Harvard Business School announced it is expanding its class size for the next two years and will formalize internship requirements. HBS has traditionally enrolled around 900 students in the MBA program, but the full-time MBA Classes of 2023 and 2024 will each enroll around 1,000 students. Beginning with this year’s entering Class of 2022, a summer internship program will be a requirement of the MBA.
Increasing Enrollment, Maintaining Community Connections
HBS offered deferrals this year to help students navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the current class size to 732. Increasing enrollment for the next two admission cycles will ensure that spots reserved for those who deferred from the Class of 2022 won’t reduce opportunities for other candidates.
“Our goal in expanding the class size is to preserve the full opportunity for people applying in the next year or two to be admitted to Harvard Business School,” says Chad Losee, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid. “We do did not want our generosity in granting deferrals with the onset of the pandemic to discourage future applicants.”
Generally, each class is divided into “sections” of 90 students for the first year’s required curriculum, creating an academic and social community to personalize the experience and help foster lasting connections. The school plans on adding additional sections to accommodate more students while still preserving the experience and relationship potential that the 90-person section divisions provide.
The pandemic has forced business schools to consider how to maintain a meaningful classroom experience. HBS’s case method pedagogy required a hybrid approach that would preserve effective case discussion while allowing synchronous learning between remote students and those in the classroom. Students rotate between in-class and distance-learning sessions to maintain capacity restrictions. HBS invested in digital monitors and additional microphones to create a more engaging space for remote students to participate through Zoom. The in-class students join the Zoom meeting so that the two student groups can better and more equitably interact in the class discussion.
Formalizing a Student Tradition
Despite 99 percent of students pursuing a summer internship, it was not a requirement of the HBS MBA program. In recognition of the networking and hands-on opportunities to work in their desired field internships can offer, the school has now made it a requirement. “Much like our case method, which uses real-world examples to examine important business practices, it’s equally as important for MBA students to gain practical experience,” says Losee. He adds, “HBS also provides Summer Fellowships to help students explore internship opportunities in new areas of interest.”
Students have the option to work with an established organization or to engage in entrepreneurship. The experience can be paid or unpaid. Waivers will be available for students who are unable to complete a summer internship for reasons such as family obligations. In addition to the obvious connection to the curriculum and career experience opportunity, there is an added benefit for international students in that this program offers them U.S. employment eligibility.