Harvard MBA essay analysis and tips for 2024 intake



Harvard MBA applicants are some of the most competitive in the world. In addition to a high GPA and impressive work experience, applicants must also submit one essay as part of their application. Through your essay, you have the opportunity to show who you are beyond your test scores and grades.

The admissions committee wants to see what makes you tick, what motivates you, what challenges you have overcome, and how you have been a proven leader in your professional and personal life.

Essays are also an important way to demonstrate your writing ability and communication skills- two essential qualities for success in business school and in your career. So take the time to craft a well-written, thoughtful essay that tells the admissions committee who you are and why you deserve a spot in the Harvard MBA program.

HBS MBA essay tips and analysis

In this article, we have outlined a few guidelines that you should keep in mind while writing your essay. By following these guidelines, you can maximize your chances of crafting an essay that will make a lasting impression on the Harvard admissions committee.

Harvard MBA application deadline 2024

For the 2023 HBS admissions, there are two rounds of intake. The Round 1 deadline is September 6, 2023, and the Round 2 deadline is January 3, 2024.

Please note that the application should be submitted online by 12 Noon Boston Time.

HBS MBA Application DeadlineRound 1Round 2
Application Deadline06-Sep-202303-Jan-2024
Admissions Board Decision06-Dec-202327-Mar-2024

MBA essay prompt for 2024 intake

Same topic, different word limit

The MBA essay topic is the same as it was for the 2023 admissions.

There is just one topic which is:

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?

There is limit of 900 words mentioned by Harvard Business School admissions committee.

According to Chad Losee, Director of admissions, 

  • The prompt will remain the same as in previous years: “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?”
  • We are, however, adding a 900-word limit to the essay. Why you might ask? Well, we have heard from some applicants that, without a word limit, sometimes questions (and stress) arise about the “right” word length. We hope that including a limit provides applicants with a little more direction and eliminates the stress about how much is too much to write.
  • Do you need to submit 900 words? No, certainly not. Successful applicants may share what they wish to in 500 or 700 words, for example, or go up to 900.

What is Harvard MBA admissions committee looking for in the essay?

Every year Harvard Business School receives around 10,000 applications and it’s safe to assume, that almost all applicants will have impressive credentials – Resume, test scores, grades, and letters of recommendation. So, what is the Harvard MBA adcom looking for in this essay?

One word – Character

HBS is interested in character more so than credentials. The HBS Admissions Committee looks for enthusiastic, principled people who have the capacity to carry out the school’s purpose of developing leaders who have the potential to make a difference in the world. 

Character does not manifest itself in a resume, test scores, grades, or transcripts. The essay is your chance to show them what you’re made of and what drives you. Because the competition is fierce, this is where you can persuade them that you have what it takes to be a part of this incredible community.

Although this part is simple to understand, the actual process of doing this efficiently is far more difficult.

Things to keep in mind before writing the Harvard MBA essay?

Please keep in mind that your essay must be additive. The prompt’s keywords are “what more?” It should not be an extension of your resume. 

Here are 3 things to keep in mind:

  1. It shouldn’t be a series of broad generalizations and assertions that could apply to a lot of people. 
  2. It cannot be a collection of anecdotes with no meaning or significance attached to the events. It should include at least a portion of your unique story, the part you want Harvard MBA adcom to know. 
  3. It should demonstrate your motivations, values, and goals.

The answer to the Harvard MBA essay question is not something we can provide or explain in a single blog post because we need to know different aspects of your personal and professional life. It must be unique to each of you. For individual guidance please reach out to us at contactus@admitexpert.com 

However, we can definitely provide basic analysis and tips on the Harvard MBA essay topic for the 2023 intake. Continue reading to know more.

Harvard MBA essay analysis and 6 tips for 2024 intake

Let’s take a closer look at the HBS MBA essay prompt.

QUESTION: 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? (900 words)

Here are 6 Harvard MBA essay tips:

Choose your words carefully

The first thing you must do is go through other application materials (résumé, application form, and LORs) and discuss with your recommenders what examples they will discuss in their letters to avoid overlapping elements in your essay. However, you may continue to elaborate on the accomplishments mentioned in your résumé if they add value to your essay and help you elaborate on your story. 

It’s not a good idea to try to pack as many arbitrary stories about you into 900 words or less. Accept the “less is more” philosophy instead. You may focus on a single idea and provide data to support it, or you could craft a fascinating narrative that touches on information the committee wouldn’t otherwise know about you. Keep in mind that this is a “search for authenticity” rather than an “essay writing contest.”

