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Steps to get into Harvard MBA Business school (HBS) from India

Harvard Business School

What is an IVY League School?

For the uninitiated, the Ivy League is a group of 8 private research universities in the USA known for their rich tradition, academic excellence, highly selective admission processes, and prestigious global reputation. 


List of Ivy League MBA schools

S.NoSchool NameUniversityLocation2023-2024 Best Business Schools Ranking (as per US News)
1Harvard Business School (HBS)Harvard UniversityBoston, Massachusetts#5
2Columbia Business School (CBS)Columbia UniversityNew York City, New York#11
3Tuck School of Business (Tuck)Dartmouth CollegeHanover, New Hampshire#6
4Johnson College of Business (Johnson)Cornell UniversityIthaca, New York#15
5Yale School of Management (Yale)Yale UniversityNew Haven, Connecticut#8
6Wharton School of Business (Wharton)University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia#3
7Brown University School of Professional StudiesBrown UniversityProvidence, Rhode Island#13 (National Universities)
8Graduate School of Princeton University Princeton UniversityPrinceton, New Jersey#1 (National Universities)


What is an M7 Business School?

The M7 stands for Magnificent Seven. It’s a group of 7 elite business schools in the USA that acknowledge each other as peers and are globally renowned for their management programs. The M7 alumni can be typically seen holding high positions, such as CEOs of leading Fortune 500 companies. Established in 1908, HBS has retained its spot among the top ten global business schools ever since.

List of M7 Business Schools

S. NoBusiness SchoolUniversityLocationU.S. News Ranking (2023)
1Harvard Business School (HBS)Harvard UniversityBoston, Massachusetts5
2Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB)Stanford UniversityStanford, California6
3Chicago Booth School of Business (Booth)University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois1
4Wharton School of Business (Wharton)University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania3
5Kellogg School of Management (Kellog)Northwestern UniversityEvanston, Illinois2
6MIT Sloan School of Management (Sloan)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)Cambridge, Massachusetts4
7Columbia Business School (CBS)Columbia UniversityNew York, New York11

As you can see, there are three prestigious business schools that are part of both the M7 list as well as Ivy League schools. These are Harvard Business School (HBS), Columbia Business School (CBS), and Wharton School of Business.


Harvard Business School (HBS) Global Rankings 2023-2024

Harvard Business School (HBS) is consistently recognized as a titan in the world of business education. Its stellar reputation, rigorous curriculum, and impressive alumni network have cemented its position at the pinnacle of global MBA rankings. As aspiring business leaders from around the world seek to earn a coveted spot within its hallowed halls, HBS’s global rankings serve as a testament to its unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and leadership in business education.

SourceRankings for 2023-2024
The Economist#1
Financial Times#3
Bloomberg Businessweek#3
US News#5


Types of Harvard MBA Programs

While the full-time MBA program is what most people traditionally associate with HBS, they offer several pathways and joint programs that cater to diverse professional needs and interests. Here’s a breakdown:

2-year Full-Time MBA Program 

This is a two-year, full-time program that emphasizes case-method teaching. The program consists of a fixed first-year curriculum followed by a flexible second-year curriculum.

2+2 Program Deferred MBA Program

This is a deferred admission process for current students, either in college or full-time master’s degree programs. Successful candidates work for two years (hence the “2+2” name) before entering the HBS MBA program.

HBS Online MBA

Formerly known as “HBX,” HBS Online offers online courses on subjects such as business analytics, economics for managers, and financial accounting. These are not equivalent to an MBA but are valuable for business fundamentals.


Other Types of HBS MBA Programs You Should Know About

Doctoral Programs 

While not an MBA, HBS offers Doctoral Programs for those interested in academic research. These are designed to lead to careers in scholarly research and teaching.

Joint and Dual Degree Programs:

  • HBS offers several joint degree programs in collaboration with other schools at Harvard:
  • JD/MBA with Harvard Law School: A four-year program that leads to both a Juris Doctor (JD) and an MBA.
  • MD/MBA with Harvard Medical School: Typically a five-year program.
  • DMD/MBA with Harvard School of Dental Medicine: A five-year program.
  • MPP/MBA or MPA-ID/MBA with Harvard Kennedy School: A three-year program leading to a Master in Public Policy (MPP) or Master in Public Administration-International Development (MPA-ID) along with an MBA.

It’s important to note that while there are multiple pathways to engage with HBS, the full-time two-year MBA program is the flagship offering. If you’re considering a program at HBS, it’s essential to carefully research and understand the specific nuances, advantages, and requirements of each to determine which aligns best with your career goals and aspirations.


