Thursday, November 15, 2007

Harvard Business School 2+2: Getting In

Two weeks ago, we talked about Harvard Business School's new fast-track program for college juniors, HBS 2+2. Since then, quite a few people have stopped by this website wanting to know more. This week, I'm going to take a look at the million dollar question:

Who will get in to HBS 2+2?

I'm an undergraduate at Harvard right now, and I've been watching HBS 2+2 pretty closely. I think I have some answers . However, before we get started on the Magical Mystery Tour of HBS 2+2 Admissions, I'd like to point out one very important fact: we don't actually know who will be admitted, because no one's been admitted yet. The very first round of applications isn't due until July; frankly, not even HBS knows who they're going to admit. So, before you get too nervous, remember: anything's possible. These are not definitive answers, because very few definitive answers exist.

That said, there are some pretty substantial clues.
(Hint: liberal arts majors, women, and geeks are in demand.)

But before we dive in, here's a rundown of what HBS 2+2 is all about:

1. Apply in July after your junior year of college.
2. Receive acceptance/rejection by September of senior year.
3. Team up with a career coach who will help you find a job that's allegedly right for you.
4. Attend HBS 2+2 Summer Program in the summer after college.
5. Work two years at your job, with another HBS 2+2 Summer Program between Year 1 and Year 2.
6. Matriculate at HBS after two years of work.

(Check out this graphic timeline on the HBS 2+2 website for more details.)

Two years of work, two years of school. 2+2. It's a pretty great deal, for the students and for HBS. But who will be lucky enough to get in?

Officially, HBS 2+2 is looking for liberal arts majors who are juniors in college—those "not on a business trajectory." Do Economics majors count as being "on a business trajectory," or not? At a prospective students event for Harvard Business School three weeks ago, an admissions officer answered this question by saying that "We consider Economics majors to be liberal arts majors"—therefore, Economics majors are fine. However, "business majors," which exist at some colleges, are not the 2+2 target audience. "They don't need our resources," according to the admissions officer.

Also, despite a Wall Street Journal article that implied the opposite, HBS 2+2 is not just for Harvard undergraduates. Far from it. Whatever HBS's other motivations are for 2+2, they're pretty serious about using 2+2 to "increase diversity" in the class of 2013 and beyond.

The Wall Street Journal article offered a final clue: stellar women candidates are very much in demand.

"By providing deferred admission, 2+2 will also help Harvard Business School attract more women applicants, says Carl Kester, deputy dean for academic affairs. The demographic is one that M.B.A. programs in general have historically struggled to recruit. 'Young women who are considering an M.B.A., but believe they need for five or six years of work experience before applying, are often faced with concerns about when they might start a family,' he says. 'By comparison, many professional-degree programs can be completed in less than five years.'"

So far, we have the following...
Official Characteristics of the Target HBS 2+2 Candidate
1. Junior in college.
2. Liberal arts major—not business major. Economics is okay.
3. "Not on a business trajectory"—could benefit the most from HBS's resources.
4. Women and other traditionally difficult-to-recruit candidates are valued.

Now, we get into more speculative territory. At the same prospective students event three weeks ago, the admissions officer said something interesting about leadership. Paraphrased:

"We're looking for the same qualities of leadership in 2+2 candidates that we look for in our regular admits. However, when most people think of the word "leader" they think of the person who's in charge of everything—in charge of a million clubs and publications. We're certainly looking for those people, but we're also looking for different kinds of leaders. You could be a thought leader, for instance—someone who's on the cutting edge. Or you could be a leader in terms of excelling at actualizing other people's ideas and making them happen."

Who are "thought leaders," and what does it mean to be one? It's hard to say, and I think that HBS probably operates on a policy of "we know it when we see it." However, I have one guess, substantiated by some of their targeted advertising:

They're going after geeks.

I haven't seen everything on the Internet, by any means, so this is a very biased observation. However, I did notice a few weeks ago that HBS 2+2 was advertising pretty heavily on BoingBoing—bastion of geekdom, palace of blogging. I've heard that BoingBoing is the third-most-read blog on the Internet, so advertising there seems like a logical step. But let's think about the audience there—certainly not your "traditional" business school candidates. We're talking computer science students, future founders of Internet startups, and yes, a lot of pretty regular people who just love weird things, antique ephemera, and free culture. (Of BoingBoing's readers, I'm definitely in the third category! No computer science superstar here.)

Let's take a look at some screenshots:

Banner ad on BoingBoing main page.

Sidebar banner ad I noticed next to my profile page. Incidentally, feel free to friend me over there!

