs, towards enabling an entire ecosystem of social change-makers.

Battling one constant challenge throughout, that of inadequate resources, has highlighted how social-finance could be the ‘driving-force’ towards my goal. Most importantly, I have learnt that beyond individual efforts, by spearheading thought-leadership and global alliances, I can mobilize the entire ecosystem, catalyzing robust social-investment markets in India.

My friend [name] described how assimilating diverse perspectives through the case-method at HBS helped him understand nuances of business across cultures, while the vibrant community provided access to global networks. HBS equipped him to launch and grow his company across eight emerging economies, through partnerships with local entrepreneurs. Similarly, I am convinced that the ideas, experiences and relationships built at HBS will help me realize my vision where every [club], [non-profit] and [company] can go on to create the change it aspires to.

Mistakes to Avoid in Your Harvard Business Essay

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1. Show Don’t Tell

If you use your essay to outright explain what you’re trying to show the admissions committee about yourself, you run a much higher risk of losing readability and taking your application from an opportunity to a plea. Instead, demonstrate your takeaways, your best qualities, through your story and its examples. 

The reader is far more likely to be compelled by the conclusions of your essay if they feel like they came to them themselves. By not explicitly explaining the point of your essay, you come across more sure in the topic you’ve chosen and its ability to reveal the point.

2. Avoid Lackluster Anecdotes

Your essay will be bolstered or weakened by the intrinsic quality of the experiences about which you write. Only include anecdotes that you’d be just as comfortable and confident about retelling to dinner guests or friends at a bar. 

Obviously, the formality of those situations and the Harvard Business School MBA application differ starkly, but the gist of this statement is that if you’d feel awkward telling a story to your friends, it’d be hard to make it sound good for an unseen admissions committee reader. 

If it’s a story you’ll enjoy writing about, it’ll stand a better chance of being enjoyable to read.

3. Don’t Narrate – Craft a Compelling Story

Ensure your topic flows seamlessly through relevant experiences and lessons. Establishing clear cause-and-effect relationships among different events not only maintains the reader's interest but also justifies each inclusion in your essay. While coherence is essential, be cautious not to force connections between unrelated experiences or anecdotes; instead, strive for a well-integrated narrative with a cohesive beginning-to-end structure."

4. Don’t Do This Yourself

Utilize guides and blog posts about the undertaking of applying to an MBA program, getting as specific to Harvard Business School as you can. 

Reviewing a concise guide about applying to Harvard Business School can be the best way to ensure that your application is sound, not just for any MBA program, but for Harvard Business School’s MBA.

 Many resources, like Final Application Reviews, will focus heavily on your essay, but will also provide insight on every aspect of your application so you feel best about your attempt.


If you still have questions about the HBS essay, check out these frequently asked questions. 

1. How Can I Best Edit My Essay?

To best edit your essay, focus on refining syntax, word choice, and common mistakes in MBA application essays. Research prevalent errors, specifically addressing them to catch the admissions committee's attention. Utilize tools like Grammarly for a comprehensive review, increasing the likelihood of submitting an error-free essay.

2. How Long Should My Essay Be If There's No Word Limit?

In the absence of a specified word limit, aim for conciseness while conveying your message effectively. Generally, one to three pages or around 500-1000 words is a reasonable guideline, allowing you to present a comprehensive narrative without unnecessary information.

3. Is the Essay Portion Different If I’m Reapplying?

No, if you're reapplying to Harvard Business School, the essay portion remains the same as for first-time applicants. There is no distinct essay prompt for reapplicants.

4. Can I Use the Same Essay If I’m Reapplying?

HBS does not explicitly prohibit this, but, intuitively, it’s probably a better idea to write a new essay. You would have no way of knowing that your essay and the topic you chose played no role in your initial rejection. 

5. Are There Bad Topics to Write About?‍

Yes, some topics are best avoided in your essay. Steer clear of overly controversial or sensitive subjects and refrain from solely highlighting academic or professional achievements unless they contribute to a broader, more personal theme. 

Also, avoid repeating stories already addressed in recommendation letters to provide the admissions committee with new insights. Choose an original and unique topic that reflects your character, emphasizing its personal significance. 

If you struggle to justify your topic's importance, consider opting for a more compelling subject for your essay.

6. Can I Over-Edit My Essay?

Excessive editing can make your writing sound stiff and fragmented. The concept of "over-editing" suggests a misuse of time better spent on other tasks. It's challenging to determine the perfect editing point, but if changes result in minimal, unclear differences, you may be over-editing. 

Recognizing this, it's advisable to ease back on editing efforts, especially if changes are made simply because they come to mind.


Harvard Business School's MBA program is highly competitive, and the HBS essay is your chance to stand out. Choose a topic that excites you and reveals your unique experiences. Use organizational resources and time management for effective essay development. 

Simplify the process with outlined steps, ensuring authenticity and enthusiasm. Maintain confidence in your chosen topic and writing style for a more assured essay. This is an opportunity to showcase why you're applying to Harvard Business School, so approach it with confidence and purpose.

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At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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