MBA Specializations at Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School (HBS) stands out for its emphasis on a general management approach in its MBA program. Unlike typical business schools, HBS doesn’t categorize its program into traditional “specializations” or “majors.” Instead, it builds a strong foundational curriculum in the first year and allows students the flexibility of an elective system in the second.

The 10 HBS MBA specialization options are-

Business, Government, and the International Economy

This specialization focuses on the interplay between multinational corporations, governments, and the global economy.

Entrepreneurial Management

This elective delves into the nuances of building and managing successful ventures.


This MBA elective covers topics ranging from corporate finance to investment strategies and financial markets.


This HBS MBA specialization offers insights into consumer behavior, brand management, and digital marketing strategies.

Negotiation, Organizations & Markets

It explores organizational behavior, negotiations, and market structures.


This teaches students to devise and implement business strategies to stay competitive.

Technology and Operations Management

It Focuses on the role of IT and operations in enhancing business efficiency.

Leadership and Organizational Behavior

This MBA specialization centers on leadership strategies, team dynamics, and organizational design.

General Management

It provides a holistic view of managing large corporations and organizations.

Health Care Initiative

It highlights the challenges and opportunities in the healthcare sector, including innovations and policy changes.

While HBS might not offer traditional specializations, its program structure ensures that students can customize their education according to their interests and career aspirations. Whether driven towards entrepreneurship or fintech, HBS’s eclectic courses provide the necessary specialized skills.


Which MBA specialization is best at Harvard?

This is a little subjective and would depend on your career goals and interests. HBS ensures its students receive a holistic business management perspective, offering immersive field courses, seminars, and independent projects for in-depth knowledge.

So, when contemplating Harvard MBA specialization, make sure it aligns with your career goals and interests. 


Harvard Business School Application Deadline

As an MBA applicant, being aware of critical dates is paramount. Just like other prestigious business schools, the HBS MBA application process follows a strict timeline, ensuring that prospective students are assessed thoroughly. On the other hand, the HBS online application portal is a streamlined system designed for both the full-time MBA program and the various online courses the institution offers. Make a note of these deadlines and ensure your application showcases your best self.

CourseMBA Application Deadline (To be submitted online by noon Boston time)
Round 1Round 2
 Application DateNotification DateApplication DateNotification Date
MBA ProgramSeptember 6, 2023December 6, 2023January 3, 2024March 27, 2024
MBA 2+2 RoundApril 25, 2024

Disclaimer: The dates have been retrieved from the official B-school website. Applicants are advised to check with the B-school via their website for the latest dates as they are subject to change.


Steps to Get Into Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School (HBS) is often dubbed as the pinnacle of MBA programs worldwide. The Harvard Business School acceptance rate hovers around 9-12 %, which means Harvard is very selective in its admission process and follows specific requirements to get into Harvard Business School.  Known for its rigorous curriculum, global alumni network, and transformative case method teaching, students worldwide make a beeline before the HBS admission office every year. 

The application process at HBS is not very different from the other US B-schools. First, you need to submit a written application that comprises your transcripts, GMAT and TOEFL scores, essays, letters of recommendation, resume, and the application fee. You may be invited for the interview in the next stage. After the interview, the HBS admission process has this unique post-interview reflection. The candidate has to submit the post-interview reflection within 24 hours of the interview. Apart from the usual process, the following points can help you understand how to get into Harvard Business School from India so that you can prepare accordingly.


1. Understand What HBS is Looking For

Harvard Business School doesn’t merely look for high GPAs or stellar GMAT scores. While academic excellence is a given, HBS seeks candidates with leadership potential, a habit of leadership, analytical aptitude, and an engaged community citizenship. 

Here are 3 key things HBS is looking for in MBA applicants.

1.1 Leadership Habits

The HBS is on a constant lookout for future leaders. Therefore, the admission council will try to find the leadership traits in you. So, ensure to highlight those academic or professional achievements that amply demonstrate your leadership skills.

1.2 Academic Performances

The case and field-based methods of HBS are extremely demanding and fast-paced. Therefore, the admission committee would like students with strong academic records. A good GMAT or TOEFL score can help you make the right impression. The average GMAT score for Harvard Business School ranges from 725 to 735.

1.3 Ethical Standards and Positive Attitude

HBS wants its students to maintain high ethical standards and cherish human values rather than coming across as cut-throat competitors eager to climb the corporate ladder. You should come across as one of those likable candidates who are always eager to share their experiences and learn from others. Simply put, you should have an aura of positivity around you.

Tip: Think beyond numbers. Reflect on your experiences where you demonstrated leadership, influenced a group, or made a significant impact.


