Harvard Business School - Admissions & Profile

Table of Contents


Quick Facts

  • Applicants: 7,500-9,500
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Class Size: 850-950
  • Contact: hbs.edu

Given Harvard Business School's elite world-class reputation, it is not surprising that the competition to be among the approximately 850-950 students enrolled in the full-time MBA program is fierce. With approximately 7,500 to 9,500 applicants per year and acceptance rates hovering around 10-15%, Harvard Business School admits a select handful of students with exceptional leadership potential, professional accomplishment, and intellectual capability. Approximately 90% of admitted students decide to attend, making HBS' 90% yield virtually unparalleled among its peers.

Successful Applicant Profile

While there is no typical profile for a successful applicant, an analysis of student profiles and interviews of current students showed that the following characteristics tend to make successful applicants:

  • GMAT Score: 700+
  • Work Experience: 3-6 years
  • Undergraduate Education: Tier 1 University
  • Future Career Path: Finance (most popular graduating job), Consulting, or General Management

Back to Top

Reputation & Job Prospects

See the rankings page for the school's rank in various publications.

Throughout its august and storied history, Harvard Business School earned a reputation as the most prestigious business school in the world. Today, a resume with a Harvard MBA is virtually certain to be well received by recruiters in many different fields. Further, the school's alumni pool is among the largest, most successful, and best connected of any business school, making the all-important job search easier for students. HBS serves as an excellent fast-track to a career in general management, finance (especially investment banking and private equity), or consulting. For years, the median base salary of new HBS grads has been over $100,000.

Back to Top

Notable Faculty

The list of past and present faculty members contains many of the most well-established business academics in the world. The following individuals are among the many distinguished professors, lecturers, or instructors who served HBS:

  • Robert C. Merton - Taught finance and in 1997 won a Nobel Prize for his pivotal role in developing the Black-Scholes options pricing model. Merton is also known for his work on the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) and his role in hedge-fund Long-Term Capital Management.
  • Michael Porter - Taught strategy and developed Porter's Five Forces and Porter's Value Chain.
  • Theodore Levitt - Taught marketing and in 1960 published Marketing Myopia, which is perhaps the most popular business article of its kind ever written.

Back to Top

School History

In 1908, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration established its ground-breaking MBA program with a faculty of 15 and a student body of 33. Two years later, eight students received MBAs as part of the first Harvard Business School (HBS) graduating class. In 1920, Dean Donham introduced a pedagogical method that would revolutionize management education: the case study. Over the next 80 years, HBS' reliance on the case study and Socratic Method became hallmarks of the institution.

In 1922, another hallmark came with the publication of the first issue of the Harvard Business Review, a journal that is still considered among the foremost business publications. Over the years, Harvard Business Review published some of the most famous business articles ever written (e.g., Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt (1960)). During the mid 1920s, the school raised $5 million from New York Governor George F. Baker and moved to a new campus. In 1954, the school founded its Executive MBA program (under a different name). In the ensuing half-century, this program opened its doors to many of the world's most accomplished executives. In 1960, about fifty years after first opening its doors and about forty years after women gained the right to vote in the United States, Harvard Business School conferred an MBA upon a woman for the first time.

In 1993, after years of cutting-edge scholarship and world-class faculty research, HBS launched Harvard Business Publishing. In the ensuing years, Harvard Business Press--part of Harvard Business Publishing--released some of the most well-known business books. In 2006, after years of producing successful alumni and cementing its reputation as the most elite business school in the world, Harvard Business School completed a breathtaking $500 million capital campaign that netted $600 million. With this money, the school continued to reinvest in its campus (which is widely regarded as one of the nicest in the world) and faculty (who continue to publish leading research papers). In 2008, the school celebrated its 100th anniversary with a variety of festivities, activities, and lectures.

Source: Harvard Business School, Baker Library, Interviews

Back to Top


The list of individuals who received diplomas from HBS (both through the executive education and two-year MBA programs) is perhaps the most impressive of any business school in the world.

Business: Finance

  • Cohen, Sir Ronald - co-founded Apax Partners
  • Cruz, Zoe - served as co-president of Morgan Stanley
  • Dimon, Jamie - served as Chairman & CEO of JP Morgan Chase
  • Fisher, Richard - served as chairman of Morgan Stanley
  • Kohlberg, Jerome Jr. - co-founded Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co.
  • O'Neal, Stanley - served as CEO of Merrill Lynch
  • Perkins, Tom - co-founded Kleiner Perkins
  • Schwarzman, Stephen A. - co-founded and served as CEO of Blackstone Group
  • Thain, John - served as CEO of Merrill Lynch, served as CEO of the New York Stock Exchange
  • Wasserstein, Bruce - served as chairman and CEO of Lazard

Business: Other

  • Balsillie, Jim - served as chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM)
  • Bethune, Gordon - served as CEO of Continental Airlines
  • Carty, Donald J. - served as chairman and CEO of American Airlines
  • Cook, Scott - founded Intuit, Inc.
  • Decker, Susan - served as president of Yahoo
  • Haas, Walter A. Jr. - served as chairman and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Immelt, Jeffrey - served as chairman and CEO of General Electric
  • Kraft, Robert - served as chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group
  • McGowan, William G. - served as of MCI
  • Wagoner, Rick - served as chairman and CEO of General Motors
  • Whitman, Meg - served as president and CEO of eBay

Politicians: Federal Government

  • Bush, George W. - served as President of the United States of America
  • McNamara, Robert S. - served as Secretary of Defense
  • Paulson, Henry M. Jr. - served as Secretary of the Treasury
  • Brady, Nicholas F. - served as Secretary of the Treasury
  • Bremer, L. Paul - served as Head of Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority
  • Chao, Elaine - served as Secretary of Labor
  • Carlucci, Frank - served as Secretary of Defense
  • Mullen, Admiral Michael - served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Cox, Chris - served as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Politicians: State Government

  • Bloomberg, Michael - served as Mayor of New York City
  • Romney, Willard Mitt - served as Governor of Massachusetts
  • Lynch, John - served as Governor of New Hampshire
  • Orr, Robert - served as Governor of Indiana

Back to Top