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Harvard Business School May Increase Class Size In 2021

Chad Losee, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School

Anticipating a significant increase in applications to its MBA program next year, Harvard Business School is actively exploring the possibility of increasing the size of its incoming class in the fall of 2021. Chad Losee, managing director of MBA Admissions and financial aid at HBS, says the school is discussing with the university the capacity of the school in light of the pandemic and the recession.

He made the disclosure during a virtual panel discussion at the CentreCourt MBA Festival (see video below) today (May 5). Asked by host Matt Symonds if HBS might increase the number of spots in what would be its Class of 2023, Losee said, “Those are discussions we are having right now. Those will take time to unfold. They require the university and a lot of there stakeholders but we are having those discussions.”

In a typical year, HBS enrolls an incoming class of about 930 MBA students, with ten sections of about 90 students each. Last year, 9,228 candidates applied for admission to Harvard’s MBA program. Some 1,058 applicants were admitted, and 938 ultimately enrolled. Last year, HBS accepted 11.5% of its applicant pool, receiving 9.8 applicants for each classroom seat.


Because the school has decided to offer a deferment to every MBA admit who asks for one this year, however, those deferrals would then be rolled into incoming classes over the next two years, taking up spaces that would otherwise have gone to applicants in the latest admissions cycles. The pandemic-induced recession, moreover, is expected to result in a larger volume of MBA applications than has been seen in recent years as young professionals get laid off or see their prospects for advancement in their current jobs diminish.

“There will be some spots taken by the deferrals that we give this year,” says Losee. “That is just simple math. We are doing our best to spread those out over the next couple of years. We are having these discussions starting with the school and the university on what the class size might be next year and in two years. So we are doing our best to balance the needs of incoming students and future people who will be applying.”

Losee cautioned future applicants not to focus on either the volume of applicants or who they are competing against for Harvard’s class seats. “It is very temping to focus on everyone else who is applying and there is some danger in that,” he said, noting that he once did the same as an applicant to Harvard Business School himself. “You might forgo opportunities that are actually yours. You will never be admitted if you don’t try.


“The other danger about worrying about who else is applying is that you will start to shape your application about who are aren’t as opposed to who you are,” he added. “I think the application process requires a lot of reflection and in some ways it is kickstarting your education. So if you are really focused on getting to know yourself, what your goals are and what you want to accomplish with a business school program, you would be much more successful in the application process.”

Losee also said he anticipates no changes to Harvard Business School’s application or required essay quesiton for the next admissions cycle.