It will soon be D-Day for Round 1 MBA candidates at Harvard Business School.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6th, exactly at noon EST, thousands of hopeful applicants will discover whether they have been invited to interview, put on a waitlist for further consideration, or rejected outright. The vast majority of candidates, of course, will fall into the latter category which the business school euphemistically terms “early release.”
Other than Harvard Business School’s D-Day for Round 2 candidates, more people will get dinged today in the MBA sweepstakes than any other day in the calendar at any other business school in the world. And while HBS declines to say whether its R1 apps are up or down, admission consultants who have helped to prepare a sizable portion of the candidates expect this round to be among the biggest and therefore most competitive ever at HBS.
THIS YEAR NOTIFICATIONS ARE GOING OUT FIVE DAYS LATER: IS IT DUE TO A BIG INCREASE IN APPS?
That’s because Harvard only has two application deadlines for its MBA program and last year the school missed the swell of applicants who turned up in latter and often extended rounds due to COVID at rival business schools. Stanford Graduate School of Business has already confirmed that apps were up in its first round. Perhaps one early sign from HBS that apps are up in Boston is that this year’s notification day is five days later than last year’s, giving admissions staff a bit more time to process the onslaught of candidates.
All this is further complicated by Harvard’s decision to allow more than 200 admitted candidates to defer their admission (see HBS Class Profile: Harvard Enrolls Smallest MBA Class In Decades). Many of them already occupy seats in the next incoming class. If HBS decides not to admit an extra section of 90 students next fall, that will make this admissions season at Harvard even tighter.
The announcement of R1 interview invitations came via a blog post by Chad Losee, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School. He noted that on Tuesday, candidates will be able to check their application status page and discover one of three outcomes:
Invite to interview – this is good news!
Further consideration – Also positive! This is a small group of strong applicants that we ask to wait with us until Round 2, at which point we will review your application again. More info on this process will be shared with you directly if you receive “further consideration” news.
Early release – unfortunately, we are not able to move you forward in the process. Our hope is by letting you know this news early on in the process you can move forward with other plans.
‘MY HEART IS POUNDING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!!!’
It is a moment of high anxiety for most candidates who have carefully crafted their career plans around an HBS admission. As one applicant put it on Reddit: “My heart is pounding just thinking about it!!!” Not taking any chances, another R1 candidate recently disclosed on Reddit that he had applied to a dozen programs in the first round: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Haas, Tuck, Yale, Fuqua, and Darden.
Last year, applications for a spot in Harvard’s MBA Class of 2020 rose less than a percent to 9,304 from 9,225 a year earlier. That’s significantly down by 10.1% from the 10,351 candidates who applied for admission to Harvard’s MBA program three years ago in 2016-2017. Due to a generous deferral policy, HBS enrolled a class of just 732 students, roughly 200 fewer MBA candidates than a more typical incoming class. Last year’s cohort totaled 938 students.
R1 applicants who receive an interview invite will not have to come to campus this year. All interviews by HBS will be done virtually. “You can expect the same fun, engaging conversation with a member of the Admissions Board,” writes Losee. “To everyone who has applied—we have been inspired by your stories as we read your applications. Thank you for your interest in HBS.”
Losee also announced that the new 2+2 application for deferred admissions was made available on Oct. 1. The deferred admission process for current students in their final year of study, either in college or full-time master’s degree programs. It is comprised of at least two years of professional work experience followed by two years in the MBA program at Harvard.