Harvard MBA: The Complete Guide to Admissions

Harvard MBA Class Profile: GMAT Scores, Acceptance Rate, and GPA

Admissions StatisticClass of 2022 Numbers
GMAT Score Range620-790
Median GMAT Score730
Average GPA3.70
GRE Score RangeVerbal: 148–170
Quantitative: 145–170
Median GRE ScoreVerbal: 163
Quantitative: 163
Average Work Experience (Years)4.7
Women322 (44%)
U.S. Ethnic Minorities329 (45%)
International Students242 (33%)

Sources: Chart data from HBS website

Additional sources: Access MBA, US News, Beat the GMAT, Economist, Magoosh – What’s a Good GMAT Score?, LinkedIn, MBA Data Guru

Harvard University

How to Get Into Harvard Business School: Admission Requirements

GMAT Scores for Harvard: The Range

When you’re applying to business schools, shooting for a Harvard acceptance can feel like seeking the holy grail of MBA admissions. There are many factors that go into business school admissions. Getting your GMAT score to something nearthe average Harvard GMAT score may for some be difficult, but it is certainly possible. After all, the admissions office did accept more than 850 students to the class of 2022.

Editor’s note – The mean GMAT score is pretty much the same mean for all of the M7 schools.

Where does this leave you and your GMAT score? Take a look.

The average GMAT score for Harvard’s class of 2022 was 730.  Furtermore, the median GMAT score for Harvard’s incoming classes of 2020 and 2021 were also 730. Therefore, to get a good GMAT score for Harvard, you need to score a 730…right?

Not necessarily! Average scores can be misleading. Score ranges are more telling. Harvard Business School has historically admitted students with a huge range of scores. In the class of 2022, students scored between 620 and 790.

Shocked? Surprised? Excited? Remember that 50% of students admitted to Harvard Business School scored lower than the median score of 730. In fact, in previous years, students with scores below 620 have gotten in, though in both cases we saw, the occurrence was so exceptional that it was newsworthy.

Remember that the GMAT is only one part of your application. At Harvard and other top ranked programs, even an 800 score may not be enough, on its own, to get you a spot in the class. Likewise, those scoring noticeably below the class mean on the GMAT have demonstrated they are exceptional candidates and earned admission to the class in other ways.

  • Aiming for a 700 GMAT score is ambitious, but doable—this video outlines how you can reach it!  

If your scores are in the “questionable” or “shot-in-the-dark” ranges, I highly recommend you do some serious GMAT prep or consider the GRE as an alternative, a test that is now routinely accepted at HBS. Although statistics show there is still a slight bias in favor of GMAT applicants, if you can score much better on the GRE, that is without a doubt the way to go. Your extra laurels may be able to get your foot in the door, but why not make their decision easier by giving them higher scores that will show them your capability for high level academic work.

Application

Harvard’s MBA application process is made up of three stages. In the first stage, you submit your written application. If you impress with this, you’ll be invited to an interview. Lastly, you’ll complete a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of the interview. You can get more info on how to approach this with Magoosh’s complete guide to the Harvard MBA application.

Harvard Business School Essays

Writing essays requires a lot of introspection about what you stand for, why you want to get your MBA from Harvard, and what you want to do with it.

The admissions committee at Harvard looks for three key characteristics in applicants:

  1. A habit of leadership
  2. Analytical aptitude and appetite
  3. Engaged community citizenship

You will want to demonstrate throughout your application that you possess these qualities.  As well as introducing yourself and your achievements, you’ll also want to show a logical and well-researched career plan. Remember to be authentic and to focus on your story, rather than the story you think admissions officers want to hear.

Keep in mind that, across the spectrum of HBS applicants, a great deal of the cut-and-dry stuff will look similar: impressive GPAs at impressive undergraduate institutions, impressive GMAT scores, impressive recommendations, impressive work experience, etc. The folks working in adcom need something to give them a glimpse into the person behind the data. If you can balance unapologetic confidence with heartfelt compassion and sincere vulnerability, that is a combination that will open a great many doors.

