How Hard Is It To Get Into Harvard Business School

Last Updated on August 8, 2022

Deciding what you want to be when you grow up is hard enough, but the process of how to get into Harvard Business School can be even more complicated. This guide will walk you through the application process and help you decide whether HBS is right for you.

Choosing a college is an important decision. If you are accepted, you will spend four years of your life there. So it’s critical to choose the right college for your needs. You’ll need to look at things like location, price, programs, and of course the school’s reputation. However, there is one part of college choice that many people ignore: How hard is it to get into the school of my choice?

Do you want to learn about the latest findings is it difficult to get into Harvard business school? Get ready! Find out all the information you need right here on Collegelearners so you don’t have to go looking again. Find all the specifics you need, such as how hard is it to get into Harvard business school online, how hard is it to get into Harvard business school MBA to how hard is it to get into Harvard business grad school. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on related topics.

harvard business school requirements

Let’s start with the raw data, the most tangible way to answer the question. The latest entering class of MBA students at Harvard Business School reported an average GMAT score of 724 which would essentially put them in the 95th percentage of test takers. So Harvard MBA students scored equal to or better than 95% of those who took the GMAT exam.

Poets&Quants | What It Takes To Get Into Harvard Business School

If your GMAT score is lower than 724, you are at a slight disadvantage. But don’t give up. Harvard accepts a wide range of applicants, and for the Class of 2014, at least one had a GMAT score of only 570, which put that candidate in the not-very-impressive 55th percentile. The highest GMAT score of a Harvard MBA student, by the way, was 790, which is in the 99th percentile and just ten points shy of a perfect 800 score.

Applicants to HBS must have the following:

–A 4-year undergraduate degree or its equivalent

A degree program at an accredited U.S. four-year undergraduate college/university or its equivalent (unless you are a college senior applying to our 2+2 Program). Equivalent programs include international three-year bachelor degree programs.–GMAT or GRE test results

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test taken in the timeframes on the chart below. The GMAT or GRE is a prerequisite for admission.

Poets&Quants | Can You Get Into Harvard's B-School?
If you are applying in…YOUR GMAT OR GRE TEST DATE MUST FALL ON OR BETWEEN
ROUND 1September 8, 2015 and September 7, 2020
ROUND 2January 5, 2016 and January 4, 2021
2+2 ROUND*GMAT (in-person): April 2, 2015 and June 1, 2020GMAT (online): April 2, 2015 and May 25, 2020
GRE (in-person or online): April 2, 2015 and June 1, 2020

*For the time being, we will be accepting online versions of the GMAT or GRE (where available) even if they do not have a writing section available. If you wish to take the online GMAT, you must take it no later than one week prior to the submission deadline, as this version of the test requires one week for scores to be issued.–TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE test results if you attended a non-English undergraduate programResults from the Internet-based version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Pearson Test of English (PTE), from a test taken January 1, 2019 or later, is required for international applicants who attended a non-English-speaking undergraduate university. For the 2020-2021 application, HBS will accept the at-home or online versions of the TOEFL iBT and the TOEFL iTP Plus (in China in partnership with Vericant), IELTS and the IELTS Indicator, and Pearson Test of English (PTE).

is it easy to get into harvard business school

The short answer is – very hard. Here’s why.

Though technically Harvard University wasn’t the first to set up a business school (that distinction goes to Wharton), its century-long existence gave it a huge first mover advantage (to use the term loosely). Over the years, as a large number of universities followed suit, Harvard ensured that it stayed in the driver’s seat when it came to innovation and setting the bar for management education.

Armed with an endowment that’s among the biggest in the education sector, it can tap into resources that few other universities can. With its publication (HBS Publishing) and research ventures (Harvard Business Review) it has built a self-sustaining ecosystem that pulls and pushes ideas across academia and industry to stay relevant.

The HBS brand is super-strong not just in the education space, but in the industry as well – in almost all fields of specialisation. Harvard MBA students have gone on to achieve tremendous success in the industry as well as in the entrepreneurship space. That pretty much covers the entire spectrum of post MBA opportunities.

This means that the alumni network (one of the key takeaways of an MBA) is entrenched in the higher echelons of power in all business (and non-business streams like politics) fields that you may be remotely interested in.

All this attracts the best and the brightest MBA applicants from across the world hoping to bag a seat at their dream school.

So, yes, it’s pretty darn hard to get into Harvard Business School.

Which is probably why a lot of applicants want to know the answer to the next question.
 

how hard is it to get into harvard business grad school

Unlike the earlier question, this one can actually be answered with statistics published by Harvard.

The selectivity rate for the Harvard MBA is 12%.

For the class of 2016, HBS received 9,543 applications. Considering the yield of 89% (i.e. the percentage of admitted students who actually joined), 1,859 joined the program.

The statistics may vary from year to year, and if you look at the trend, it has become tougher to get into HBS over the years. That should give you a general idea about your chances of getting into the Harvard MBA.

But as with all statistics, be aware of what these numbers don’t tell you. If you blindly assume that your chances of getting into HBS are 12%, that would be incorrect.

