Dee’s Final Harvard Class Of 2018

On Harvard Business School's sprawling campus

On Harvard Business School’s sprawling campus

For the past 10 years, Dee Leopold has carefully constructed each of the incoming classes at Harvard Business School from the largest MBA applicant pool in the world. Today (July 16), HBS released its “sneak peek” of the very last class that Leopold, the former managing director of admissions, has had a major hand in guiding into the school’s prestigious MBA program.

The verdict? Leopold leaves her job having enrolled the largest percentage of women in HBS history. A record 43% of the incoming class will be female, up two percentage points from the 41% level that has remained steady for the past three years. That’s 401 of the 942 students that will come to campus next month. Only six years ago, women represented just 36% of the incoming MBA students at Harvard.

The other big news: Students with experience in the consulting industry reached a new modern low of only 15%. That’s down just a percentage point from last year and three points from two years ago, but it’s a full seven percentage points below the Class of 2012, when more than one in five (22%) hailed from consulting. Incoming students from one of the most lucrative industries that send young professionals to business school — private equity and venture capital — also were down to 15% this year, from 17% in each of the two previous entering classes.


Leopold closed out her final season as admissions director with her fifth consecutive year of increasing application volume. HBS said that it received 9,759 applications for its 942 first-year MBA seats, up just a tad below 1% from the 9,686 applications that came into admissions a year earlier. The school’s acceptance rate remained 11% and its yield — the percentage of admits who enroll — again hit 90%, the best yield rate for any business school in the world.

Otherwise, there were few changes in the preliminary class profile released today (July 16) by Leopold’s successor, the former Bain & Co. consultant Chad Losee, who graduated with his MBA from Harvard only three years ago. See HBS Puts Bainie In Admissions Job.) Harvard maintained its median GMAT of 730 for the class, with a middle 80% range of 690 to 760. For the first time, HBS did not report the full range of GMAT scores as it had in the past, perhaps a sign that Losee will run a slightly less transparent admissions office. The average undergraduate grade-point average was exactly the same as last year: 3.67.

The international contingent in the Class of 2018 at 35% — a mere percentage point above last year — will hail from 69 countries. Some 149 international universities are represented in the class, along with 141 domestic universities. Leopold enrolled fewer North Americans this time around, 68%, a decline of three percentage points from 71% a year earlier. That decline was made up by increases in students from Europe (11% this year versus 9% last year) and South and Central America (5% this year versus 3% a year ago). Some 11% of the class — exactly the same as last year — comes from Asia, with 1% each from Africa and Oceana.


Students with undergraduate degrees in the humanities and the social sciences as well as those with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees make up a bit more of this year’s incoming class. Some 21% of the class have humanities and social science backgrounds, up from 19% a year earlier, while STEM grads will comprise 38% of the new students, up from 36% last year. The upshot: Business and econ majors fell by four full percentage points to 41% of the Class of 2018, down from 45% a year ago.

Besides the shift to fewer consultants, venture capitalists, and private equity analysts, there were only minor changes to the industry makeup of the new class. Students with work experience in technology, consumer products, energy, and other services will account for a larger part of the incoming class. Those with backgrounds in healthcare, government agencies and nonprofits will slightly decline.

The largest industry sector in the new class is finance, representing 26% of the students. Technology and consulting each have a 15% share of the class. Young professionals from the government, education, and nonprofit sectors will represent 8% of the students, down from 9% a year ago. Those with consumer product or energy backgrounds will each represent 7%, up from 6% last year. Heavy manufacturing and the military both remained at 5% each, while other services bumped up two percentage points to 6% from 4%.

As for Leopold, who earned her MBA from HBS in 1980 and did a brief stint on Wall Street before returning to the HBS fold, she remains active at the school as the program director for 2+2, the deferred admit program she created for undergraduate students in college and graduate students in full-time master’s programs. This is a new job at HBS which had previously been handled by several staffers. HBS admits between 100 and 120 2+2 candidates each year.

(See following page for all the stats and how they compare with the two previous years)

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