STEM UNDERGRADUATE DEGREES NOW ACCOUNT FOR 41% OF THE CLASS
As is often the case, changes in the educational backgrounds of Harvard’s newest students also were largely inconsequential, though undergraduates with engineering and math backgrounds are definitely on the rise. The largest single chunk of MBA candidates majored in economics or business: 41%, exactly the same as last year. Some 21% majored in business or commerce, while 20% had studied economics in college. Students who majored in the arts and humanities (4%) and social sciences (13%) total 17%, down one percentage point from 18% last year.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors make up 41% of the Class of 2023, even with last year but up from 37% three years ago. Roughly 28% of the class majored in engineering, while 15% studied math or the physical sciences. The STEM bump is likely the result of 2+2 students who were admitted under HBS’ deferred enrollment program for younger applicants which typically accounts for about 100 enrolled students each year. The 2+2 program heavily favors STEM undergrads, with 57% of the latest admitted group having a STEM degree.
Harvard also disclosed that its newest class has undergraduate degrees from 137 domestic universities, up from 121, down, and 158 international universities, up from 111 a year ago. The disclosure of this data is meant to convey that the school is open to applicants from a wide variety of both public and private institutions, though HBS relies heavily on undisclosed feeder schools (see Who Gets Into Harvard & Stanford’s MBA Programs Might Surprise You).
CONSULTING BACKGROUNDS IN CLASS UP, WHILE TECH WORK EXPERIENCE IS DOWN
The pre-MBA industry backgrounds of this year’s students also saw small year-over-year changes. The most notable changes? Students with backgrounds in consulting moved up by two percentage points to represent 17% of the class, up from a year-earlier 15%, while those from non-profit backgrounds, including the government and educational sectors, also rose two percentage points to 8%, up from 6%.
The largest industry represented in the class remains finance, with 27% of the students, exactly the same as last year. Some 15% of the class had jobs in venture capital and private equity, down a percentage point from 16% a year earlier, and 12% from financial services, up from 11%.
Students with tech backgrounds account for 11% of this year’s entering cohort, a two-point drop fro 13% a year earlier. Also down were students with media, entertainment and travel work experience who represent only 2% of the class, down three percentage points from 5% last year.
Healthcare and biotech students represent 7% of the class, the same as last year; 9% come from the consumer products and e-commerce industry, while 11% had been in the energy and manufacturing industries. MBA students from the military account for 5% of this year’s entering class, same as last year.
THE CLASS OF 2023 MAY WELL BE THE DIVERSE EVER AT HBS
For the only the second time, HBS broke out more detailed breakdowns of the ethnicity and racial backgrounds of the class. The school is reporting race and ethnicity in two ways: according to federal reporting guidelines—which allows each student to be represented in only one racial / ethnic group—and what HBS is calling “multi-dimensional reporting”—to more inclusively share students’ multiple racial / ethnic identities.
The Class of 2023 may well be the most diverse ever. HBS said “white” students, by the federal reporting standards, represent 47% of the class, down from 53% last year. The more inclusive multidimensional accounting pushes up the percentage of whites to 59%, still below the 66% of last year.
Asian Americans compose 24% of the class by federal guidelines, up from 19% a year earlier. By including MBA candidates who are multi-racial, HBS reports this number at 26%, up two percentage points from last year. Meantime, black and African-American students account for 12% by federal standards, up a single percentage point, and 14% by multi-dimensional reporting, also up a point. Hispanics and LatinX represent 11% of the class, up from 9% last year on both metrics.
‘ADVANCING RACIAL EQUITY IS AN IMPORTANT PRIORITY FOR OUR TEAM AND THE SCHOOL’
“Advancing racial equity is an important priority for our team and the school overall,” says Losee. “Some of the things that we know we need to do at HBS are for HBS but we also recognize the broader role that HBS plays in the broader business school and corporate landscape. Making sure we have people from diverse backgrounds is really important not just for our community but for the business world. There has been a lot of effort over many years and an increasing focus on that in the last year or two since George Floyd’s murder.”
Losee says admissions is also focusing on “socioeconomic diversity We recently launched a need-based application fee waiver and we are now looking at our financial aid formula for family backgrounds in awarding scholarships.” Some 13% of this year’s incoming class, he adds, is a first generation college student.
DON'T MISS: MEET THE HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL CLASS OF 2022 or SNEAK PEEK: MEET MICHAEL DANTAS IN HARVARD'S MBA CLASS OF 2023