Harvard Business School (HBS) is famous worldwide and is located at Harvard University in Boston. It was founded in 1908 and still ranks among the top business schools in the world. Though the rankings may vary each year, HBS consistently ranks among the top five graduate business programs yearly.
Since a Harvard MBA is so renowned, you must put much time and effort into the application. The application procedure is somewhat similar to that of other MBA colleges. However, Harvard's admissions committee has certain expectations you need to fulfill to get accepted.
This guide will help you understand everything you need to know about how to get into Harvard Business School.
Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate: 11.5%
The HBS acceptance rate is 11.5%, reflecting its highly competitive admissions process. With 8,149 applications received, only 938 students were admitted. This low acceptance rate underscores the school's commitment to selecting exceptional candidates with academic excellence.
If you hope to gain admission into HBS, ensure you have an extremely strong application and submit everything on time. Please note that this acceptance rate is an estimate because many MBA programs have stopped releasing this.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Harvard Business School
With an acceptance rate of 11.5%, Harvard Business School is very selective. This means that out of every 100 applicants, only approximately 11 or 12 are admitted. To increase your chances of acceptance, it's important to have a strong academic record, impressive professional achievements, outstanding test scores, compelling essays, and glowing recommendation letters.
Harvard Business School Admissions Statistics
Here are the average GPA, test scores, and work experience of Harvard Business School applicants to help you better understand what they expect from them.
Harvard Business School Average GPA: 3.73
The average GPA of admitted applicants applying to Harvard Business School is 3.73. Although HBS doesn’t have a minimum GPA requirement, you should aim for a minimum of 3.7. It’s always best to aim for a 4.0. It’s important to note that HBS does look at other factors of an applicant's application; however, your GPA is very important.
Harvard Business School Average GMAT Score: 740
The Harvard GMAT average for admitted applicants is 740. HBS only requires one test score, so it’s your choice if you want to submit a GMAT or GRE score. Remember that HBS GMAT scores are competitive so if you do submit a GMAT score make sure it's considered competitive.
Harvard Business School Average GRE Score: 163
The median GRE score for Harvard Business School admitted applicants is 163. Due to HBS being extremely competitive, aim for a GRE score higher than 163. You’ll have the choice to submit either the GRE or GMAT, so ensure you have the best score for whatever test you write.
Average Year of Work Experience: 4.9 Years
The average work experience for HBS-admitted applicants is around five years. The top industries admitted applicants worked in were consulting, consumer products/retail/e-commerce, financial services, and healthcare. If you want to be considered competitive, ensure you meet the average work experience of admitted applicants.
What is Harvard Business School Looking For In Applicants?
Harvard Business School evaluates applications by assessing applicants' demonstrated leadership skills, emphasizing collaboration and meaningful dialogue. They also consider analytical aptitude and a drive for lively discussion, seeking individuals capable of mastering complex information and problem-solving.
Additionally, HBS prioritizes engaged community work, expecting applicants to uphold ethical standards and positively contribute to the MBA program. The school aims to assemble a diverse class reflective of the global economy, fostering a dynamic learning environment enriched by varied perspectives and backgrounds.
The regular decision deadlines for rounds one and two for Harvard Business School’s MBA program are early September and early January. Ensure you have your application materials ready by these deadlines.
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Harvard Business School
Getting into Harvard Business School can be very overwhelming. The admissions committee at HBS carefully evaluates each applicant before accepting them. Here are a few tips on improving your chances of getting into Harvard Business School:
Begin Your Research Early
Doing research on Harvard Business School should be the first thing you do before applying. Researching will help give you insight to what the school can offer you and it stands for.
You can start learning about HBS by networking with current students, connecting with alumni, and attending admissions events. It’s never too early to start your research into HBS. Although it depends on your time and availability, starting your research one year before you apply is generally a good idea.
Focus on Acing the GMAT/GRE
HBS is looking for applicants that are able to handle the rigors of business school. While HBS doesn't set a minimum required GMAT or GRE score, you should aim for a competitive score, ideally, within or above the class average scores. This is especially valuable if your GPA is on the lower side.
