HBS Debuts $150K+ Joint Master’s In Engineering

Harvard’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Harvard Business School today (June 13) added a sixth joint degree program with another Harvard school. The new two-year, full-time program with Harvard’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will confer both a Master of Science in Engineering Sciences and an MBA. The program, which yields about 80% of the academic credit required by the two schools separate degrees, will enroll its first class in August of 2018.   

The program in engineering brings to a half dozen the number of joint degree programs offered by HBS. Besides the JD/MBA and the MD/MBA with Harvard’s law and medical schools, respectively, the business school also boasts a DMD/MBA with the school of dentistry and two joint degrees with Harvard’s Kennedy School, an MBA/MPP (Master of Public Policy) and the MBA/MPA-ID (Master of Public Administration-International Development).

In keeping with its other joint degree programs, the school is aiming to enroll roughly 30 students in the engineering offering. But it won’t come cheap at a minimum total cost of more than $150,000. During both years of the program, MS/MBA students will be charged tuition that equals the annual tuition paid by standalone MBA candidates (currently $72,000 for the Class of 2019) plus the cost of the additional courses taken by MS/MBA students.


The announcement is a likely harbinger of further collaboration between the two Harvard schools. This summer ground will be broken on a 36-acre enterprise research campus that will ultimately allow the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to become physical neighbors. The new campus will extend  east along Western Avenue toward the Charles River. In an interview with Harvard Magazine, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria  said his “ultimate hope” is that the next Google or Facebook will be led by a graduate of the new program, joining the two schools and anchored in the ERC—a result he called “the trifecta.”

Designed to train future leaders of technology ventures, Harvard says the new program will provide a strong foundation in general management, build design skills, and extend students’ understanding of engineering. Prospective students must have an undergraduate degree in engineering, computer science or a related technical field and at least two years of full-time work experience. The program will leverage existing HBS and SEAS curricula, as well as several new courses designed and taught jointly by faculty from both schools.

The goal: To produce tech-savvy graduates who will either do their own technology-intensive startups or pursue careers as product managers, managers of engineering teams (i.e., “tech leads“), and consultants in firms that design new products. “If you think about the leaders who have captured the world’s imagination” in the past two decades, Nohria told Harvard Magazine, citing Amazon, Google, and Facebook, most have come from a technology background and have developed managerial skills along the way. The dean’s conversations with Amazon confirmed their interest in employing “people who could have this deep technical expertise along with general management” preparation.


The program spans four semesters, augmented by additional summer and January term coursework. In the first year of the program, students will take a System Engineering course that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing complex systems, as well as the HBS MBA Required Curriculum, which conveys concepts and builds skills across disciplines relevant to general management, including marketing, organizational behavior and finance. In the second year, students will take electives at each school. The program also features three new design courses that emphasize learning-by-doing and build students’ skills with human-centered design and lean experimentation methods.

“Finding effective solutions to the most daunting challenges calls for thinking across the boundaries of disciplines,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria in a statement.  “The faculty who created this program designed it specifically to bridge the divide between engineering and business for aspiring leaders in the tech sector who want to drive and manage innovation throughout their organizations.”

“This is a truly collaborative endeavor between HBS and SEAS,” added SEAS Dean Frank Doyle in a statement. “The expansion of SEAS to a state-of-the-art science and engineering complex across the street from HBS presents a compelling opportunity to leverage the resources of our schools. This collaborative program will meet the needs of an increasingly technology-driven world, in which breakthrough solutions to societal problems require deep knowledge of both engineering and business.”


As graduate students in SEAS, students will be formally enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and enjoy the benefits of affiliation with this vibrant academic community. Harvard master’s students join a cohort of innovative thinkers who seek to answer fundamental questions, advance new knowledge, and develop creative modes of inquiry in an interdisciplinary environment.

To gain admission to the MS/MBA program, students must:

  • Hold an engineering, computer science, or related undergraduate degree, with a record of outstanding academic achievement;
  • Have at least two years of full-time work experience, ideally in designing and/or developing technology-intensive products;
  • Meet the criteria for admission to both the HBS MBA program and the SEAS MS program.

“We are looking for individuals who want to balance their passion for engineering and innovation with a deep understanding of management and leadership,” said HBS Admissions Chief Chad Losee in a news release announcing the new program. “The students we are seeking have already distinguished themselves technically; this program will help propel them into leadership roles.”

The inaugural MS/MBA cohort will matriculate in August 2018. Candidates for the MS/MBA can apply in either Round 1 (September 6, 2017 application submission deadline) or Round 2 (January 3, 2018 deadline) to matriculate with the first cohort in August 2018. College seniors must apply in April (April 10, 2018 deadline) for “2+2” deferred admission. More details about the application process can be found here.


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