Other Requirements

In addition to the long essays, your resume, your GPA, and your test scores, there are also short questions you’ll need to answer. You can think of these as short essay questions because a decent amount of time and energy should go into them. is not something you can come up with overnight. These shorter essays ask you about your post-MBA career plans, your employment, and extracurricular activities.

You’ll also need to choose recommenders who can favorably compare you to your peers and describe a piece of constructive feedback they’ve given you.

Harvard MBA Curriculum

Most MBAs will employ a similar core curriculum: subjects like marketing, business finance, and accounting, more specialized electives, and some exposure to entrepreneurship. What sets Harvard apart from the others is the caliber of its students and professors and the school’s approach to teaching business.

Harvard is not only one of the top MBAs in the world, but it is also the first MBA in the world. Harvard’s MBA is over 100 years old, and the school continues to be a pioneer in business education. The case method of teaching businessstarted at Harvard and is still a fundamental part of the HBS approach. The case method has the class analyze a case – an actual situation faced by a real company. The class then discusses different aspects of the company’s challenges and recommends how the company might best handle the matter.

Harvard Business School gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned through an experience-based curriculum.  The case method gives you a chance to put yourself into a business leader’s shoes. Just as in real life, the information in the case is often voluminous, nearly always complex, and the class must consider matters from many perspectives.  One prominent advantage of the case method is that different students from diverse backgrounds can give their points of view. It is often said that you learn as much or more from your peers in an MBA program as you do from your professors. The case method encourages everyone to give their view.

Is an MBA from Harvard worth it?

Graduating with a Harvard MBA gives you access to 150 alumni career programs and an alumni network that includes Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Warner Brothers CEO Ann  Sarnoff, and Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg.  If that weren’t enough, a fair share of senators, ministers and even a US president, (George W. Bush), also graduated from HBS.

Harvard MBA Employment Outcomes

A look at Harvard’s 2021 employment data shows the median base salary for graduates is $150, 000.  Over half of graduates get jobs in consulting or finance roles. The rest work in a diverse range of industries.  Eighty five per cent of the class gets jobs in the US.

But the return on investment of an MBA is not only about your first job. The career benefits will compound over your entire career.  Remember that having the experience, the friendships, and the transformational leadership lessons will also last a lifetime.

Set on Harvard but not the MBA per se? Here are some other Harvard programs that accept GMAT scores:

Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Harvard Graduate School of Education

And if you want to explore additional options along with Harvard, our Magoosh’s Top MBA Programs article is a great place to start!

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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Authors

  • Cara Skikne

    Cara is a communications specialist, admissions consultant, and one of those lunatics who genuinely loves the GMAT. Cara is the Senior Editor at Studyportals, a global study choice platform used by over 50 million students each year. Prior to working at Studyportals, Cara wrote for BusinessBecause, an MBA news site owned by the GMAC, and co-founded a company dedicated to admissions support for business school candidates from Africa. She has an MBA from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Journalism from Rhodes University. Reach out on LinkedIn if you’d like to get in touch!

  • Thomas J. Miller

    Few people are as familiar with the ins and outs of the GMAT's sections as is Tom Miller. Since 1995, when the exam was pencil and paper only, Tom has designed, taught, and edited programs for several international test prep companies and MBA programs to address each change in the exam’s content and format. His students have gone on to graduate from many of the world’s top MBA programs.   Tom has authored an acclaimed GMAT grammar crash course, “Verbal Boot Camp”, and has a long track record of helping the “math-phobic” successfully get their scores up to the level required to succeed in business school. He has also helped many students get the superior scores required for scholarships and admission to the world’s top MBA programs.   Tom’s business school experience goes beyond the particulars of the GMAT. He has taught Economics and Statistics as an Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor at the Butler University MBA program and taught Business Business Law at Stenden University in Qatar, where he was the faculty Senior Lecturer.   Tom has won numerous awards for his publications on leadership, core values, and peak performance in “Proceedings” of the US Naval Institute and is the first enlisted man to win the Navy League of the United States’ Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.   Tom holds degrees in English, German, and Art History from Indiana University, and a law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of law. You can connect with him on LinkedIn for further information.

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