HBS Says Admits ‘Markedly Higher’ For 2+2 Re-Applicants

HBS is trying to attract undergrad students

HBS is trying to attract undergrad students

Earlier this month, Harvard Business School revealed that one in ten MBA students in this year’s incoming class had been rejected by the school when they first applied. That is an extraordinarily high number of re-applicants who made it through HBS’ admissions screen. At most other business schools, dinged candidates more typically comprise fewer than 10% of the entire applicant pool. At Columbia Business School, for example, re-applicants account for 8% of the entire pool, while at Yale School of Management they are about 6% of the pool.

HBS won’t disclose the number of re-applicants among the 9,686 who applied to the Class of 2017, but it has revealed that 94 of the 937 first year students had been turned down for admission.

In an interview with Poets&Quants, Dee Leopold, managing editor of admissions and financial aid, says that roughly 60% of the re-applicants who enrolled came from the regular applicant pool with the remaining 40% from the school’s 2+2 program which gives a deferred admission to undergraduate seniors who then must gain at least two years of work experience before enrolling in the MBA program.


“There was a significant increase this year in applications from formerly denied 2+2ers,” Leopold says. “I hope that means our message is getting across. The deny letter to 2+2ers makes it clear that ‘not now’ does not mean ‘not ever.’ 2=2 would be a dumb idea if all the people who didn’t get into this tiny program went off and thought that HBS was not in their future.”

Indeed, the ‘deny’ letter obtained by Poets&Quants explicitly invites dinged candidates to apply in the future. “Although this is disappointing news, please understand that this letter says “not now” vs. “not ever.” The 2+2 cohort is only a small segment of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2020; we hope that you will continue to grow and develop as a student and a leader and consider an application to the MBA Program in the future (see entire letter on next page).

Leopold says that the acceptance rate for former 2+2ers is “markedly higher” for 2+2 re-applicants than it is for re-applicants in the general pool where the acceptance rate would be below the overall 12% level. She says that there are 82 former 2+2ers in the Class of 2017, accounting for 8.8% of the incoming students.

  • sneamia

    Thanks Sandy, agreed it was quite confusing.

  • hbsguru

    NO, 82 kids who applied for 2+2 the first time, and got in the first time, showed up on campus to join the class of 2017 (e.g. the class starting right now). They were joined by ~37 kids who had applied to 2+2 a while ago, got dinged and applied again this year, and now enrolled.
    Entire story is confusing and rushed and a collaboration in obfuscation by Dee and my BFO John Byrne, who was too giddy about his Stanford expose to get this done clearly. Not sure what was on Dee’s mind!!! But tactical obfuscation is part of her job description, along w. much else that we love her for.
    See my post below for what I make of all this, although if some other person wants to spend an hour or two trying to sift thru this and make some other connections based on scattered and often misleading data, please do! and report back.

  • sneamia

    Am I reading this right? 82 out of the 94 reapplicants who were accepted are former 2+2 rejects?

  • jk2018

    Makes sense. 61% of the admits are STEM, so that undoubtedly props up the GMAT score. Considering the 2+2 program has claimed to target STEM undergrads, this result in refreshingly transparent.

  • josh

    median gmat is 740! did they turn hbs to another indian institute. can someone tell them test scores don’t make leaders.

  • hbsguru

    ahem, I am someone who actually enjoys saying, “I told you so.” No matter how you spin this story, the fact is, its earlier version http://poetsandquants.com/2015/09/04/10-of-hbs-students-were-dinged-before/
    strongly suggested that the HBS reapp success rate was high since 1/10 enrolled students was a reapp. (hello, that means sorta 94 people). Although neither that story nor this one, actually says what reapp success rate because we never find out what the total number of reapps was to get to those 94 admits. I noted at the time that I strongly suspected A LOT of those reapp admits were 2+2. So my guess was, even that 10 percent of the class were reapps stat (which is different than saying reapp success rate is 10 percent, please note!) was not good news for general reapplicants (non-2+2). This story says 40 pct of those 94 were 2+2, e.g 36-37 people.
    While we still do not have the missing piece, how many total NON 2+2 reapplicants there were, we know whatever that number 57 got in. viz. e..g 36 2+2ers reapps minus the 94 total].

    Total number of reapplicants: we don’t know (how come, what is the secret)
    Number of reapplicants admitted: 94
    Number of that 94 who were 2+2 dings: ~37
    Number of that 94 who are not 2+2 dings but just regular dings: ~57
    ALSO,”She says that there are 82 former 2+2ers in the Class of 2017″ –which I take to mean,
    82 2+2 kids who got in the first time. Never been dinged.
    Any way you sniff out these numbers, it just gives off a very strong vibe that those 57 non-2+2 readmits were part of pretty large general readmit application pool. E.g. closer to 1000 than to 570 (which would be the number if general readmit success rate was 10%.)

    Another piece of suggestive evidence is that Dee is already spinning this story (calling the Donald) as one about elevated number of 2+2 rejects getting the word to reapply. and getting in. SO HEY 2+2 rejects apply. She is not doing any spin on how easy it is for reapps in general to get in, which was spin on the original story.