HBS Sets Sept. 9 Round One Deadline

Harvard Business School across the Charles River

Harvard Business School across the Charles River

Harvard Business School is going to give a lot of MBA applicants who want to attend the school a break this year: It’s newly announced Sept. 9th first round deadline, moved up by a full week last year and 15 days earlier than the cutoff in 2013, will stay exactly the same as it was.

Dee Leopold, HBS’s managing director of admissions and financial aid, said the school will push its application for the Class of 2018 live in mid-June. Harvard’s essay and recommender questions will be posted on May 15th.

Last year there was no change in HBS’ open-ended single essay which has no word limit. The prompt: “You’re applying to Harvard Business School.  We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.  What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?”


It’s not yet known whether Leopold will change the essay for 2015-2016 MBA candidates, but she is known for switching things around so a new question could very well be likely. The announcement by Leopold was made in a April 29th post on her blog.

HBS’ admission officers are now in the midst of their final round three interviews with Class of 2017 applicants and expect to finish up those last admit decisions by May 13th.  Interviews are taking place on campus today (May 1) and on Monday, May 4th.

Most typically, Harvard puts up the earliest deadline of all the top business schools. West Coast rival Stanford Graduate School of Business often gives candidates an additional three weeks to submit on Oct. 1.



Last year, will notify applicants in its first round on the same date as HBS but you don’t have to apply to the school until Oct. 1, three weeks after the Harvard application deadline. Most other schools have yet to post their new dates or applications.

The general advice to applicants: Apply in the first round when none of the seats in the class are filled. At most schools, early applicants have an advantage over those that complete their applications in later rounds. There are some other reasons why you want to get your app in early:

  • The ability to receive a scholarship award from the school’s Financial Aid Office prior to the date by which you must respond to your offer of admission.
  • Ample time to complete recommended quantitative and/or language coursework prior to arrival on campus.
  • Access to on-campus housing lottery systems at some schools.
  • Sufficient time to complete the visa application process for international candidates.
  • Attendance at a school’s Admit Weekends. Sometimes, round three candidates lose out on this opportunity.

All that said, the best time to apply is when you believe you’ve done the best job possible with your application. If you have to rush and cut corners to make round one, don’t. Hold off until another round. At all the highly selective business schools, admissions officials are looking for reasons to cut you from the pool. After all, the odds are substantially against you and as many as 80% of the candidates in any school’s applicant pool are usually fully qualified to attend. So you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward when you do apply.


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