Harvard MBA Requirements

Harvard MBA Requirements: Everything You Need to Know

Harvard Business School provides a comprehensive two-year, full-time MBA program featuring a practical general management curriculum. This program is meticulously crafted to equip students for leadership positions across diverse industries and functions.

Prospective candidates for the HBS MBA program must hold a four-year undergraduate degree or equivalent and present GMAT or GRE test scores.

English language test results are also required for those who completed their undergraduate studies in a non-English program. Additionally, applicants are expected to submit a detailed written application.

Upon successful completion of the program, the conferral of the Master in Business Administration degree signifies that the candidate has showcased the necessary knowledge, skills, integrity, and comprehension essential for sustained leadership.

The HBS MBA program is rigorous and requires students to complete a required curriculum in their first year, followed by electives in their second year.

The required Curriculum in the first year includes courses such as Data Science for Managers, Financial Reporting and Control, and Leadership and Organizational Behavior.

The program’s second year allows students to choose from various electives, including entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, and more courses.

The HBS MBA program provides students various career resources, including career coaching, job postings, and networking events. Graduates of the program pursue careers in various industries, including consulting, finance, technology, and more.

Admission Process

The admission process for the Harvard MBA program is highly competitive and rigorous. Prospective applicants must have a four-year undergraduate degree or equivalent, GMAT or GRE test results, and English language test results if they attend a non-English undergraduate program.

The application process is divided into two rounds. The Round 1 application deadline is typically in September, while the Round 2 application deadline is typically in January. Applicants are encouraged to apply early in Round 1 to increase their chances of acceptance.

To get into the Harvard MBA program, they look at how well you did in school, your leadership skills, and your personal qualities. The people in charge of admissions consider everything about you, like your grades, work experience, and what you do outside of school.

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Getting in is challenging because only a few people are accepted yearly. But, they want a mix of different backgrounds and experiences, so if you have unique perspectives or accomplishments, they want you to apply.

Key Requirements

Here are some of the most important things you need to know:


One of the most essential requirements for HBS admission is a strong score on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The average GMAT score for admitted students is around 730, while the average GRE score is about 163 (Verbal) and 162 (Quantitative).


While there is no minimum GPA requirement for HBS, the school does expect applicants to have a strong academic record. Most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Work Experience

HBS values applicants who have significant work experience. The average work experience for admitted students is around 4-5 years, although the school does not have a strict minimum requirement.


HBS requires applicants to submit several essays as part of the application process. These essays allow applicants to showcase their personality, leadership skills, and career goals. It is essential to spend time crafting thoughtful, well-written essays that demonstrate a clear understanding of HBS’s mission and values.

Email Communication

Applicants should also be aware that HBS communicates primarily via email throughout the application process. It is essential to check your email frequently and respond promptly to any requests or questions from the admissions team.

Harvard Business School (HBS) Values

Harvard Business School (HBS) is a prestigious institution that prides itself on its values of the habit of leadership, analytical aptitude, and engaged community citizenship. These values are engrained in the Curriculum, culture, and community of HBS.

Habit of Leadership

Harvard Business School (HBS) prioritizes the cultivation of individuals with the capacity to create positive change within their organizations and communities. The institution asserts that leadership is a trainable skill, achievable through consistent practice and thoughtful reflection.

Students at HBS are urged to assume leadership positions not only in their academic and professional endeavors but also in their extracurricular activities. This approach aims to foster the development of effective leaders who can contribute meaningfully to various aspects of their lives.

Analytical Aptitude

HBS is known for its rigorous analytical approach to problem-solving. The school believes that a strong foundation in analytical skills is essential for business success.

HBS students are challenged to think critically, analyze data, and make evidence-based decisions. The school also strongly emphasizes teaching students how to communicate their findings effectively.

Engaged Community Citizenship

HBS believes that business leaders are responsible for using their skills and resources to impact their communities positively.

The school encourages students to consider their decisions’ broader social and environmental implications. HBS also provides opportunities for students to engage in community service and social entrepreneurship.

Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum is the foundation of the Harvard MBA program. It is designed to give students a broad understanding of business principles and practices.

The Core Curriculum consists of courses in business, government, and the international economy, the entrepreneurial manager, financial reporting and control, field global immersion, leadership and organizational behavior, leadership and corporate accountability, technology and operations management, and strategy.

The Required Curriculum for the Class of 2025 includes the following courses, each worth 3 credits and graded on the Category I-IV scale unless otherwise noted:

  • Financial Reporting and Control
  • Technology and Operations Management
  • Business, Government, and the International Economy
  • The Entrepreneurial Manager
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • Field Global Immersion
  • Leadership and Corporate Accountability
  • Strategy

Apart from the required Curriculum, students are afforded the flexibility to choose from an exceptional variety of elective courses, enabling them to enrich the concepts instilled in the Core Curriculum. These elective offerings allow students to tailor their MBA journey to their interests and professional aspirations.

Throughout the Core Curriculum, students are challenged to think critically and tasked with analyzing complex business problems and devising innovative solutions.

Specialized Courses

Harvard Business School provides diverse specialized courses to cultivate MBA students’ expertise across various business domains. These courses are meticulously crafted to provide students with an in-depth comprehension of specific subjects, furnishing them with the requisite skills and knowledge to excel in their chosen professional arenas.

