Harvard Sets New MBA Application Deadlines

hbs application deadlines

HBS students at graduation

With a complete admissions cycle under his belt, Harvard Business School’s chief gatekeeper Chad Losee was widely expected to make some changes to the school’s MBA application process.

After all, his predecessor, Dee Leopold, had switched up things on a near regular basis for years. The required post-interview reflection due within 24 hours of an admissions interview will be six years old this year. The one essay requirement will be four years old. Leopold’s essay prompt—“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”—for a response with no word limitation is now two years old.

With today’s release of HBS’ 2017-2018 application deadlines, Losee has shown he is not yet ready to make major changes. So this year applicants will have to answer the same essay prompt and the same written reflection within 24 hours of their interview with an admissions staffer. Lose set a round one deadline date of Sept. 6, a day earlier than last year’s Sept. 7 cutoff. The round two deadline is Jan. 3 (also a day earlier), while the final round 3 is “sometime in early April.” This past year it was April 3rd. All candidates to HBS’ 2+2 program must file their applications by the round three cutoff.

As is always the case, HBS effectively kicks off the 2017-2018 admissions season with the earliest deadline so far. The round one deadline at Yale’s School of Management is a week later on Sept. 13, while both Stanford GSB and Wharton have round one cutoffs of Sept. 19–a full 13 days after HBS. INSEAD’s first round for the September intake of 2019 is Sept. 20, while Columbia Business School’s early decision deadline is Oct. 4 this year (see 2017-2018 MBA Application Deadlines).


hbs application deadlines

A Harvard MBA from the Class of 2013, Chad Losee is managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid

Losee did not announce when HBS will notify candidates of the school’s decisions. Most likely, they will be on or very near last year’s dates. The 2016 round one applicants got answers on Dec. 14, while the round two candidates received word March 22. The final round applicants got decisions on May 10. The dates were announced by Losee in a brief blog post.

He noted that the past week has been “eventful in Dillon House—we sent out notifications to our regular admissions applicants and to our 2+2 applicants. To all of you who applied—thank you. I hope you got some value out of the process in better understanding yourself and in clarifying the goals you have for the future. We certainly understand it is a lot of work to apply. So thank you. Now, we need to start looking ahead to the Class of 2020!”

The former Bain & Co. consultant, who earned his MBA at Harvard in 2013, took over as managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid in May of last year. It’s not clear how or if Losee’s first admitted class will be different in any meaningful way as other recent classes. HBS doesn’t release its preliminary class profile for what would be the Class of 2019 until mid-July.


In any given application season, HBS receives more appilcations for its full-time MBA program than any other prestige business school in the world. Harvard also boasts the highest yield rate, the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll. Last year, 9,759 candidates applied to the school’s MBA program. HBS admitted 11% of that applicant pool to get to an enrolled class of 934 students. Some 90% of the candidates admitted ultimately enrolled at Harvard.

The class’ median GMAT is 730, with a middle 80% range of 690 to 760, and an average GPA of 3.67. Women composed a record 43% of Leopold’s last class, with 35% of the new students from abroad (see the class profile and how it compares to previous classes on the following page).


  • hbsguru

    Well one thing you have to do is really drill down on what is new since you last applied. If nothing is dramatically new you need to explain with some subtlety how you have become more self-aware more confirmed in your goals and just how you are a better applicant.

  • Jess

    any insight that you can share on how to approach the essay if you are a reapplicant (given the same essay question) would be helpful!

  • hbsguru

    thanks for this thorough report, John.
    New Losee or Old Leopold, I dont see HBS going back any time soon to those 5-7 essay applications of recent past with 1. 300 words on most sign. accomplishments, 2.300 words on failures, 3. 300 words undergraduate experience, and 4. a goals+why HBS essay to top it off etc.
    [ahem, altho that drill is probably better for me and my ‘fellow’ consultants].
    The current question recognizes that a good deal of your ‘story’ is clear from application, resume and scores. It puts a small premium on being able to pack in a lot on your resume, esp. some terse but impactful description of accomplishments and a sense of what your company does, what you do etc., esp. if it is not a brand name.
    I’d be happy to opine in interview w. you different ways to write this essay effectively, but in general you need to decide if anything actually needs to be explained, and if not, how to add value to resume, and application short answer boxes.
    For many applicants, esp. cookie cutter types from IB, PE, consulting, etc., the first rule of the essay is DO NO HARM, e.g. do not sound odd, annoying, or unaware–if you are otherwise solid but cookie cutter type, essay is read w. a very sensitive spring in adcom’s brain: is there something here that can eliminate this clown very quickly while still allowing me to have done a thorough job. Try to get past that filter.
    As often noted, on the plus side, essay cannot add inches to your height but it can make you stand up very straight. Sometimes that is the difference,.
    Not clear fr. Losee’s post: will reco form remain the same????
    More later, but if any general questions on this essay, just post.