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Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School (HBS) is located in Boston, Massachusetts, just a short trip away from the University’s main campus in Cambridge. The first school in the world to offer the Master’s of Business Administration degree, HBS has a full-time MBA program known for pioneering the case method of business instruction. The case method continues to be one of the hallmarks of the HBS MBA program today, in addition to the school’s highly structured Required Curriculum and emphasis on cultivating young leaders.

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A total of 188 full-time faculty members at Harvard Business School work . These scholars and practitioners teach courses and staff the school’s ten global research centers and 16 initiatives, which cover topics from business history to U.S. competitiveness.


One of the hallmarks of HBS’s MBA program is its extensive use of the case method, in which class discussions revolve around assigned readings based on real-world business problems.  Professors also use computer simulations, problem sets, and group assignments to help convey course material.

HBS divides its first-year class into 10 sections of roughly 90 students apiece, with each section constructed to mirror the class’s diversity; the students in each section take all of their first-year classes together.  To allow students to collaborate with classmates from outside their section, every incoming student is also assigned to a learning team of six to seven people from different sections.  Throughout the first year, these learning teams meet regularly to prepare for in-class case discussions and collaborate on graded projects.

Harvard’s MBA curriculum takes place across four semesters of 15 to 18 weeks each, referred to as Fall and Winter Terms.  All students spend the first two semesters of the MBA program taking 11 courses, known as the Required Curriculum or “RC” for short.  Following a three-day orientation period, Fall Term of RC classes begins in early September, featuring five semester-long courses that focus on issues businesses face internally.  Fall Term ends in mid-December.  Spring Term, which lasts from the end of January through late May, is comprised of five semester-long courses that examine how an organization interacts with external groups in a variety of social and economic contexts.  Since 2011, an additional part of the RC has been a yearlong course called Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD).  FIELD is made up of three modules on leadership development and globalization.

In the second year, known as the Elective Curriculum (EC), students may take up to five full-term courses per semester; in the 2017-2018 academic year, EC students could choose from over 120 full-time electives across 10 subject areas in addition to 17 field learning opportunities.   Unlike most MBA programs, HBS does not offer any formal majors or concentrations, instead allowing students to shape their second-year curriculum however they see fit.  Though HBS students may not study abroad, EC students can cross-register for up to two courses at Harvard University graduate schools or at several other institutions in the Boston area.  In addition, HBS’s required Immersion Experience Program allows students to gain global exposure through short-term experiential learning opportunities in countries such as China, Peru and South Africa.

Other MBA Degree Options

In addition to its 22-month full-time MBA program, HBS offers a joint JD/MBA program with Harvard Law School, an MD/MBA program with Harvard Medical School, a DMD/MBA with Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and a MBA/MS with the Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.  HBS also offers an MBA/Master of Public Policy and an MBA/Master of Public Administration in International Development in conjunction with the Harvard Kennedy School.

College students hoping to attend HBS in the near future can apply during their senior year via the 2+2 Program.  Students accepted through 2+2 are granted advanced admission to the full-time MBA program upon completing two years of professional work experience in an HBS-approved position.

Required Courses at HBS

Term I

  • Finance I
  • Financial Reporting and Control
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior • Marketing
  • Technology and Operations Management • FIELD Foundations
  • FIELD 2

Term II

  • Business, Government, and the International Economy Strategy
  • The Entrepreneurial Manager
  • Finance II
  • Leadership and Corporate Accountability
  • FIELD 3

Degree Offerings at HBS

Full-time MBA Program
Joint Degree Programs

Doctoral Programs
Doctorate of Business Administration: Accounting & Management, Management, Marketing, Strategy, Technology and Operations Management
Ph.D.: Business Economics, Health Policy (Management), Organizational Behavior

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Clubs, Conferences & Competitions

HBS students are provided with many opportunities for extracurricular involvement. Full-time MBA students can choose from more than 70 student-run clubs, which cover a variety of industry, regional, social, and sports interests. For example, the Outdoors Club organizes outdoor treks during the winter and spring breaks, in addition to skiing, hiking and rafting trips throughout New England. Meanwhile, members of the TechMedia Club host industry speaker series, an annual alumni panel and dinner, and visits to leading high tech and media companies. The Student Association, of which all HBS students are members, represents the school’s student body as a whole.

HBS’s clubs organize a number of conferences on campus annually. These span industry-related events, such as the Healthcare Club’s annual Healthcare Conference, as well as affinity-related events including the Women’s Student Association’s annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference. Students can also participate in a variety of business competitions. One of the most popular is the New Venture Competition, in which teams of students pitch business ideas to a panel of judges and compete for over $300,000 in prizes.

