Scott Edinburgh
May 18, 2023

HBS Essay Advice and Application Deadlines: 2023-2024

Harvard Business School campus

Harvard Business School released details on the upcoming 2023-2024 business school application season, sharing the HBS application deadlines and the required essay for class of 2026 hopefuls.

The 2023-2024 Harvard Business School application deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: September 6, 2023
Round 2: January 3, 2024

Harvard Business School also announced that the GMAT Focus will NOT be accepted for this upcoming application cycle. Only 2+2 candidates will be able to submit the GMAT Focus.

As Personal MBA Coach predicted, HBS is minimizing changes this year and keeping the one and only HBS essay question the same. The 900-word limit will remain.

The HBS MBA essay is as follows:

“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?”

“How do I get into HBS” is one of the most common questions we hear from MBA applicants.

The HBS essay is arguably one of the most difficult to tackle, given its open-ended nature.

This application essay is an open invitation to show HBS what is truly interesting about your profile. This question allows you to focus and elaborate on what is important to you. Think about the HBS essay as your chance to let them “meet” the real you — the authentic person behind the resume and application questions.

As everyone is likely well aware, HBS educates and admits leaders. It goes without saying that whatever story or stories you choose should show your leadership and demonstrate how you have excelled across disciplines.

HBS students will emerge as leaders in the areas they are most passionate about. They will drive change. They are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs. They show courage. You want the admissions committee to see and understand how you personify these traits.

Personal MBA Coach advises applicants to watch this video on the HBS case method to re-enforce how critical leadership and diversity of thought is to HBS. Keep this in mind, along with Harvard’s other stated values of analytics and community, as you craft your HBS essay.

While we recommend that most applicants show their professional accomplishments, make sure to share enough anecdotally so that the admissions committee can learn more about you on a personal level.

Successful essays have included some sort of personal anecdote at a minimum and often a much more detailed personal story, which is often tied to a recurring theme throughout your essay.

Think about what makes you unique and why you made the choices that you did. The most accomplished individuals follow their passions, and these are usually shaped by particular experiences or personality traits. Consider what has had the greatest impact on your choices, who you are today, or who you want to be. This will likely give you some areas to expand upon. But do not just tell this story; as we have said in the past, try to help the reader live it.

Personal MBA Coach’s HBS Essay Guide – Key Takeaways:

Make your essay interesting to read. Each year the admissions team receives ~10,000 applications.

Differentiate yourself, particularly if you come from an overrepresented industry, such as consulting or banking, or an overrepresented demographic pool. HBS looks to select a well-rounded class, and it will be crucial to show how you will add unique value.

Consider this essay as a starting point for an interview conversation. HBS has very detailed interviews that are planned in advance for each applicant and will dive into at least one aspect of your application. Be ready to talk in great detail during the interview about anything you submit as part of your application.

Show rather than tell. Essays are much more impactful when they describe something about you, showing it in action instead of just stating the facts. Give the reader details about the situation. Add names to the players within your stories. Describe your setting and tell the reader how you felt. Find out how Personal MBA Coach helped one of our clients tell their story and get into Harvard Business School:

The HBS essay will be VERY different for everyone. Do not fall into the trap of trying to write an essay like one you have read in the past or like your friend is writing. There will be a wide range of successful essays this year, and proper execution will be the key rather than simply the content alone.

While HBS retained the 900-word limit in an effort to eliminate any stress about how much is too much to write, most essays that work will fall somewhere between 700-900 words. Consider quality over quantity. If you can write a solid 600-word essay that is powerful and moving, do not feel the need to lengthen it. We have helped many applicants write successful essays on the shorter side.

Are you looking for support with your Harvard Business School MBA applications? Find out how Personal MBA Coach can help with our Comprehensive MBA Packages.