Harvard Business School Wants More Undergrad Applicants

For a while we have been telling applicants that the earlier in the careers they apply to Harvard Business School, the better. While the mean number of years of work experience for students entering top business schools is still around five, Harvard has made a point of encouraging applicants to apply with fewer than three years of experience. In fact, nearly half of the Class of 2011‘s 937 students has no more than three years of full-time work experience.

As if being an “old” applicant (i.e., someone with five or more years of work experience) doesn’t seem tough enough these days, now comes word that HBS is encouraging college seniors to apply in Round 3. As Dee Leopold wrote on the HBS Admissions Blog last week:

If you are a college senior who wants to go to HBS – but not right away – then applying in Round 3 could be a smart choice.


  1. The positive outcome is going to be “deferred admission” — a guaranteed spot in the class of 2014 with the stipulation that you work for two years before matriculation.
  2. No target or cap on the number of deferred admit spots we will offer. Last year 43 college seniors were offered deferred admission.
  3. No downside: If you aren’t admitted, apply again in a couple of years — lots of denied college seniors are successful in the future.
  4. The application fee is only $100.
  5. GMAT/GRE scores are good for 5 years – why not take the test in college while you are still in test-taking mode?

Applying to HBS or any other top MBA program in Round 3 can be daunting enough on its own, but this doesn’t help. However, this is great news if you’re a college senior who missed the boat on the HBS 2+2 Program before your senior year.

If you are still in college or are a fresh-out-of-college applicant, this is one more reason to think about applying to Harvard Business School sooner rather than later, provided that you’re truly ready. This means that you have a competitive GMAT score, already have some recommendation writers lined up, and have some good experiences to draw upon to demonstrate your leadership abilities and your maturity. If you already have these things in your profile, or are at least close, then Harvard’s signal is clear: They would rather that you apply now, rather than a few years from now.

For more advice crafting a successful HBS application, take a look at Veritas Prep’s HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available here. For more updates on HBS and other top business schools, subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!


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