How to Get in to Harvard Business School (HBS)

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How to Get in to Harvard Business School (HBS)

Harvard Business School (HBS) stands as an epitome of excellence in business education. With its rigorous curriculum, distinguished faculty, and exceptional networking opportunities, it comes as no surprise that gaining admission to HBS is highly competitive. However, with careful planning and a strategic approach, you can increase your chances of being accepted into this prestigious institution. In this article, we will provide you with valuable insights and tips to navigate the MBA application process for HBS successfully.

1. Understand HBS’s Values and Culture:

Before embarking on your application journey, take the time to thoroughly research HBS’s mission, values, and culture. Understand what sets HBS apart from other business schools and how its unique environment aligns with your personal and professional goals. Familiarize yourself with the case method of teaching, as it forms the core of HBS’s pedagogy. Demonstrating a genuine understanding and appreciation of HBS’s values will greatly enhance your application.

2. Build a Strong Foundation:

Admission to HBS requires a solid academic background. As you prepare for your application, focus on achieving an outstanding undergraduate GPA and aim for a competitive GMAT or GRE score. HBS seeks candidates who possess strong quantitative, analytical, and leadership skills. Consider enrolling in courses or gaining professional experience that can help you strengthen these areas of expertise.

3. Craft an Exceptional Resume:

Your resume serves as an introduction to your professional accomplishments and experiences. Tailor your resume to highlight your key achievements, leadership roles, and quantifiable impact. Emphasize your progression, skills, and ability to handle challenges. Showcase a diverse range of experiences, including community involvement and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your leadership potential.

4. Write a Compelling Essay:

HBS places great emphasis on the essay portion of the application. Use this opportunity to tell your unique story, reflecting upon your past experiences, aspirations, and how an MBA from HBS will contribute to your growth. Clearly articulate your goals and how they align with HBS’s values. Be authentic, sincere, and demonstrate self-awareness in your essay. Seek feedback from mentors, friends, or professionals to refine your writing.

5. Secure Strong Recommendations:

Choose recommenders who can provide detailed insights into your professional abilities, personal qualities, and potential for success in the HBS MBA program. These individuals should have direct knowledge of your work and be able to speak convincingly about your strengths. Cultivate strong relationships with your recommenders, provide them with relevant information about your aspirations, and ensure they understand the qualities that HBS values.

6. Ace the Interview:

If you are selected for an interview, this is your chance to further demonstrate your fit with HBS. Prepare by reviewing your application thoroughly, researching HBS, and anticipating potential questions. Be confident, articulate, and show genuine enthusiasm for joining the HBS community. The interview provides an opportunity to convey your interpersonal skills, ability to contribute, and engage in collaborative discussions.

7. Leverage the Optional Essay:

HBS offers an optional essay, which allows you to address any extenuating circumstances or weaknesses in your application. If you have any such circumstances, take advantage of this opportunity to explain, be transparent, and show resilience. However, if you have a strong application, it may be better to focus on the core elements and leave the optional essay blank.

8. Highlight Your Unique Attributes:

Differentiate yourself by showcasing unique qualities, experiences, or perspectives that will enrich the HBS community. Share stories that illustrate your ability to think critically, adapt, and overcome challenges. HBS values diversity and seeks individuals who can contribute distinctively to the classroom and the broader community.


Securing admission to Harvard Business School is a highly competitive endeavor, but with careful preparation and a compelling application, it is within your reach. By understanding HBS’s values, building a strong foundation, crafting exceptional application materials, and showcasing your unique attributes, you can increase your chances of being accepted into this prestigious institution. Remember, the journey to HBS is not just about the destination, but also about personal growth, self-reflection, and pursuing your passion for business and leadership. Good luck!

Like some additional help on your MBA or EMBA applications? I’m a former Harvard interviewer + Harvard graduate and currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA Ivy. Contact me today for a FREE consultation and get into the school of your dreams!

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