Harvard Business School
1. Harvard University
Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
Apply Online: http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/apply.html
When people think about the MBA degree, the very first school that springs to mind is Harvard Business School (HBS). HBS is synonymous with the degree and literally sets the pace for the industry. Everything it does instantly makes news–both good and bad. And Harvard’s new dean, Nitin Nohria, has immediately injected energy and enthusiasm in the school.
Since assuming leadership of HBS on July 1, 2010, Nohria has racked up accomplishments that would have taken some B-school deans a decade or more to achieve–they include crafting and communicating a new agenda for the school known as “the five i’s” for innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion, and integration; pushing through significant changes to the MBA program against concerns by some that he was moving too fast; and raising millions of dollars in donations, including a $50 million gift from India’s Tata Group and its philanthropic interests. All of these moves build on the formidable reputation and clout of the so-called “West Point of Capitalism,” a business school that, frankly, is a university unto itself, with 33 separate buildings on 40 acres of property along the Charles River.
Harvard’s case method curriculum is designed to prepare students for the challenges of leadership in the real world. Though case studies maintain their dominant role at Harvard, the school has introduced several major changes that mix up the traditional HBS formula for training leaders. MBA students now take turns leading a group engaged in specific, assigned projects. They are also sent to work for a week with one of more than 140 firms in 11 countries, ranging from a Brazilian soap maker to a Chinese real estate management company. Groups are also given eight weeks and seed money of $3,000 each to launch a small company. The most successful, as judged by a vote of their fellow students, receives additional funding.
These very ambitious changes–especially for an MBA program the size and scope of Harvard’s–build on what has long been an engaging and proactive learning environment, where students develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to face a variety of difficult decisions they’ll encounter throughout their careers.
Students spend their first two terms completing the required curriculum with a “section” of 90 students to which they are assigned. This group of students takes all first-year classes together and forms an intellectual and social circle. During the second year, students choose up to five courses per semester to build their elective curriculum of choice. The new curriculum changes this up a bit, adding shorter courses into the course catalog.
In the 2012-2013 admissions season, Harvard announced significant changes in the way it assesses MBA applicants. The school cut the number of required essay questions in half, from four to two and added a novel 24-hour test for applicants who make the first cut and get an interview with admissions. Those candidates have to write a 400-word essay on what they wish they’d said but didn’t during the interview and put it on their online application within 24 hours of the interview.