How can anyone ensure that they will be accepted to Harvard Business School? Unfortunately there are no assurances at the number one ranked business school which has an acceptance rate of 12%. This analysis will show you what factors impact Harvard Business school acceptance rate, such as GMAT and GPA.
Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GMAT
Similar to all other business schools, Harvard does care about your GMAT score. As you can see in the graph below, a higher GMAT results in a better chance of admission. If you want a double digit chance of admission you had better score a 740 or higher. Even at 800 the HBS acceptance rate is surprisingly only predicted to be 16%.
Harvard Business School Acceptance Rate by GPA
Next we look at how GPA affects Harvard Business School acceptance rate. Obviously a higher GPA results in a better chance of admission at HBS. Acceptance rate doesn’t break into the double digits until you hit 3.7. This reminds me of why I didn’t even bother applying to Harvard with my 3.33 GPA. Damn you engineering, why did you ruin my grades?
Harvard Business School Acceptance: GMAT vs. GPA
The real question is which is more important for raising your chance of admission to HBS, GPA or GMAT? In the graph below I compare how much the admissions rate changes if I alter the GMAT or GPA by one standard deviation. A standard deviation is a measure of variance in a population or sample. Since I can’t compare the absolute variance because GMAT and GPA are on different scales, I compare how the shift of one standard deviation impacts the Harvard MBA acceptance rate.
Unlike at Stern and Wharton, Harvard values GPA over GMAT. Harvard acceptance rate increases by 30% when GPA increases by one standard deviation but only by 25% when GMAT increases by a standard deviation. This indicates that GPA is more important than GMAT at HBS, and they are willing to roll the dice on a candidate with low GMAT like the guy who was accepted last year with a 550.
Other HBS Acceptance Rate Insights
The round you apply in does have an impact on your chance of being accepted at HBS. Applying in a later round significantly reduces your chance of admission at Harvard. The data for round 3 is not statistically significant due to low sample size, but I wouldn’t risk applying in round 3 unless you have a godly application. Perhaps after this recruiting year is over I’ll have enough data to confirm and update the model.
If you want to maximize your chances of getting into Harvard, then be sure to apply during round 1. Additional work experience does increase your odds of getting into Harvard by a small amount, roughly .5% per year. I’m sure a lot of peoples’ next question is what about the 2+2 program? I do know about the 2+2 program Harvard has but I can’t tell which candidates are applying through the 2+2 program vs. not. However I can tell you that of the 59 people in my sample who are 24 years old or younger , none were admitted. So although it is possible to get in if you are younger, it certainly is more challenging.
Next I’ll mention a few factors that are out of your control in the short term but should be known so you can plan accordingly. Similar to Wharton, applicants who are applying from India have a lower chance of admissions, only 1.5% of applicants from India are accepted. Applicants who majored in finance also have a significantly lower chance of being admitted, only 2%. And finally applicants who have worked in venture capital or the military have a much higher admissions rate, 16% and 17% respectively.
Update: I took a quick look if I could predict acceptance rate accurately for people who were already selected for an interview. They only factors that had any predictive power were round, age and major. Average acceptance rate is 49%, with older candidates doing a little better about 7% higher acceptance rate for someone a year older than average. Round 2 applicants had a 37% acceptance rate, while round one had a 57% chance. And finally, applicants who majored in finance had a 16% chance of admittance. In the end, it is very difficult to predict admissions for candidates once they have been invited to interview, which suggests that to Harvard the interview actually matters.
Good luck with your Harvard applications!
For undergrads, check out the Harvard acceptance rate analysis at College Admit Me.