Harvard MBA

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Harvard Business School – Introduction


When people think about the MBA degree, the very first school that springs to mind is Harvard Business School (HBS). HBS is synonymous with the degree and literally sets the pace for the industry. As you might expect, the admissions standards at HBS are exceedingly high, with just 11% of applicants being admitted. That’s the second lowest acceptance rate after Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

For now, no changes in the admissions process are yet evident but former HBS admissions chief Dee Leopold liked to change things up every year or so. So it’s likely that after getting one admissions season under his belt, Losee would do the same. HBS currently requires just one essay without a word limit, asking applicants to inform the school of any additional information not already contained in the application itself. In a typical year, Harvard interviews slightly more than 1,600 applicants, admitting slightly under 1,073 candidates to get a class of about 930. If you get an interview, you have a 50% to 60% chance of gaining an invite.

Good Facts:

  • The average base salary for MBA graduates from HBS is $137,200 per year,
  • The average scholarship award at Harvard is $37,000, and the university paid out $34 million in MBA scholarships last year alone. Also, you can receive up to $30,000 from an outside scholarship before HBS starts to reduce your in house scholarships. Some students are able to get the total sticker price down to $100,000 or slightly less.
  • The name speaks for itself and will be a great addition to your CV.

Not so good facts:

  • Only 932 students out of 9315 were accepted at HBS, and you will need a GMAT score well over 740. While getting into this program is extremely difficult.
  • As one would expect with a top MBA from one of the best schools in the world, it is expensive to get a Harvard MBA. Total MBA cost at Harvard is estimated at $158,000. Annual tuition is approximately $72,000. This is a 13% increase from a few years ago. However it can easily cost more than that with cost of living and other added expenses.
  • Many students rave about the quality of the Harvard MBA but others say the program is very high pressure, intense and time intensive. It can lead to some students experiencing very high anxiety.
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US News ranking

Harvard MBA Sample Essays


Describe an internal conflict (or difficult decision) that you have faced. How did you resolve the situation? What did you learn from this? (500-word limit)

I grew up in a conservative and patriarchal society in a small town in North India. Like most parents in Indian society, my father didn’t want to spend money on my higher education; he instead planned to save for my brother’s higher education and my dowry. My mother had faced the same prejudice and was forced to get married at a young age of 19. Fearing similar consequences, I decided to speak up. I was punished to be a rebel, but I refused to give up. Seeing my passion to study, one of my teachers sponsored the fees for engineering entrance exam and guided me. With my determination and hard work, I passed the toughest engineering exam of India. This teenage experience instilled in me core values of courage, hard work, and determination and boosted my confidence to stand up for myself.

After graduating from XXXX, I joined the world’s leading oil-field service provider, YYYY. Though I was excited about designing oil wells on offshore rigs, I was yet to live the real challenges of this industry. I found myself surrounded by gigantic pumps, noisy cranes, and heavy iron oil rigs, in the company of 100 pair male oilfield workers who pried on my every move. I worked in remote locations and harsh environments, from anywhere in the middle of an ocean to the middle of a desert, where even basic hygiene and sanitary facilities were extremely hard to find. But I stayed determined and consistently delivered successful projects for my clients. These extreme challenges early in my career made me resilient and

When I moved to Indonesia, I was assigned to lead the workshop team of about 20. I was the only female expat in the team, and most of my team members were much older than me. They didn’t even accept me as a team member, let alone accept me as a leader. I started by learning their language and lunching with them in the Indonesian cafeteria rather than in the continental one. As I embraced their culture by joining them during the fasting month of ‘Ramadan’, I found them reciprocating with the same respect and acceptance. I then started doing daily workshop tasks a bit differently, showcasing better efficiency. Rather than instructing new methods, I led by example which motivated them to adopt these methods. Gradually, I improved team efficiency that enabled us to accomplish more challenging projects in lesser time. I learned
to develop strong interpersonal relations and be a collaborative leader.

