HBS Liking Slightly Older Applicants

Admits in Harvard Business School’s incoming fall class with six or more years of work experience increased by a whopping 69% over last year, reflecting a greater preference for slightly older MBA candidates, according to the school’s admission office today (June 21). The school’s admissions office reported that its incoming class includes 191 candidates who earned their undergraduate degrees six or more years ago, up from only 113 last year.

As reported earlier, the average age of Harvard’s incoming MBA candidates will jump by a full year to 27 from 26 a year ago. The change–occuring in a year in which HBS will receive its first cohort of 2+2 program admits whose admission had been deferred two years ago–suggests a conscious effort to open the doors to slightly older applicants.

The “sweet spot” for this year’s HBS admits shows that the vast majority earned their undergraduate degrees in 2006-2008, which translates into five to three years of full-time work experience (see table below). Harvard plans to enroll no one without work experience and only three of 918 admits have just one year of work experience under their belts.

The school’s intake of students with two years of experience increased to 113 from 85 last year, largely the result of Harvard’s first cohort of 2+2 program which granted deferred admission to undergraduate applicants after they gain two years of work experience. Some 60 2+2 are among the 113 in the entering class this fall.

The information was published by Deirdre Leopold, director of MBA admissions and financial aid, on her “Director’s Blog” in the form of a chart (see below) without commentary.

Admits who received their undergraduate degrees three and four years ago respectively fell to 172 from 242 a year earlier and 245 from 288 last year. The greater emphasis on slightly older applicants is apparent among the group of admits who earned their undergraduate degrees five or more years ago.

Admits who finished their undergraduate education five years earlier increased to 196 from 177 last year, while those with a six-year gap rose to 94 from just 66 last year. That trend continues out for several more years. Some 48 members of this fall’s incoming class got their undergraduate degrees seven years ago, up from 30; 26 left their undergraduate alma maters eight years ago, up from 11; nine left a full nine years earlier, up from one last year; eight admits had been out of undergraduate school for a full ten years, up from none a year earlier.

And here is how all the numbers compare to the previous year:


Count of Undergrad Year — Class of 2012



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