Harvard Business School (HBS) is consistently ranked at the top of U.S. News' Best Business School rankings. So what does the school seek in candidates? Before you even begin tackling the applications, it's extremely important to understand what each MBA program values. HBS clearly states three things on their website that they look for in candidates: Habit of Leadership, Analytical Aptitude, and Engaged Community Citizenship. Let's go through each one in more detail.
Habit of leadership
Given HBS' mission, which is "we educate leaders who make a difference in the world," it is not surprising that exhibiting leadership is an important quality that those who are accepted to the school possess. Through your endeavors, both professional and extracurricular, HBS wants to see your potential to lead and demonstrate impact. This latter point is important; through the projects, activities, and initiatives that you have led, how have you impacted people and organizations? HBS, and every top-tier MBA program, will evaluate your past successes and use those experiences as an indicator of your potential to succeed as a leader in the future.
The cases that students read and discuss at HBS require analysis; therefore, HBS wants to make sure that candidates will be able to handle the rigor of the curriculum once they are admitted. HBS assesses a candidate's analytical and quantitative prowess in multiple ways – undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE score, and professional work experience. Recommenders can also emphasize an applicant's analytical and quantitative skills through their recommendation letters.
Engaged community citizenship
At HBS, students are constantly interacting with one another, the professors, and the broader community through case discussions in the classroom, study groups, and extracurricular activities. How will you contribute to the community at HBS? HBS will want to see evidence of your contributions to the community both in college and post-college. The Admissions Committee will want to gain an understanding of your interpersonal qualities and your ability to collaborate with others as well as your willingness to learn from and share your experiences with your peers.
With this knowledge, you will be in a better position to craft your HBS application so that your experiences and accomplishments will resonate with what the school values.
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.