The school is promoting the program, which will begin this spring, as a way to attract undergraduates with backgrounds in the natural sciences or liberal arts who would not normally pursue a master’s in business administration.
“Our hope is to really broaden the base of undergraduates who consider a future career in business,” said Andrea L. Kimmel, who directs the program.
The “2+2” track, named for its schedule of spending two years in the workplace, followed by the two-year MBA curriculum, differs significantly from the experience afforded to most HBS students, who come to the program with more workplace experience.
Currently, HBS admits roughly 20 graduating seniors a year to its MBA program, and also requires two years in the workplace before matriculation. Kimmel said HBS plans to eventually admit 90 MBA students—10 percent of each class—through the 2+2 program.
William Wright-Swadel, director of the Office of Career Services, said a more diverse class might be difficult to achieve if students already interested in business apply.
“It’s going to be about whether they market it well and the kinds of students they actually admit over the first few years,” he said.
According to Sanford Kreisberg, an independent admissions consultant at HBSguru.com, the program’s true value for HBS will be ensuring that stellar students don’t opt for a JD instead.
“Strategically, it’s a good move on Harvard’s part,” Kreisberg said. “They’re just trying to locate talent early and stop stars from going to law school.”
The application deadline for the Class of 2009 is July 1, and HBS will notify applicants of admission decisions in September 2008.
Wright-Swadel expressed some reservations about the effect of the application schedule on undergraduates, who might feel pressured to make career decisions earlier.
“That’s an absolute mistake,” he said. “That’s not what the Business School is looking for.”
Kimmel said HBS scheduled the program application date so early in order to allow accepted students to take advantage of special training opportunities.
Students in the program will gain access to pre-matriculation summer programs on campus, career counseling, and opportunities for jobs with recruiting partners, such as Google, McKinsey & Co., and Teach For America, which has promised HBS to consider 2+2 admits for positions.
Kreisberg said the school has been courting Google for some time, and this program provides an chance to strengthen ties with the company.
“This is a brilliant way for Harvard to make an alliance with Google, something they’ve been dying to do,” he said.
—Staff writer Clifford M. Marks can be reached at email@example.com.
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