2. Ace the GMAT/GRE

Though HBS reviews applications holistically, a strong GMAT or GRE score can significantly bolster your application. The average GMAT score of accepted students often hovers around the 730 mark. However, this doesn’t mean that sub-700 GMAT scorers can’t find a place in HBS. As long as other areas of your application shine out, you may still be able to grab a seat at HBS with a slightly lower GMAT score.

Tip: Take mock tests under real exam conditions. Identify and work on your weak areas consistently.

[READ: Overcoming Low GMAT Scores in MBA Admissions]


3. Craft a Compelling Essay

HBS requires applicants to submit an essay. This is your opportunity to present your story, aspirations, and what you can bring to the HBS community.

Tip: Be genuine. Instead of writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear, convey your true self, your journey, and your ambitions.

[READ: 20 MBA Essay Tips You Can’t Miss]


4. Gather Strong Recommendations

The HBS MBA application requires two letters of recommendation. It’s crucial that these letters provide insights into your character, leadership capabilities, and accomplishments.

Tip: Choose recommenders who know you well and can provide specific anecdotes about your achievements and personal qualities.

[READ:  9 Bullet Points for Securing Perfect Letter of Recommendation for MBA]


5. Nail the Interview

If you’re shortlisted, you’ll be invited for an interview by the admission committee (AdCom). HBS interviews are known for being thorough, with a deep dive into your experiences. These are fast-paced interviews and can be high-pressure for the candidates. However, it’s essential to keep your calm and sail through. 

Tip: Familiarize yourself with your application. Be ready to discuss any aspect of it, and practice articulating your experiences and learnings.

[READ: Acing Your MBA Admissions Interview: A Comprehensive Guide]


6. HBS Post-Interview Reflection

You may have had a rocking interview with AdCom. However, your work is still not over. After completing the Harvard Business School (HBS) MBA interview, candidates are required to submit a post-interview reflection within 24 hours. This reflection, typically 300-450 words, allows candidates to offer additional insights, clarify points from the interview, and showcase their introspection and commitment to the program. It’s crucial to approach this reflection with sincerity, ensuring clarity and a demonstration of the candidate’s value to the HBS community.


7. Build a Diverse Profile

HBS values diversity. Whether it’s your professional background, international exposure, or extracurriculars, showcasing varied experiences can make your application stand out.

Tip: Engage in activities you’re passionate about, not just what looks good on an application. Genuine commitment is easy to spot.


8. Stay Updated and Engaged

It’s advantageous to stay updated with any changes or events that HBS might host, like webinars, information sessions, or campus tours.

Tip: Engaging with current students or alumni can provide insights into the HBS culture and what the school values.


9. Apply Early but Only When Ready

While applying in the early rounds might demonstrate keenness, it’s crucial to ensure your application is the best representation of you.

Tip: If you feel that waiting for a later round will give you time to improve certain aspects of your application (like retaking the GMAT or refining your essay), it’s worth the wait.

Roadmap of HBS
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Harvard MBA Class Profile 2024

Particulars Details
Class Size 1015
GMAT Score (Median Total) 730
Average GPA 3.70
Average Work Experience (in years) 5
Percentage of International Students 38%
Percentage of Women 46%

Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Class of 2024 stands as a testament to the institution’s commitment to fostering diverse and high-achieving cohorts. Comprising a total of 1,015 ambitious students, this class showcases impressive academic and professional backgrounds. The median GMAT score of the students stands at a robust 730, reflecting the analytical prowess the institution values. With an average GPA of 3.70, it’s evident that the students have consistently demonstrated academic excellence throughout their previous educational pursuits.

Moreover, students entering HBS don’t just bring academic acumen; they come with an average work experience of five years, ensuring that classroom discussions are enriched with real-world insights and varied perspectives. Reflecting HBS’s global appeal and its commitment to creating an internationally diverse classroom, 38% of the class is composed of international students. Furthermore, with women making up 46% of the Class of 2024, HBS continues its drive towards gender parity and creating an inclusive academic environment. This class composition underscores HBS’s holistic approach to admissions, looking beyond just numbers and emphasizing diversity, experience, and potential.

How Much is the Harvard MBA Fees?

The Harvard Business School MBA fees can vary depending on the students’ marital status and the number of children they have during their stay on campus. The fees also vary for every academic session. Following is the average Harvard MBA fee structure annually for an unmarried student of the class of 2024.

Harvard MBA Fees

Program Tuition
MBA Program $74,910 per year
MS/MBA Program $86,145 per year

What is Harvard MBA Cost?

