This year’s big news for Harvard Business School candidates is the elimination of round three as an application option. With more and more MBA candidates filing their applications in the first and second rounds, HBS did away with its third and final round. The school will retain a spring round, however, for applicants to its 2+2 deferred admissions program.
That leaves mainstream applicants two choices: A round one deadline of Sept. 5th for entry into the Class of 2021 and a Jan. 3rd, 2019 deadline for round two applicants. For R1 candidates at HBS, that deadline is a day earlier than last year’s Sept. 6th date.
Applicants to HBS’ first round will be notified of the admission board’s decision on Dec. 11th, while round two candidates will get their decisions by March 26th. The school hasn’t yet set a date for interview invitations, though last year round one invites went out in two batches on Oct. 2nd and Oct. 5th. Round two invites also were sent in two batches on on Jan. 25th and Jan. 30th. During each second batch of invites, HBS also dings the majority of its applicants.
At HBS, each round represents a distinct period in which candidates may apply, not a succession of steps for your application. Applicants may apply in one round only, one time in an application year.
Harvard’s 2018-2019 MBA Application Deadlines
|HBS Rounds||Application Deadline||Interview Invites||Decisions|
|Round One||September 5, 2018||NA||December 11, 2018|
|Round Two||January 3, 2019||NA||March 26, 2019|
Class of 2021 applications received after Sept. 5, 2018 will be tossed into round 2. Applications received after January 4, 2019 will not be considered. Candidates for the school’s deferred admissions program, 2+2, must apply by April 9, 2019, or they will not be reviewed for admission.
HBS also noted that it would retain its one essay question with no word limit on the answer: “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?” This will be the fifth year that HBS has used that question, hatched by Losee predecessor Dee Leopold.
For Chad Losee, who became managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid two years ago, the elimination of round three represents the most consequential change he has yet made in the school’s admission policies. He said it was made after “careful consideration. Getting a decision earlier will give admitted students better access to on-campus housing, more cohort options for HBX CORe, and more time for visa processing,” wrote Losee in a blog post about the change. “For students admitted in Round 3 in the past, the timing has always been tight. We know it takes a lot to finish up a job and move to a new city and we hope the additional time will be helpful to admits on a number of fronts. And given that we’ve seen more applicants in Rounds 1 an 2 and fewer in Round 3 in recent years, this change feels consistent with the choices you are making about when to apply.”
HBS RECEIVED 10,151 APPLICATIONS FOR 928 CLASSROOM SEATS
During the 2017-2018 admissions cycle, Harvard received 10,351 applications for its 928 classroom seats, up 6% over the previous year. In fact, this represents a 15.5% improvement over the past five years, another indication of the school’s ever-growing cachet. The school admitted 1,021 candidates last year for an overall acceptance rate of about 10%. That also gives HBS the highest yield for a business school in the world, with 91% of admitted candidates ultimately enrolling in the MBA program.
Academically, last year’s class arrived with a blistering 730 median GMAT – for the eighth consecutive year. The range of GMAT scores varied from a low of 580 to a high of 790. The median verbal score on the GMAT for this fall’s incoming class was 42, while the quant was 49. The verbal range, however, was as low as 30 and as high as 51; the quant range hit a low of 35 and matched the verbal high of 51.
Some 12% of this year’s new crop of students got into HBS with a GRE score. The median GRE on both verbal and quant was 164, with a verbal range of 147 to 170 and a quant range of 151 to 170. Average GPAs rose slightly, last year from 3.67 to 3.71. The average age of an entering MBA student at HBS is 27, with 54 months of work experience. In terms of majors, the class is relatively similar to its second year peers, though slightly more business-oriented. The percentage of business and economics majors climbed from 41% to 45% with the 2019 Class. At the same time, STEM and humanities and social sciences majors each slipped by 2%, coming in at 36% and 19% respectively. Among the 302 higher education institution represented in the class, just 146 are found on American soil.
ADVICE FROM CURRENT MBA STUDENTS AT HARVARD:
“Harvard Business School makes it very clear that the GMAT is just one of many things they look at in evaluating an applicant. But it’s still something that most people worry about, so in my view it makes good sense to study hard for the GMAT. Use some reasonably priced GMAT prep software to assist with giving yourself the best chance of maximizing your score. A strong GMAT score is one indicator of your analytical ability and enables you to more fully focus on your other key attributes in your essay. Attributes such as leadership, teamwork, ethics, cultural diversity and strategic perspective will help set you apart from other analytically strong candidates. Equally as important as the application process, I believe, is your personal preparation to attend business school. As a married international student with two children, I can attest to the massive effort required from those in your network to get you to your business school of choice. Everyone will have different circumstances but you will be amazed at the support you will require. From recommendations and interview preparation to dealing with financial matters, the move to a new city, and those in your professional network who will help you long after you graduate, you are relying on a lot of support to be successful. For me, my family have been the stars of this process and the enthusiasm they have shown throughout our transition to Harvard is testament to the fact that everyone needs a good team to succeed.” — Jonathon McCarthy, Class of 2019 MBA student at Harvard
“I cannot stress the importance of positive self-talk. During a rough patch while studying for the GMAT, it dawned on me that some of the things I said to myself, I’d never say to a friend. I was beating myself up pretty bad: I constantly questioned my intelligence and adopted self-doubt as my default. To begin challenging those negative thoughts, you must first become more aware of them. Make a conscious effort to slow down and pay attention to your thoughts. Stop and notice when you are feeling negative emotions (like frustration, doubt and worthlessness). Keep a log if it will help. Once you are aware of your critical voice, you will be in a better position to stand up to it. Begin replacing those negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend that you believe in!” — Kenya Hunt, Class of 2019 Harvard MBA student
“Invest time in crafting your narrative and telling your story in a way that uniquely differentiates you (essays, resume, interviews, recommendations, etc.). Authentically share your life’s story and push yourself to go deep and take risks, as you show the multifaceted person that you are! Who are you, really? What drives you? When were there turning points in your life? Why are you so passionate? Where are you heading? At times, the application process may not feel the most humanizing, but it’s your job to communicate how your well-rounded perspective is the right fit for the program.Everyone has the insecurities of not getting in, but your admission essays should encompass who you are and not what you think b-schools want to hear. Let your closest friends and mentors read and give feedback on your application – ensuring it fully captures the real YOU behind the application. FYI: I was initially unsure about applying to HBS, but a close work mentor and proud HBS alum insisted I apply. My big lesson here: never self-select out and limit yourself from opportunities, have the courage to take the first step.” — Darrin Rahn, Class of 2019 MBA student at Harvard
“For me, the most important and time-consuming aspect of the MBA application process was understanding and articulating my personal “story” – who I am, what my life ambitions are, and how going to business school right now will help me achieve them. Your story is the central theme that ties your entire application together. Ideally, you want the various parts of your application (your essays, resume, interview answers, etc.) to come together to tell a coherent story of who you are. There’s one more benefit to investing the time up front to craft your story: It will probably teach you something about yourself. When I started my application, I didn’t have good answers to questions like “What are my long-term career ambitions?” and “What am I hoping to get out of business school?” The act of answering these questions not only strengthened my application, but also helped me to confirm that business school is the right next step for me (something you should probably know before committing the time and money to earn an MBA). I’ll use my answers as guiding principles to determine how I spend my time over the next two years.” — Mike Young, Class of 2019 MBA student at Harvard