Write an Outstanding Personal Statement
You may have all the essential qualities needed to get into HBS, but it will be useless unless you can show Harvard that you are a perfect fit. Write a clear and concise personal statement that will help you stand out. Tell the admissions committee about yourself, your passions, and your work experiences.
The admission committee loves to accept students who are passionate and are willing to give back to society. You should aim to let the admissions committee know how you can contribute to the world through your knowledge, potential, and leadership skills.
In addition, your HBS essay shouldn't just be an expansion of your resume. Admissions committees will want to know the 'why' behind the 'what' so it's essential to communicate both what you want to achieve and why from your career and business school experience.
Have Valuable Work Experience
You should try to collect at least four years of work experience before applying to HBS. Though there is a four-year program at Harvard that allows undergraduate students to get admitted and then work for two years to gain some work experience, you should try to acquire at least four years of work experience before applying to HBS.
Before applying to HBS, aim to build a strong skill set. HBS is looking for strong leadership skills and an analytical aptitude. HBS welcomes students who can master quantitative concepts and engage in the community by showing respect for others.
You can go for internships that will help to improve your skill set. If you feel that you don't have the required skills, it may just be a matter of looking at your experiences differently. There are likely other aspects of your experiences that can be highlighted in these instances.
Harvard Business School Essay Prompts
Harvard Business School requires its applicants to answer one essay prompt so they can assess if the applicant is right for the school. Here is the essay prompt you’ll be required to answer:
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?
We invite you to share personal or professional experiences from your background that give you a unique ability to contribute to HBS. Try to remember to not overthink or overwrite in this essay; it is best to answer the question in clear and concise language that those of us who don't know your world can understand.
The word limit for this essay is 900 words. If you’re applying to a joint program, you must answer another essay prompt:
How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level?
The word limit for this prompt is 400 words. Ensure you don’t exceed the word limit for either essay.
Harvard Business School Interview
After reviewing your written application, you might get invited for a 30-minute interview. The interviewer will be someone from the MBA Admissions Board who has reviewed your application. The interview is a chance for them to learn more about you through a conversation.
Getting an interview is a positive sign but doesn't guarantee admission. It's just one part of the whole application process. Interviews are only given to those invited; you must attend to complete your application.
Interviews can take place on campus, in different cities, or online via Zoom. Whether you're invited and how the interview is conducted don't indicate the status of your application.
Here are some frequently asked questions if you need further clarification on HBS.
1. Is There a Minimum Age to Get to HBS?
No, there is no age restriction to apply to HBS. You can choose from various programs, depending on your goals and preferences.
2. Is the GMAT/GRE Compulsory to Get to HBS?
Yes, you need to take either the GMAT or GRE to get into HBS.
3. Do I Need to Take an English Proficiency Exam to Get Into HBS?
Yes, you might have to take an English proficiency exam, such as TOEFL or IELTS, unless your native language is English. You can also be waived from the exam if you can submit a transcript showing you graduated from an English medium college/university.
4. What is the Application Fee for HBS?
The application fee is $250, which has to be paid via credit card.
5. Can I Submit a Hard Copy of My Application?
No, you cannot submit a hard copy of your application. You need to use the online application tool to submit your application.
6. Can I Re-Apply to the MBA Program?
Yes, you will need to file a new application, submit the fees and get at least one new letter of recommendation from someone who hasn’t written one for you already.
7. What is the Deadline to Apply?
Deadlines vary each year so be sure to regularly check the HBS website to see the deadlines for your course. The Round 1 deadline is usually in early September and the Round 2 deadline is normally at the beginning of January. The deadline is 11:59 pm on the date mentioned.
Getting into Harvard Business School can be daunting since it is one of the world’s top business schools. There is no one sure-shot way to get into HBS, but give yourself the best possible chance by following the strategies outlined above.
Start your research early, and make sure to set aside ample time to fill out and review your application thoroughly. Try your best to prove to the admissions committee how you’d be an excellent fit for the HBS, and you will not have to worry about how to get into Harvard Business School.
About Inspira Futures
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.