Choose your stories based on what HBS admission committee is looking for

Please get a thorough understanding of what Harvard is looking for in candidates before choosing your stories (personal and professional), and then weave your stories/achievements around these traits. HBS seeks candidates with “a leadership habit, analytical aptitude and appetite, and engaged community leadership.” 

In other words – HBS is seeking individuals who are ambitious and extraordinary, with a leadership habit, a history of community involvement, and the appetite and knack for achievement that set them apart from those who are merely intelligent and diligent.

They look for a penchant for repeatedly exceeding targets in addition to an established professional track record and strong qualifications. They also want people who are motivated by a higher cause and have the potential to uphold the prestige of the institution. 

Your task with the essay is to combine this with an engrossing tale of who you are as a person. And if that seems intimidating, remember that you are the only person who has experienced your story, making you uniquely suited to share it.

To learn more about what HBS is looking for and how to make your application stand out, get in touch with us at contactus@admitexpert.com

Be genuine and authentic

Demonstrate your self-assurance and enthusiasm for what you have done and what you intend to do- academically, personally, socially, and professionally. Remember that you are an individual, so use this essay to demonstrate your individuality. Do not be afraid to admit to making a mistake or failing at some point in your life. Harvard is not looking for perfect people.

What’s more interesting to read: The life story of someone who had everything go according to plan or the tale of someone who overcame incredible obstacles and showed grit and fortitude to not just survive but also thrive?

Because of this, the more personal and open you can be about why you do what you do, the more memorable and appealing you will be. Because there are so few of them. Few people are completely honest, and even fewer are vulnerable during the storytelling process. Some of the best essays begin with a failure story and how it shaped them.

The important thing is that you have learned from your mistakes, overcome life challenges, and emerged as a more influential person.

Avoid fluff in your essay

Don’t, for instance, open your essay by saying, “I would like the admission committee to grasp what has pushed my personal and professional progress.” This will only take up valuable space. 

Furthermore, avoid concluding your essay with the phrase “I hope that via this essay you acquired an insight into my personal and professional life for better evaluation of my application.” 

Please keep in mind that the goal of this essay is to provide the admissions committee with details on your character traits and professional strengths. Therefore, such specific assertions are unnecessary and won’t improve your story in any way.

Use vivid remembrance to demonstrate your experiences and difficulties and how you overcame them and made you what you are today.

You can sort through your experience with the help of an admissions consultant to determine what to concentrate on. 

Do you want to impress the HBS Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

In general, it’s a good idea to start with experiences that helped create your ideals and outlook on life. You might discuss a difficulty or a time when you fell and got back up, for instance. Remember to SHOW them the impact rather than just telling them about it as you should emphasize how it changed you as a person and what you gained from the experience.

Draft and revise your Harvard MBA essay

Drafting adds to the depth of the Discovery process. You keep remembering more instances that can add value to your essay. Almost all of the candidates we have helped keep discovering their story as they tell it. With each draft, you gain a better understanding of your values and how you want to communicate them. That is why it is referred to as shaping your story

The first thing to understand about this stage is that there is no correct number of drafts. Each person requires a different number of iterations. Therefore, at Admit Expert we help you with multiple drafts to make sure you make your essay as perfect as possible.

So, if you plan to do this, give yourself plenty of time to revisit your draft and shape the essay as you go.

Get Feedback on your essay

Finding someone to read your drafts when writing the HBS MBA Essay is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You must understand how the story you are telling will be received by others.

This back-and-forth between you and a trusted reader is an excellent way to give your story more definition. If you go from one draft to the next without looking at the big picture i.e., emotionally connecting with the reader, you’ll end up with a story that might not reverberate with the HBS adcom.

So, if you want someone to give you honest feedback, get in touch with you and we’ll help you create a perfect HBS MBA essay draft.

Do you want to impress the HBS Adcom?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

HBS MBA essay FAQs

What is the essay prompt for the 2024 admissions?

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?

Is there a word limit to the Harvard MBA essay 2024?

Yes, Harvard MBA adcom has added a 900-word limit to the essay

What’s the most important aspect that the Harvard MBA adcom is looking for in this essay?

Character is the most important aspect that they want to know. They want to know something that is not conveyed through your resume, transcripts, GMAT score, or letters of recommendation.

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