There are many other factors at play that aren’t captured by these statistics. The big one being the self-filtering that happens in the applicant pool even before the application is submitted.

As a hypothetical example, there may be 1000 aspirants out there who are crazy about getting into Harvard. But only 100 may actually apply.

The remaining 900 may have reasons not to jump on to the bandwagon. Some may believe that their application fee would be better spent on other programs where the chances of getting accepted are better than Harvard. Others may believe they can wait for a year or two to strengthen their profile.

Out of those 100, 12 will get an offer. It’s a simplistic example to prove a point. Despite the selectivity numbers, your chances of entering Harvard are not 12%. They may be better, or (most likely) worse – depending on your overall profile (industry, nationality, GMAT score, leadership experience) and more importantly – your potential as perceived by the Harvard MBA Admissions team.

Poets&Quants - What Are My Chances At Harvard Business School?

Harvard Business School Application Deadline

The application dates for the MBA Class of 2024 (matriculating fall 2022) are:

APPLICATION PERIODS:APPLICATION SUBMITTED ONLINE BY 12 NOON BOSTON TIME:NOTIFICATION OF THE MBA ADMISSIONS BOARD’S DECISION:
ROUND 108 SEP 202109 DEC 2021
ROUND 204 JAN 202230 MAR 2022

The application date for 2021 2+2 applicants was:

APPLICATION PERIOD:APPLICATION SUBMITTED ONLINE BY 12 NOON BOSTON TIME:NOTIFICATION OF THE MBA ADMISSIONS BOARD’S DECISION:
2+2 ROUND29 APR 202107 JUL 2021

Please note that each “round” represents a distinct period in which you may apply, not a succession of steps for your application. You may apply in one round only, one time in an application year.

Class of 2024 applications received after September 8, 2021 will be considered in Round 2. Applications received after January 4, 2022 will not be considered.

harvard business school online School Fees

With annual tuition set at $73,440, an MBA from Harvard Business School isn’t cheap. Add in the other costs, not including forgone wages, and the total comes to $111,818 per year — for a single student. Married students with kids can expect to pay much more.

Costs – 1 yearSingleMarriedMarried With One ChildMarried With Two Children
Tuition$73,440$73,440$73,440$73,440
Health Insurance$3,922$3,922$3,922$3,922
Course Fees$2,550$2,550$2,550$2,550
Room & Utilities$14,130$22,050$28,350$28,350
Board & Other$16,570$20,890$25,890$30,890
HUSHP For Student Spouses/Dependents$0$8,118$12,432$14,600
Total$111,818$132,176$147,790$154,958

how to get into harvard business school undergraduate

In this article, we’ll discuss the 7 steps that can help you secure an admit from Harvard Business School.

how to get into hbs
how to get into hbs mba

Here are 7 steps to getting into Harvard Business School (HBS) MBA program:

Step 1 – Start Research Early

Start your research at least 1 year before you plan to apply. The Round 1 application deadline for the HBS MBA class of 2023 is September 8, 2020, and Round 2’s deadline is January 5, 2021. I would suggest applying in the first round itself.

So, what kinds of research will you need to do? Well, there are 2 types of research that you’ll have to do

  1. External Research
  2. Internal Research

The takeaway from Step 1

  • The early bird catches the worm

HBS boasts a very high median GMAT score of 730 for its latest incoming class. Therefore, it’s really important to score above the median score for a successful HBS MBA application. Here are some free GMAT preparation resources for you.

Step 2 – Research External factors

Word of Caution – Before you start researching external factors, be prepared that you might feel overwhelmed and that’s normal. Keep your cool and remember, all those people who eventually got an admit in HBS started just like you.

HBS is one of the most sought after Business School. How about getting into Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg or other top business schools? Read this article on how to get into a top business school.

HBS Website Research

In External research, you should first start with Harvard Business School’s website. Research on the program you are planning to apply for (2- year MBA, executive program, HBX, Doctoral programs). Look at the facts and figures of their MBA program, Alumni, research, and their campus & culture. HBS boasts about their diverse classrooms. Take a look at the Harvard Business School (HBS) class profile, and employment reports to learn more.

If you are planning to take the GMAT, we can help you with a personalized study plan and give you access to quality online content to prepare. Write to us at [email protected] We are the most reviewed GMAT prep company on gmatclub with 2090+ reviews. Why don’t you take a free trial and judge for yourself?

LinkedIn Research

Review the profile of people who made it to Harvard Business School. There is a chance that you might feel that you are not as accomplished as those people are. That’s because they have presented their profile better than most individuals. And even if you stumble upon profiles of extraordinary individuals, just aspire to be better than them. It’s never too late to start.

Contact people on LinkedIn

When you have researched LinkedIn profiles, it’s time to contact them. Remember, they are busy people so they might take some time to respond. The idea is to contact lots of different people from diverse backgrounds and get their advice on your profile. Some people might not respond, so make sure you contact a lot of people. A few of them will surely give you sound advice, and you’ll feel the worth of this exercise.

