Are you dreaming of going to the world’s most prestigious business school? Harvard Business School consistently ranks among elite business schools globally, and every business degree aspirant wants to get admission there. However, this highly desired seat cannot be taken easily, and it is quite a challenge to go through the application process.
The admission process of Harvard Business School sets it apart because only a few students get selected among the sea of applicants. Therefore, it is important to understand what the Harvard Business School admission committee wants from an applicant. So, if you are also planning on understanding and preparing for the Harvard Business School admission process, continue reading this blog.
The Harvard Business School’s admission process is lengthy and requires extensive preparations. Therefore, it is better to start preparing for it as early as possible, probably a year or two, to increase your chances of selection. So, allow me to explain the whole process in an easy, step-by-step manner so you do not miss anything.
Step 1: Ask Yourself: What Do You Want?
The first step before taking on any journey in life is to sit down and contemplate the reason why you want to go for it. Similarly, you need to ask yourself: why and for what do I want to join Harvard Business School? Once you get a solid answer, you will have your plans straight, and you can start working on achieving your dreams.
Now is when you need to ask yourself if you would thrive in a learning environment where cold-calling and fast-paced debates are the norm. Harvard Business School uses the case study method in the classroom, takes scenarios from real business leaders, and students indulge in debate approaches. So, it would be best to consider all these things before applying because everyone wants to join the most desired school, but it cannot suit everyone.
Step 2: Do Your Research
Multiple things should be considered and planned before applying to Harvard Business School. It would be best if you researched the requirements for the course you are trying to join. Furthermore, the earlier you know about it, the better you will prepare for the tests and work on how much GPA is required to get admission.
Check out the HBS official website for facts and figures about their business programs, alumni, research, campus, and culture. Look for people who managed to get admission to Harvard Business School and, if possible, contact them and ask for advice, tips, and tricks. Moreover, this will get you on the actual process of working on your application.
Step 3: Match the Qualification Requirements
Above everything else, you must qualify for a Harvard business program. There is a high GPA requirement, GMAT, and some years of work experience.
The higher your score in these three areas, the more chances you have of getting into Harvard Business School. Even though many other things are also considered, the academic requirement is usually the foundational step in starting your preparations for Harvard admission.
The average undergrad GPA for the previous year’s students is around 3.7, with 4.7 years of work experience and a 730 median GMAT score. Furthermore, the HBS students come from different undergrad programs like engineering, economics, business, commerce, social sciences, math, and physical sciences.
Mastering the GMAT
Acing the GMAT test is crucial for admission into Harvard Business School. The bar is set remarkably high, with an average median of 730. Therefore, it is necessary to start preparing for it at least a year in advance.
It would be best if you aimed for a GMAT score at least 20+ points higher than the average GMAT of the previous year to increase your chances of selection. So, your GMAT score for Harvard Business School should be 750+ because the acceptance rate and interview rates are directly proportional to your GMAT score.
The GMAT score demands excellence, and early preparation will not only give you ample time to prepare but also give you time to retake it in case your initial score falls short. Furthermore, here’s a rough weight-age of different factors’ evaluation:
|GMAT total score
|GMAT quant percentile
|Length of work experience
|Industry of employment
Step 4: Select Your Recommenders Carefully
Another critical factor is the letters of recommendation; you need two crucial letters of recommendation with your application. These letters play a vital role in showcasing your alignment with the HBS’s core values, like leadership, analytical prowess, and community engagement. Similarly, as important as these letters are, selecting the right recommenders is crucial.
Chad Losee, the director of HBS MBA admissions management, focuses on choosing recommenders who can give constructive feedback based on their closeness with your work. However, if you know HBS alum, they can be the best recommenders. The point is to choose someone who truly understands you and your work.
Do not overlook this step because you can choose a person with prestigious and fancy titles, but if they fail to offer insights into different facets of your character, your letter will be useless. Moreover, if you have worked with other organizations, it is better to bring letters of recommendation from all of them instead of multiple requests from a single job. Diversity is always preferred, and your recommenders should focus on explaining your leadership experiences in academic, professional, and extracurricular contexts.
Step 5: Crafting Your Narrative
Apart from the letters of recommendation, it would be best if you had an essay, which is your chance to tell the admission committee more about yourself. Applicants often confuse it by writing an essay on why they chose Harvard. Instead, it is more about telling your story as they ask, ‘What more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School (900 words)?’.
You cannot rush this task and finish it in a single sitting; instead, it takes time for introspection, contemplating your past experiences, and thinking about your future aspirations. Similarly, these elements must be organized into a well-articulated story. Moreover, instead of only focusing on your academic achievements, try writing about your real-world experiences, bringing a diversity of backgrounds, and informing them about your unique qualities, perspective, and values.
Write about why this moment is the right moment to pursue this degree, your goal, what you aim to gain from this program, and what made you choose this degree. Most people like to think of the essay as an extended version of their resume; while this is true, it is essential to think deeply about yourself and let your essay be the medium through which you tell your unique story. Moreover, this gives the admission committee an idea about what you can bring to their community and what you can get through this degree.
Step 6: Prepare for the Interview
Reaching the HBS interview invitations is no joke because only one in five applicants gets the chance to be invited to an on-campus interview. Only half of these invited students receive admission offers. So, simply googling the interview questions will not work because each interview is different.
You will be interviewed by an HBS admission board who spends more time preparing for your interview than you. They know your whole academic journey, from your high school background to your work experience and extracurricular activities. Moreover, they have read your essay and are more versed in the narrative you presented, so the interview is tailored to individual applicants.
One piece of common advice for everyone is to spend time understanding yourself and finding out the answer to ‘why’ to justify your life and career decisions. You need to ask yourself why you chose your chosen career and why you chose a particular company for a job after graduating. So, the generic HBS interview questions will not work because HBS does not follow the one-size-fits-all approach.
Step 7: The Post-Interview Reflection and Closing Statement
If you think you are done applying for Harvard Business School, you are wrong because HBS requires submitting a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of appearing for the interview. It is crucial, and you cannot leave or overlook it. Furthermore, it allows the interviewees to say their last words in the conversation, allowing them to delve deep into the topics discussed during the interview.
You can address any gaps in your application or the interview and give them another chance to gain insight into your ability to make conversations and reflect on them. It should not be treated as another burden but rather as a concise and reflective way to offer further context and clarify points. Moreover, do not overthink it and view it as a closing statement given to you to reaffirm your candidacy.
Is it difficult to get into Harvard Business School?
Yes, getting into Harvard Business School is fairly difficult, and the competition increases each year. Moreover, they aim to select students from diverse nationalities, interests, and backgrounds.
What GPA do I need to get into Harvard Business School?
The average accepted GPA of the successful applicants of Harvard Business School is 3.7.
In essence, getting into Harvard Business School is an interesting process that gives you a chance to reflect on yourself. Moreover, it is also a challenging endeavor that requires careful preparation, introspection, and storytelling. So, the wise decision is to start preparing for it as early as possible because you need ample time to prepare for the GMAT, write an essay and recommendation letters, and prepare for the interview.