Those look like big ads to me, and I think that demonstrates at least some level of targeting. However, if anyone has encountered these ads elsewhere on the Internet or in print, I'd love to hear about them.

Right now, HBS 2+2 is a big mystery; I think the number of people who come to this website looking for answers shows just how big that mystery really is. And if you read my last HBS 2+2 article, you'll know that I think this is a calculated move on the part of Harvard Business School—it's just hard to tell exactly what that calculation is. While I certainly don't intend this post to be the last word on HBS 2+2 admissions, let alone a true guide to "getting in," I thought it was worth laying out what we already know:

Liberal arts majors,
Students "not on a business trajectory,"
Women and members of other traditionally-hard-to-recruit groups,
"Thought leaders" and actualizing leaders
And quite possibly geeks
—in their junior year of college
constitute a good chunk of Harvard Business School's target audience for HBS 2+2.

So while we may not know exactly who Harvard Business School's 2+2 program will admit, we do know who they're hoping will apply. And I'd venture to say that that's better than nothing.

For more information on HBS 2+2, check out this coverage in the Harvard Crimson and this article in the Harvard Gazette.


technomaniac said...

I liked your post...I will be applying for preparing for GMAT...I do fall in that geek category, but dont have a stellar academic i dunno if i will make it...but I guess i will score well in GMAT..its pretty easy..specially maths section...

KarvinRulez!! said...

Hi ,

you seems really well in writing..
can u let me know ideal score for GMAT for hbs...
and any online free downloadble stuff for the same.

karvin mehta

KarvinRulez!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
x said...

Thanks for the post. There really isn't that much out there about 2+2 aside from the Harvard site. I googl'ed it and came to this.

It's an exciting program. I'm an international business major now, so it kind of sucks to hear that it's not business kids that this is targeting.

Honestly, you can do so much with a business undergrad and if they are looking to keep the 'talent' from going to law schools (as some of the articles say), then business undergrads are still fair game. I'm considering law school too or a Masters in Government or Public Policy. It says we don't need the resources as much because we are already on that path, but I'd argue that many business students would achieve more and stay more on a 'business' path if they had the resources of the program and the help finding the work experience that would lead them well into HBS.

I think it looks like a fantastic program and it is likely to attract a high caliber of undergrads looking to nail down some promising medium term plans (so maybe it'll attract some fairly risk adverse undergrads who are wanting to commit and move forward instead of go experience the world.. but that's cool for me). The summer programs in the cohort especially sound like an amazing bonding opportunity. In a world where your network is your net worth, that makes a huge difference for me in my selection of programs. I think it'd be so rad to be with up to 90 other people who you were going to be going to school with for those two years, but have exposure to each other for a total of four years going through the whole program. It sounds like it would breed some awesome friendships and future working relationships. Maybe even some companies?

I'm writing my GMAT earlier just so that I can apply to this.. *fingers crossed*

Keep up the good blogging. I hope to read more.


x said...


From what I've seen online, the average GMAT for HBS is 707 and the median is 720. But, no one knows what the scores will be for 2+2...

KarvinRulez!! said...

Hi xenia,

thank you so much.
I am also givnig my GMAT after some days from today..

Dunno if i vil get 700, but thts wat i have targeted.

Best of luck for HBS!


placement.elecbtech@iitr08 said...

karvin wats ur profile......

placement.elecbtech@iitr08 said...

i mean gpa,institute,GMAT etc.

KarvinRulez!! said...

Hi placement.elecbtech@iitr08,

From the look at your name , it seems you are in to placements.

However, i really donot wish to put it on this blog here.
Email me , if its of any help to you or me.

Thanks and regards,
Karvin Mehta

placement.elecbtech@iitr08 said...

no the name actually is not mine.i don knw how to chnage it..its not the case u thinkin..i also wanted to apply for hbs 2+2 so..

Kartik Sharma said...

hey i am the placementelec lemme knw of ur i knw wat kind of ppl are applying and if i really do hav a chance

NITRA said...

I was just wondering if anyone that applied could post if they get the interview. I'm thinking if they call they will call before August 1.

KEFS said...

I applied as well and would also like to know if anyone receives a request for an interview for the HBS 2+2 program.

Suchismita said...

I just received an email about an interview today. Did anyone else hear from them?

Diana Kimball said...

At last, news: interview invitations for HBS 2+2 went out today. You can track the news as it happened in this forum:

I'll be interviewing Monday, August 18th. Congratulations to all, and I wish everyone the best!

Suchismita said...