Takeaways from Step 2

  1. Website research will reveal information about HBS’ programs, campus, culture, alumni, and diversity of its batch. Doing so will help you analyze how you can add value to its classroom and also help you identify your USP. It will also tell you which test to take. GMAT or GRE. We’ll personally suggest GMAT, as it holds immense value even after you complete your MBA. 
  2. Website research will also help you identify gaps in your academic profile. You’ll get to know the average GPA of the incoming batch. For the GMAT score, I would recommend you to look at the median score of 730. There are a few applicants who make it to HBS with a GMAT score of 600, but they are rare and have extraordinary profiles.
  3. The LinkedIn research will give help you talk with people who were once in the same position as you are today. They will not only be a source of valuable information but also a source of inspiration for you.

To get into a top business school like Harvard, you need inspiration while preparing for your GMAT. Here is a list of some amazing success stories of individuals who aced the GMAT and went on to get an admit from their target business schools.

HBS looks for well-rounded candidates.

Step 3 – Research Internal factors

By researching internal factors, I mean introspection. Once you have completed external research, you’ll have enough information to compare yourself with. Now, start thinking about your life. What makes you tick? If someone asks you, “How will you measure your life?”, What will your answer be?

While introspecting, we recommend that you stay away from distractions. Use a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts. These thoughts will be like proverbial breadcrumbs which led you to where you are today. List down the smallest of leadership positions you took and your achievements.

Do it every day for a few minutes. In a week or two, you’ll have a list of achievements, and you’ll now see your own story much more clearly.

The takeaway from Step 3
  1. Steve Jobs in his famous Stanford graduation speech said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” Doing so will help you make sense of your unique story. Therefore, introspect!!

Step 4 – Think like Harvard Business School’s Admission committee – Identify gaps

HBS’ admission committee wants a candidate who can not only ‘get in’ but also ‘get through’ their MBA program. If you want to build your profile to get an admit in Harvard Business School or any other top business school, you should –

  • Understand the different factors considered in the application
  • Weight-age of all those factors in the application
  • Which factors are under your control (unchangeable and changeable factors)
  • Work on the factors which are still under your control

A rough weight-age of different admission evaluation factors is as below

how to get into hbs admission factors

Out of all these factors, few will be out of your control by now, and a few will still be in your control. Read more on this topic in our article on – MBA Application Process – GMAT Score Weightage and other factors

The takeaway from step 4

  1. Thinking like an Ad-com is essential to understand the gaps in your application. If Your work experience is exceptional, then adding extracurricular work on top of it can make your resume impeccable. Take up some leadership work that would ultimately positively impact your peers. You feel social work is your calling. Join an NGO and help build weak communities.

Step 5 – Work on the gaps in your application

Let’s look at changeable vs. unchangeable factors and see how many of them are still under your control.

Changeable vs. Unchangeable Evaluation Factors

In the MBA application process, several parameters may not be under your control now (GPA/employer’s brand, etc), but a whopping 56% is still within your immediate control – GMAT, essays, interview, and recommendation lettersYou should focus on putting your best foot forward as far as these aspects are concerned.

Takeaways from Step 5
  1. Analyzing gaps in your application will tell you which areas to focus on.
  2. Classify factors into changeable and unchangeable.
  3. Work on factors that you can still control. Those factors have a 56% weight in your application.

Step 6 – Prepare and ace the GMAT

Your GMAT score accounts for 22% weight-age (16% for total GMAT score + 6% for GMAT quant score) in your application. Most students require 3 months of preparation time to achieve a 740+ score. Make sure to target a score which is 20+ more than the average GMAT score of your target B-school’s incoming batch. For HBS you should target 750, which is around 20 points more than 731 – the average GMAT score of last year’s batch. Here’s a detailed analysis of a good GMAT score for Harvard Business School

To achieve the envious GMAT score of 750, try this free online resource for GMAT preparation which is the highest reviewed GMAT prep company (1900+ reviews) on gmatclub.

Importance of GMAT score

Take a look at the chart below. It has been compiled by GmatClub for a sample size of 10029 applicants. It shows the role of the GMAT score in getting interview invites and post-interview acceptances in M7 elite business schools (Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, MIT Sloan)

how to get into harvard business school hbs mba

Unsurprisingly, the acceptance rate and interview invites are directly proportional to your GMAT score.

The takeaway from Step 6

Aim for a GMAT score which is 20+ points more than the average GMAT of the last incoming batch. For Harvard Business School, aim for a GMAT score of 750+

Step 7 – Apply to Harvard Business School’s (HBS) MBA Program

There are 3 steps in the application process

  1. Written Application
    • You need to prepare the following
    • Transcripts
    • GMAT/GRE Score
    • TOEFL/ IELTS/ Pearson Test of English (PTE) –  Make sure you get a TOEFL score higher than 109 on the iBT, an IELTS score higher than 7.5, or a PTE score higher than 75.
    • Resume
    • Acceptance of policies
    • Fee
  2. Interview
    • After submitting your application, it will be reviewed, and then you may be invited for an interview
  3. Post – Interview reflection
    • You have to submit a written reflection through the online application system of HBS within 24 hours of your interview
How to Get Into Harvard Medical School: Requirements and Strategies —  Shemmassian Academic Consulting

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