Among the highly sought-after specialized courses is finance, which offers students a thorough grasp of financial markets, financial instruments, and the intricacies of financial decision-making.

Participants in this course acquire the ability to scrutinize financial statements, assess investment prospects, and adeptly navigate risk. Additionally, the Curriculum encompasses vital topics such as capital budgeting, cost of capital, and corporate finance.

Another popular specialized course is marketing. This course teaches students how to create and implement effective marketing strategies.

Students learn about consumer behavior, market research, product development, pricing, and promotion. They also learn to analyze market trends and develop marketing plans that meet customers’ needs.

Accounting is another important specialized course. This course gives students a solid foundation in financial accounting, managerial accounting, and financial reporting. Students learn how to prepare financial statements, analyze financial data, and make informed decisions based on financial information.

Data Science for Managers is a course that equips students with the skills to lead analytics-powered organizations. Students learn how to use data to make informed business decisions, identify opportunities for innovation, and manage data-driven projects.

Entrepreneurship is another popular specialized course. This course teaches students to identify business opportunities, develop plans, and launch new ventures. Students learn about financing options, legal issues, and marketing strategies for new businesses.

In addition to these courses, Harvard Business School offers specialized courses in analytics, financial reporting, organizational behavior, technology, operations management, corporate accountability, and global immersion.

These courses are designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in various business settings.

International Students

Harvard Business School is happy to welcome students from all over the world. They like having diverse students, so they encourage people from different backgrounds to apply.

If you’re from another country, you need to have a degree from a college or university similar to a four-year degree in the United States. This also includes degrees from international programs that last for three years.

If you studied in a language other than English for your bachelor’s degree, you must show how well you can use English. You can do this by taking a test in English.

Harvard Business School accepts scores from tests like TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE. They have specific minimum scores you need to get: 100 for TOEFL, 7.0 for IELTS, and 68 for PTE.

International applicants are also required to submit GMAT or GRE test results. The school does not have a minimum required score, but the average GMAT score for the class of 2023 was 730, and the average GRE score was 163 Verbal and 161 Quantitative.

Harvard Business School has a diverse student body, with 38% of the class of 2024 comprised of international students. The students come from 160 international undergraduate institutions, representing various backgrounds and experiences.

The school offers resources and support for international students, including English language courses, cultural events, and career services. The school also has an International Student Association that helps students connect and navigate the challenges of studying abroad.

Skills and Knowledge

Harvard Business School’s MBA program is designed to impart a broad range of skills, knowledge, and techniques essential for business success. The rigorous program requires a strong foundation in quantitative analysis, critical thinking, and communication.

Students in the program are expected to develop a deep understanding of business fundamentals, including accounting, finance, marketing, operations, and strategy. They are also likely to develop the following skills:

  • Leadership: Guiding and inspiring others while navigating tough choices with confidence.
  • Collaboration: The ability to work effectively with others in a team environment.
  • Communication: Clearly expressing ideas with conviction, verbally and in writing, to engage and persuade.
  • Analytical thinking: Skillfully dissecting intricate problems and crafting practical solutions.
  • Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas.

In addition to these skills, students are expected to develop a strong knowledge base in a variety of areas, including:

  • Economics: The study of how individuals, businesses, and governments make decisions in a world of scarce resources.
  • Statistics: The study of how to collect, analyze, and interpret data.
  • Ethics: The study of moral principles and values that guide behavior.
  • Globalization: The study of how businesses operate in a global economy.
  • Entrepreneurship: The study of how to start and grow a successful business.

Case Method and Consulting

One of the unique features of the Harvard MBA program is the case method of learning. The case method is an immersive learning experience that prepares students to become effective decision-makers in real-world business situations.

The case method involves analyzing real-life business cases, discussing them in class, and developing solutions to the problems presented in the cases.

The case method is beneficial for students interested in consulting. Consulting firms value candidates who can think critically and solve complex problems.

The case method allows students to develop and apply these skills to real-life business problems. Many consulting firms use the case method in their training programs.

Harvard MBA students interested in consulting can utilize the school’s extensive alumni network and industry contacts. The school hosts regular networking events and career fairs, allowing students to connect with consulting firms and other potential employers.

ETS and Test Scores

Applicants to Harvard Business School must provide their GMAT or GRE and English language test results if they attended a non-English undergraduate program.

The minimum GMAT or GRE score required to apply is not specified, but the range of scores for accepted students typically falls between 620-790 for the GMAT and 145-170 for the GRE.

The HBS GMAT code is HRLX892, and the HBS GRE code is 4064. Test scores must be taken within five years of the application deadline. The latest date test scores will be accepted is the round 3 deadline for the application year.

In addition to the GMAT or GRE, applicants must submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores if their undergraduate degree was not taught in English. The minimum required scores for each test are as follows:

  • TOEFL: 109 (internet-based test), 600 (paper-based test)
  • IELTS: 7.5
  • PTE: 75

Applicants who have successfully finished a degree program conducted entirely in English can seek an exemption from the English language test prerequisite. Requests for waivers should be presented in written form and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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