Thanks :). I am having trouble scheduling my interview. Did you have any trouble? Morever, I even received an email from them saying that they were having technical difficulties. ?!?!

Kartik Sharma said...

suchismita are u frm india??

Kartik Sharma said...

how are you going about the visa and ticketing things..

Suchismita said...

I am from India, but i am doing my undergrads from Cornell in Ithaca,NY.

Kartik Sharma said...

ohkk..nice to hear from you soon....i am having trouble to get visa within such a short span of time.......hav u booked your slot for interview.

Suchismita said...

Hey Kartik....yep i have...wednesday at 1PM.... good luck with your visa ...hopw things work out and then maybe i will see u here during interview week.

medusa said...

i also got invited for an interview and this blog post is great info. @ Kartik, I'm also an international student and I know how hard it can be to get a US visa in such a short span of time. I would say, go to the embassy and tell them your situation and see if it falls under some emergency category. also, HBS might be able to afford you some leniency.

Kartik Sharma said...

hez hi..thanx for ur post...were r u frm and r u done for visa an tickets..also wat r u doin for accommodation lemme knw..i am interviewing on 24th..wen r u..

Kartik Sharma said...

hez hi..thanx for ur post...were r u frm and r u done for visa an tickets..also wat r u doin for accommodation lemme knw..i am interviewing on 24th..wen r u..

Leo25 said...


I am a female candidate from India in my 3rd year of engineering. I am considering applying to HBS 2+2.
I dont have a stellar academic program and have good extra curricular activities. I believe i am a good fit with the thought leaders HBS seeks from the 2+2 program.

Can you please let me know about your interview, your experience in applying, your peers background etc?
Would be very grateful if you can shed some light on it.

Diana Kimball said...

Hi Leo25! I'd be happy to try to shed some light on the process; if you'd like, you can email me at diana (dot) kimball (at) gmail (dot) com. Hope that helps! -Diana

Leo25 said...

Hey Diana,

Many thanks for your quick reply. I had written to you and got a reply too..:) thank you so much!

Just a quick question here: Would you recommend taking a course for GMAT prep? I have strong quantitative background, verbal seems to be the only hitch for me.


Diana Kimball said...

Leo25—my pleasure! As for GMAT prep, I worked with Veritas Test Prep and had an amazing experience. However, part of the Veritas test prep program involves working through the official questions that the company behind GMAT releases in three books: the big orange book of previous GMAT questions, and two slimmer books with questions and strategies for the verbal and quantitative sections. If you'd like to focus on improving verbal, that would be a great book to start with. Hope this helps! -Diana

PuneetS said...


This is a great find. I am interested in applying to the 2+2 program and am looking for some information which is not readily available on the internet apart from the official HBS website. Any reviews from last year applicants , suggestions, comments are appreciated.


Thomas said...

hey puneet
i too am planning to apply for it. Can anyone tell me whether its necessary for an indian student to give TOEFL also?
waiting for a reply..

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PuneetS said...

Hey Thomas

THe official wording goes by "Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) taken 7/1/07, or later, if you are an international applicant attending a non-English-speaking undergraduate university".

If you don't go to a primarily english speaking university, I would take the TOEFL or IELTS. I know most of post secondary schools in India are english medium but I would still double check.

I hope this helps. If you were wondering I do not go to university in India so I would'nt know about it.

Check Princeton review people in India.


Megha said...

Hi.. Your blog is very informative.. I an doing my graduation in economics in Delhi Unversity, preparing for mt GRE.I begin my third and finalyr this july. Have a decent ECA and leadership experience. I am eligible to aaply right?Any clue wat are the GRE score requirements? (considering they have just started accepting GRE.)

Prerna said...


I'm pursuing Bachelors of Business Studies from Delhi University, India. I read your article and was just wondering if it makes sense for me to apply as i am from a business background, although i am a women candidate with an average record in academics and good leadership experience(i think i will qualify for the thought leadership they need ;).

Thanks in advance,

marion said...

First of all, tks for your really good informative article on the HBS 2+2.
I am a french female studying finance (all in french). I am really interesting by the 2+2 but as it is really different in France i had several quick questions:
- for a french student, to apply to the 2+2, do I have to take the GMAt or the TEOFL?
- it is not really clear on the official website: I am spécialized in Finance, and moreprécisely corporate finance, in this MBA, what is the major? What is finally the "plus" that we acquired by doing the cursus?
- They train people to work in what king of sector?
- Do you think it is harder for a foreign student to apply?

I hope to have quickly some news.
Thanks in advance.
You can write me at: