Deconstructing Harvard Business School’s Largest MBA Class Ever

Pre-MBA Industry Backgrounds: Class of 2023 vs. Class of 2022 at HBS

Class of 2023 at Harvard Business School has a few more consultants and non-profit types than previously

Class of 2022 at Harvard Business School has only slight differences in pre-MBA industry backgrounds than the newest class.

Tech is down. Consulting and non-profit types are up.

How come? Edinburgh of Personal MBA Coach has a reason for the shift that has nothing to do with HBS admission decisions. “The decrease in tech students is more so because of people choosing not to apply more than anything else,” he says. “Meaning if you have a fantastic job and can now work from home, perhaps you put off applying for a year. We are seeing a lot of applicants this year that delayed a year because of everything.”

Of course, the pre-MBA industry backgrounds of this year’s students, as is often the case, saw small year-over-year changes. Students with tech backgrounds account for 11% of this year’s entering cohort, down from 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.

On the other hand, 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%.

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.

Work Experience: Class of 2023 vs. Class of 2022 at HBS

Class of 2023 at Harvard Business School is a touch older than before with a bit more full-time work experience than before.

Class of 2022 at Harvard Business School a bit younger with less work experience than the latest entering class.

In any other year, a shift of four months in the average work experience of a student might seem pretty big. But the pandemic has changed all that. The 100 students in this year’s class who are deferrals from the previous year have tilted the average age and number of months of work experience toward the older side. The change does not reflect new thinking by Harvard Business School’s admissions team but rather a consequence of all those deferrals.

MBA Student Diversity: Class of 2023 vs. Class of 2022 at HBS

Class of 2023 at Harvard Business School may well be the most diverse ever.

Class of 2022 at Harvard Business School. This was the first year that HBS began reporting far more detailed numbers on the racial and ethnic diversity of an entering class.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, advancing racial equity at Harvard Business School has become a priority as it has at many business schools. Not surprisingly then, the Class of 2023 may well be the most diverse ever. HBS said “white” students, by federal reporting standards, represent 47% of the class, down from 53% last year. The more inclusive multidimensional accounting method used by HBS pushes up the percentage of whites to 59%, still below the 66% of last year.

The changes is intentional. “The reduced numbers of white kids seems significant and intentional (well the increased numbers of non-whites is intentional),” believes Sandy Kreisberg, founder of “I’d be interested in knowing gender break out –I think getting in at HBS as a white male is becoming increasingly challenging. “

This is only the second time that HBS is breaking out a more detailed look at 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.

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.


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