Campus Space

The HBS campus is located in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, just across the river from Harvard University’s main campus in Cambridge. HBS’s campus encompasses 34 buildings in total, with the majority of classes held in Aldrich Hall and Hawes Hall. In December 2013 the school unveiled Tata Hall, a new Executive Education building located on the Northwest corner of the campus. This seven-story glass and brick building includes residential space, classrooms, and common areas for Executive Education participants. Meanwhile, the Spangler Center is the hub of student social activity, featuring 29 project rooms, a 350-seat auditorium, and the school’s main dining facilities. Over a third of HBS students live on campus in the school’s five residence halls, and there is a large selection of other housing options available through Harvard University Housing and private listings.

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Career Services

The MBA Career & Professional Development program provides HBS students with a range of services to help them clarify and achieve their career goals. The school’s dedicated on-campus interview period for first-year students takes place for four days in late January, while second-year on-campus dedicated interviews begin in late October and last for three days. In advance of the first-year recruitment period, HBS holds Industry Weeks, a series of presentations and panels that help students learn more about different job sectors. First-year students can also join Career Teams, in which they are guided through the job search process by a trained second-year leader. In addition, the school has over 50 trained career coaches on staff to offer students individual advice throughout their entire time at HBS. MBA Career & Professional Development also helps recruiting companies develop a presence on campus through events such as Company Information Days.

HBS Career Statistics

Within three months of graduating, 89% of the HBS Class of 2017 had accepted full-time job offers.  The median base salary of all graduates was $135,000, with a median signing bonus of $25,000.  Thirty-two percent of students graduated into financial services functions and 25% into consulting.  The next most popular functions among graduates were general management and management at 13% and 12%, respectively.  Meanwhile, 6% of the most recent class went into business development, and 8% into strategic planning, while the remaining 5% selected other functions.

In terms of industry, the most common choice for 2017 graduates was financial services at 31%, a three-point increase from the previous year, and consulting came in second at 23%.  Sixteen percent of the Class of 2017 entered the technology industry, and 7% and 5% each went into healthcare and manufacturing, respectively.  Graduates also took jobs in consumer products, non-profit/government, retail, and entertainment/media, albeit in fewer numbers.

As is often the case at business schools, HBS placed a large number of graduates, 44%, in the region where it is located: the Northeastern U.S.  Twenty-five percent of the Class of 2017 headed to the Western U.S., while 6% moved to the Midwest and 5% to the Mid-Atlantic.  The Southern and Southwestern regions of the country, meanwhile, drew 4% and 3% of the Class of 2017, respectively.  Thirteen percent of the class took jobs outside of the United States, with the most popular areas being Asia and Europe.

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HBS Class Profile

Admission to HBS is highly competitive, as the school accepted just 11% of those who applied to the Class of 2019, with the entering class totaling 928 students. The median GMAT score of first-year entrants was 730, and the middle 80% of the scores ranged from 580 to 790.

The average student in the Class of 2019 was 27 years old upon matriculation. Forty-five percent of the class of 2019 majored in economics and business administration for their undergraduate degree; other popular majors were science/technology/engineering/math and humanities/social sciences at 36% and 19%, respectively. Prior to attending HBS, 15% each of the most recent entering class worked in both the high tech/communications and venture capital/private equity industries, 16% in consulting, and 11% in financial services. Consumer products, energy, government/education/non-profit, and healthcare/biotech contributed roughly 7% each of students in the Class of 2019.

Thirty-five percent of the Class of 2019 claims international citizenship from a total of 70 different countries. In addition, women comprise 42% of the first-year class, and 25% identify as members of a U.S. minority group.

Application Procedures

Applicants can apply to HBS during one of three admissions rounds; these deadlines are typically in early September, January, and April.  In addition to filling out an online application regarding their biographical information and career history, applicants must submit an essay, a résumé, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate academic institutions attended.  The school also requires applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores and a TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE score if needed, as well as a $250 application fee and a signed acceptance of the school’s admissions policies.  Harvard’s MBA Admissions Board conducts interviews on an invitation-only basis, and interviews are required for admission to the program.  HBS also introduced a post-interview reflection exercise.

Application Checklist

  • Data Forms
  • Acceptance of HBS Admissions Policies
  • GMAT/GRE and TOEFL/IELTS/ PTE Score(s)
  • Résumé
  • Application Fee
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Academic transcripts
  • Essay

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The tuition for the Class of 2020 is $73,440.  HBS estimates, though, that with additional expenses such as rent and textbooks, single students will pay approximately $109,124 for the year.  The school offers need-based fellowships to help students fund their education. To be considered for these awards, students must fill out the FAFSA and a financial aid application that is made available on the HBS Intranet after admission to the program.  HBS students can also finance their studies through The Harvard University Employees Credit Union allows international students at HBS to take out loans without a U.S. co-signer.

Program Tuition (per year)

  • Tuition $73,440
  • Program Support Fee (books, etc.) $2,550
  • Room & Utilities (9 months, single) $13,350
  • Board, Personal, Other (9 months, single) $15,242
  • University Student Health Fee $1,178
  • Student Health Insurance Plan $3,364
  • Total $109,124

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