Now that you know the HBS MBA fees, let’s look at the annual cost of attendance at Harvard. The cost will vary greatly based on your marital status and the number of dependants living with you. Take a look at this suggested cost-breakup. 

Expense Category Single Married Married with Children
Tuition Fee $74,910 $74,910 $74,910
Student Health Fee (SHF) $1,408 $1,408 $1,408
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) $4,120 $4,120 $4,120
Health Coverage for Spouses/Dependents $0 $8,692 $13,310 – $15,634
Course & Program Materials $2,600 $2,600 $2,600
Housing (9 months) $16,200* $25,200** $31,500***
Food (9 months) $6,030 $8,010 $9,990 – $11,090
Transportation (9 months) $2,240 $3,900 $3,900
Other Living Expenses (9 months) $8,130 $10,500 $13,130 – $16,340
Total $115,638 $139,340 $154,868 – $161,502
Computer (Optional; not in the total budget) $1,500 $1,500 $1,500

Disclaimer: This is a simplified analysis. Real-world expenses might vary, especially depending on the region, personal preferences, and unexpected costs.

The total amount is comparatively high, although no one expects the Harvard MBA cost to be any cheaper. After all, it’s one of the most coveted universities in the world. However, the Harvard University MBA fees for Indian students are even harder on pockets as the Indian Rupee depreciated significantly against the US dollar. Therefore, the Harvard MBA cost for an Indian can be over Rs 90 lakhs for a single year. So, should you stop dreaming of a Harvard MBA program because of financial constraints? Not necessarily. Dig deeper to know about the Harvard Business School Scholarships.

Harvard Business School Scholarships & Financial Aid Programs

Understanding the path to gaining admission into Harvard Business School (HBS) with financial assistance can make the dream of studying at this esteemed institution a reality for many. The cost of an MBA, especially from a world-renowned institution like HBS, can be substantial. Therefore, it’s vital for aspirants to be aware of the diverse scholarships and financial aid options at their disposal, especially if they’re aiming for significant fee reductions. The Harvard Business School Scholarships are entirely need-based, and about 50% of the HBS students receive such scholarships. These scholarships can be in the range of $2,500 to $76,000 per year. Most of these Harvard Business School MBA scholarships are available for Indian students too.

For Indian students, in particular, there is a silver lining. Harvard has historically shown commitment towards diversity and international representation in its cohorts. These scholarships not only appreciate academic excellence but also recognize leadership potential, commitment to community service, and the drive to make a difference.

Harvard Business School (HBS) is deeply committed to alleviating the financial burden on its students. Here’s a breakdown of the financial aid available at HBS:


1. HBS Need-Based Scholarships:

Harvard Business School provides need-based scholarships to both domestic and international students. Unlike loans, these scholarships are gifts and, therefore, do not require repayment. Nearly half of the student population benefits from these scholarships, with the average aid amounting to about $42,000 annually. In a recent move in 2022, HBS has extended its generosity by committing to full tuition scholarships for students who have the utmost financial need. Moreover, there’s a dedicated effort to support students from middle-income backgrounds.

To ascertain a student’s financial need, HBS reviews multiple factors. These include:

  • Income from the last three years.
  • Current assets.
  • Background, taking into account socio-economic factors.
  • Undergraduate debt.

The school employs a standardized formula to calculate scholarship amounts. Students with higher past earnings might contribute more than those with a lower income. For those married or with children, a part of the spouse’s income and assets, as well as the increased living expenses, is considered.


2. Diverse Financial Aid Packages

Every student’s financial aid package at HBS is unique. It might comprise a blend of need-based scholarships and student MBA loans. 


3. Shared Investment Approach

Students are expected to contribute towards their MBA. This could be through personal savings or external funding avenues. Employer sponsorships and loans are categorized as external scholarships. Typically, students who benefit from such sponsorships or employer loans may not be eligible for HBS scholarships.


4. Complementary Fellowships

HBS’s financial aid team recommends looking into various funding sources. External scholarships, student loans, and Complementary Fellowships can be explored to supplement the need-based HBS Scholarship, ensuring the entire Cost of Attendance is covered. The fellowship options are listed in the table. 

Fellowship Name Details & Criteria

Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP) Fellowship

Aimed at MBA attendees who were part of the SVMP initiative, which emphasizes amplifying diversity in the realm of business studies.

RISE Fellowship

Initiating from 2021, it caters to up to ten MBA candidates, especially those dedicated to upliftment and support of diverse U.S. communities.

John C. Phelan (MBA 1990) Forward Fellowship

Designed for students hailing from economically modest backgrounds, who’ve shouldered substantial financial responsibilities.

George Leadership Fellowship

Exclusive for HBS candidates in their third year with the Harvard Kennedy School program, championing the cause of character and leadership growth.

Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship

Tailored for those showcasing exceptional leadership within the nonprofit sector.

Junior Achievement Fellowship

Focused on candidates who’ve been a part of Junior Achievement endeavors.

The Robert S. Kaplan (MBA 1983) Life Sciences Fellowship

Best suited for those with a profound engagement and dedication to life sciences.

John H. McArthur Canadian Fellowship

Dedicated to students who originate from any part of Canada.

The Black Family Fellowship

Supervised by the Center for Public Leadership, this fellowship offers financial aid and leadership grooming for 5-8 military students from the U.S. at Harvard Business School.

How to Apply for a Harvard MBA Scholarship?

You can apply for the need-based scholarship after being admitted to the MBA program. It is advised to apply for the Harvard Business School Scholarships as soon as your admission is confirmed. The financial aid office will ask for your income proof for the previous three years and other additional documents to decide on giving you the right scholarship. You may have to wait 3-4 weeks before hearing from the aid office about your scholarship status.


Becoming a Harvard MBA Graduate

Pursuing MBA from the HBS is not just about learning from the best to become the best. It’s a commitment to bringing meaningful changes to your workplace, society, and personality in general. It’s about being a part of the group capable of thinking for the larger cause and not being afraid to take the rightful stand when the situation demands. Remember, you can’t fail if you don’t try. But, one sincere try, and you might be the candidate Harvard is looking for.


FAQs related to Harvard MBA

1. Will I get preference if I submit both GMAT and GRE Scores?

HBS doesn’t prefer multiple test scores, so you won’t get any preference on submitting both GMAT and GRE scores. In such cases, HBS will consider only the score from your highest single test sitting.

2. Is full-time work experience mandatory?

The MBA Program at HBS is tailored for individuals with a background in full-time employment. It’s advised that candidates possess a minimum of two years of consistent work experience before joining. If you’re still in college, you should navigate the 2+2 application process, which, if successful, grants “deferred admission.” This means you’d secure a spot in a future class, contingent upon gaining the necessary full-time work experience. 

3. I have completed a number of internships with reputed companies during my undergraduate. Does that count as professional experience?

College internships and summer training can be extremely helpful in gaining a professional perspective. However, such training or internships will not be counted as a professional experience for the purpose of admission.

4. Will I have an advantage if I submit my application early on?

The evaluation process begins after the application deadline. So, don’t rush. Take your time and submit the application after thorough checking and making it foolproof.

5. I run a YouTube channel in an Indian regional language on financial literacy. Should I mention it in my application?

Not only should you mention it, but you should also highlight it appropriately in your resume. HBS loves applicants who demonstrate entrepreneurship and a will to work for the betterment of the community.

6. What was the Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate in the previous year?

Harvard Business School received 8,264 applications in the academic year 2021-2022. Out of this, 1015 students were enrolled in the Class of 2024. Thus, the Harvard Business School acceptance rate was 12.28% for the previous year. Typically, the school’s acceptance rate hovers around 9-12%.

7. Is there a GMAT/GRE waiver for Harvard?

No. HBS does not provide any GMAT or GRE waiver to MBA applicants. You will need to submit the scores of at least one of these exams. And the scores shouldn’t be more than 5-years old at the time of your application. However, HBS does allow you to submit the scores of online versions of the tests that do not have written AWA as part of the exams.   

8. What is the deadline for the MBA recommendation letters?

The recommendation letter deadlines are the same as the applicable MBA application deadline for the respective year. While the deadline is the same as the application deadline, it’s advisable to touch base with your recommenders well in advance, ensuring they have ample time to craft thoughtful, detailed recommendations. You should also spare some time for revisions in case you want. 

9. How should I choose and prepare my recommenders?

Opt for individuals who know you well, preferably in a professional setting, and can provide detailed insights into your abilities, achievements, and character. While there is no rule regarding who your recommenders can be, we recommend that at least one of your recommenders be your immediate senior in your current professional setting. 

Once you’ve identified them, sit with your recommenders to discuss your MBA aspirations, share your career trajectory, and highlight specific projects or achievements you’d like them to mention. This preparation helps in ensuring the recommendation letters are not only positive but also aligned with your overall application narrative.

10. What is the desired length of work experience required in HBS? 

While Harvard Business School values diverse experiences and does not mandate a fixed duration for work experience, most admitted students have several years of professional experience. The average tends to hover around 5 years. However, what HBS truly seeks is the quality and impact of your work rather than just the number of years. Demonstrating leadership potential, achievements, and the ability to contribute to the HBS community can make up for shorter durations of work experience. 


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