Approaching The Harvard Business School Essay

A Harvard Business School graduation

Approaching The Harvard Business School Essay

Harvard Business School ranked number 4 in P&Q’s 2020-2021 Top Business Schools ranking.

HBS is consistently seen as one of the most prestigious B-schools in the world – and getting accepted into HBS is no easy feat, especially with an acceptance rate of 11%.

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered a few tips on how to approach the HBS MBA essay including insights into what HBS admissions officers are looking for in the ideal candidate.


The HBS MBA essay is open-ended, meaning that there is no word limit. The open-ended prompt is designed to give applicants a platform to tell their authentic story.

Here’s this year’s HBS MBA essay prompt:

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? (no word limit)

Just because there is no word limit, that doesn’t mean you should go overboard when writing your essay.

“Instead, focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping it in the ~1,000-word range,” Blackman writes. “Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words. If you find yourself on the upper end of that range, review and cut any unnecessary words.”


The goal of the essay is for admission officers to get a sense of who you are – outside of the rest of your application – and whether you’re a good fit for the culture at HBS. You’ll want to keep these ideas in mind when drafting your essay.

“First, evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments, and interests? Then, evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay,” Blackman writes.

To best understand the HBS culture and community, Blackman suggests checking out the incoming class profile at HBS. Then, do some thinking behind what your story is and what value you can bring to the community at HBS.

“Choose stories that show your management potential,” Blackman writes. “HBS has always focused on leadership and loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and future potential. Your goal is to demonstrate a success trajectory to indicate upper management potential. And, your path should show a passion for impact in both business and society.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q, P&Q

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