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MBA Spotlight Series: Harvard Business School

In the second entry of our MBA Spotlight Series, we’re looking at arguably the world’s most famous university and MBA program; The Harvard Business School.



The Basics


Established in 1908, Harvard Business School has been a pioneer in business and management education for over a century. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the university houses close to 6,800 undergraduate students and 14,000 postgraduate students every year.


Coming to the business school itself, the HBS MBA is a residential full-time two year program, with an average class size of close to 930 students.


For the Class of 2023 (matriculating fall 2021), the program has two application rounds, with deadlines on 8th September 2020 and 5th January 2021. The average full time work experience of the current MBA batch is 4.7 years, with a median GMAT score of 730.


The program was ranked 1st and 2nd in the FT Global MBA rankings for 2020 and 2019 respectively.


Key Program Details


Case Method

Harvard was the world’s first MBA program to introduce the case method, which takes students out a theoretical setting and launches them into the challenges of the real world. The case method requires study to analyze and assess the problems in front of them, understanding the causes and collaborating to find meaningful solutions. The MBA class at Harvard covers close to 500 cases over the two years, of which ~33% are international cases.


The Field Method

Along with the case method, HBS also introduced the FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) method in 2011 as a year-long course for first year students for them to translate their ideas and initiatives into action. This also includes a semester long ‘FIELD Global Immersion’, where students are paired with a Global Partner company with a product or service challenge to address. It culminates in a one-week immersion at the company’s location during which students meet with their GP and local consumers.


Joint Programs

HBS has created six joint degree programs with other schools in the university to allow students to develop their management skills and specific expertise together. These joint degree programs are MS/MBA Biotechnology, MBA/MPP, JD/MBA, DMD/MBA, MD/MBA, and the MS/MBA Engineering Sciences.



Admission Criteria

The MBA application consists of academic performance, test scores, professional experiences, essays and recommendations. The HBS website lists three primary characteristics that they look for in successful MBA candidates:


  1. Habit of Leadership: The school believes leadership is a trait in its students which will further be enhanced during the program, and it looks for evidence of the same in their past experiences. It looks for displays of leadership at all levels and across all aspects of life, from academic and business to personal and societal.

  2. Analytical Aptitude and Appetite: The HBS MBA is a rigorous program and a large majority of its curriculum, through the case and field methods, requires students to be independent in their thought, analytical in their understanding, and vocal in discussions. The evidence of these attributes is assessed through past academic/competitive testing, and an applicant’s experiences at work.