HBS Announces Major Changes to MBA Application for 2024-25

Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced significant changes to its MBA application for the 2024-2025 cycle. These updates, driven by the new Managing Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid, Rupal Gadhia, are the first substantial alterations in years and are designed to provide a clearer picture of each applicant's potential. Here’s what you need to know.

New Essay Requirements

The most notable change is the introduction of three specific short essays that applicants to the MBA Class of 2027 (matriculating fall 2025) need to respond to:

Business-Minded Essay

Please reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choices and aspirations and the impact you will have on the businesses, organizations, and communities you plan to serve. (up to 300 words)

Leadership-Focused Essay

What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what kind of leader you want to become? (up to 250 words)

Growth-Oriented Essay

Curiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. (up to 250 words)

Post-Interview Reflection

In addition to these essays, the post-interview reflection remains an essential part of the application process. Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection through the online application system. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to interview.

Why These Changes Matter

Getting to the Heart of Your Story

By introducing these three targeted essay prompts, HBS aims to gain deeper insights into each applicant's unique experiences and potential contributions. The previous open-ended prompt often resulted in broad and generic responses, whereas the new format encourages applicants to share specific stories and insights that highlight their distinct journeys.

What HBS Is Really Looking For

HBS has updated its evaluation criteria to focus on three key traits: business-mindedness, leadership, and growth orientation. Let’s break it down:


HBS is looking for applicants who are passionate about making a difference through business. This essay prompt encourages you to reflect on how your past experiences have shaped your career aspirations and the impact you aim to have on businesses, organizations, and communities.


HBS values leadership in all its forms, whether you’re leading a team, spearheading a project, or inspiring change from behind the scenes. This essay prompt allows you to share the experiences that have shaped your leadership style and how you invest in others.


Curiosity and a willingness to learn are essential traits for personal and professional growth. This essay prompt asks you to provide an example of how you've demonstrated curiosity and how it has influenced your development.

Rupal Gadhia's Vision for HBS

Rupal Gadhia, the new Managing Director, has already made her mark by introducing these significant changes. Her vision emphasizes a more structured and reflective application process, ensuring that those who join HBS are not just academically excellent but also aligned with the school’s mission to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. This approach underscores the importance of personal growth and leadership potential in the admissions process.

How to Tackle the New Essays

Be Specific

Use concrete examples from your experiences. Instead of saying you’re a leader, show it through a story where you led a project or initiative.


Think about the challenges you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from them. This will demonstrate your growth mindset.

Connect the Dots

Clearly articulate how the HBS MBA will help you achieve your career goals. This shows foresight and planning.

Application Fee Waiver

Good news: HBS continues to offer a need-based application fee waiver. Make sure to submit your request form at least two weeks before the application deadlines to be considered.

Get Involved with HBS

HBS encourages you to participate in upcoming events to get a better feel for the community and the application process. Remember, the key to a successful application is authenticity—be yourself and let your true potential shine through.

June 26, 2024

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