How to Get Into Harvard Business School

Whether you have already applied to HBS in Round 1 and are hoping for an interview invitation, or are getting ready to apply in Round 2, we thought this would be a good time to share some more in-depth advice about what HBS looks for in its applicants. Obviously, Harvard is highly selective and can afford to look for “perfect” candidates. In addition to the common metrics such as GPA and GMAT score, the school specifies a handful of qualities and traits that it seeks in an applicant.

There are three things that HBS looks for its its applicants. These may seem obvious, but they’re all extremely important in successfully applying to HBS:

  • A History of Leadership.As mentioned in the HBS Approach, the business school is highly focused on leadership. Professional leadership experience is the most common and transferable, but extracurricular, personal, and community leadership accomplishments and qualities are recognized as well.
  • High Potential for Intellectual Growth. This is the portion of the HBS admissions process that puts a candidate’s undergraduate performance (reputation of institution, major, course work, GPA, trends, and so on) and GMAT scores under a microscope, to ensure that the candidate can thrive in the demanding case method-based courses. While HBS does not state a preferred major or career path, it demands a comfort with and aptitude for quantitative, analytical, and communication skills.
  • A Record of Community Engagement. This element is as simple as it sounds: HBS is looking for people who have shown the ability to impact their communities and who will continue to do so both as a student and an alumnus. While this can be demonstrated in a host of settings and ways, paramount is a sincere commitment to helping others, viewed as an integral component of the responsibilities of leadership.

Showing all three of these attributes in your application won’t automatically earn you a spot at Harvard Business School, but NOT demonstrating these traits is a sure way not to gain admission. Think carefully about how persuasively you can demonstrate all of these attributes when you build your Harvard Business School candidacy.

If you want to learn more about Harvard, take a look at Veritas Prep’s HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter!


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