My experience as a service provider motivated me to grow in the industry and join ‘ZZZZ’. Before the downturn hit us, I was leading contracting for 57 units, but in a span of six months, I had to reduce it to 19. The biggest challenge came when I was asked to cancel contracts for almost 40 people. This gave me many sleepless nights. Having failed to de-hire personnel, I was summoned by our CFO. I requested him to give me one month and promised him to deliver the same product in 20% lesser cost, thereby forgoing the need to lay-off. For the next one month, I worked tirelessly, took initiatives to save every penny, and closely monitored expenditure. Seeing my efforts, my team was motivated and supported me in my initiatives.

However, by month-end, I was still 10% short of my promised targets. Disheartened, I entered the CFO’s room with the actual numbers, and to my surprise, he still canceled the lay-offs. Impressed with my efforts, he recommended me for early promotion to ‘Lead Engineer’.

Though we successfully survived the downturn in the short term, I realized that it is imperative to hedge against diminishing oil demand in the long term. This realization deepened on my recent diving trip to Sumba Island, where I saw dead corals and almost no marine life due to an oil spill that happened 500 kms away eight years ago. The oil spill had affected the livelihood of thousands of seaweed farmers and fishermen. This experience strengthened my belief to harness energy in a clean, safe, and sustainable manner.

In the long term, I envision leading a global renewable energy company and drive the transformation from fossil to clean renewable energy. During my recent interaction with our Chief Strategy Officer, I was further encouraged especially on knowing his plans to diversify ZZZZ into renewable energy. He laid emphasis on HBS being the perfect catalyst for achieving my vision and transforming me into an impactful leader. My personal and professional experiences have built a strong foundation. Building on this foundation and my technical knowledge of the energy industry, I want to develop my business acumen, gain a strategic outlook, and be a transformational and impactful leader. Studying at HBS, with the smartest students from around the world and using the case method in conjunction with the FIELD method will make me practice critical decision making every single day and learn to adapt to different leadership styles in diverse situations.

With my passion to learn, my collaborative attitude, and unique professional experiences, I will add a different perspective to the case discussions at HBS. I am looking forward to two years of excitement, rigor, and passion!…Continue Reading Here

Harvard MBA Interviews


It was a very humbling atmosphere to be in at Harvard. I have lots of opportunity to chat with other interviewees and hear about what they’ve done. Everyone there was very accomplished in their own field, and it was amazing to be with a group of people that’s so diverse. It was hard for me to really feel competitive with any of them (granted I have a very specific and non-tradition industry background) because of how different everyone’s backgrounds were. Really at this point it seems more like an exercise in “how do we want the class structured” than “do they deserve a spot”.

The class visit was great, very engaging. Learned a bit about stock price valuation based on DCF versus Comparables methods. Afterwards a couple fellow Canadians (one from my undergrad university) came up and had a chat with me which was nice.

Prior to the interview, there were lots of people who were clearly anxcious sitting in a room with me. We chatted a bit in the 5mins leading up to the interview, but obviously it got a little tense.

The interview itself I felt went really well. My interviewer asked a lot of questions, and they were mainly directed at filling in details behind things only touched upon in my application. The type of stuff that doesn’t make it on to your 1 page resume in detail anymore because it was 5 years ago. I choose to believe (haha) that was because she was just trying to make my case stronger, and that my references and I had adequately described my last few years of work experience. Between questions the interviewer did watch the clock, felt as though that was mainly to make sure we kept to the 30min time limit because some of her questions went down the rabbit hole based on my previous answers.

When did you get in to Boston?
Did you attend a class?
Why did you choose X engineering?
Did you have any internships while completing your undergraduate degree? Tell me about them
Why did you choose to work for Company Y?
Questions about early rotations at Company Y and specific roles that weren’t written about much in my application
Tell me about your experience during the Natural Disaster Z
What were your recognition awards at Company Y for?
Tell me about your new/current role at Company A
What do you find most challenging about your current role?
Why did you get a dog?..Continue Reading Here

Harvard MBA Application Essay Tips

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