HBS Puts Money Behind Life Sciences

Ten first-year Business School students to receive $20K for excellence in sciences

Harvard Business School will award 10 merit-based scholarships of $20,000 each beginning next fall to MBA students who show exceptional talent in the life sciences, the school announced in January.

The recent measure comes at a time when Harvard has focused on expanding its efforts in biological sciences, including beginning construction on a 589,000-square-foot complex for research and education in Allston.

The awards will be granted only to first-year students and will not affect their eligibility for need-based Fellowships, according to the school’s Web site.

Deirdre C. Leopold, a Business School staffer responsible for admissions and financial aid, said it was exciting for her to talk to applicants about “the synergy between science and business.”

By showing students with science backgrounds how their disciplines connected to the corporate world, Leopold said, she hopes “to show them business in a way that they have never thought of before.”

Discussions about the new initiative began about a year ago through the collaboration of the Business School dean, faculty, and admissions office, Leopold said. She added that unmarked fellowship funds would pay for the new grants.

The life science fellowships represent a “welcome wagon” to students in the sciences, said Sanford Kreisberg, who runs an independent consulting service for business school admissions.

He said he believed that the fellowships would attract older students by targeting applicants with medical or pharmaceutical experience, and that focusing on life sciences was a good choice for the Business School because of its comparative advantage in the field.

”In the battle with Stanford for who can be hipper, life sciences is one of the few advantages that the Northeast has vis-à-vis Silicon Valley,” he said.

Kreisberg also said the life science scholarships highlight the recent trend toward compartmentalization at the Business School.

“The class used to be a smorgasbord, and now it’s a chef’s tasting menu,” Kreisberg said. “They’re breaking the class into micro-groups.”

Kreisberg noted that age gaps between students would be further exacerbated by the recently-created “2+2” program, which admits college juniors to the Business School after two years in the workforce.