Harvard Business School announced last week that it has revised the application to its flagship MBA program in an effort to better reflect the School's mission and to attract a wider pool of applicants.
According to a blog post posted Thursday by Deirdre C. Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at the Business School, the School has changed the stipulations for the recommendation letters and written essays currently required as part of the application.
Beginning with the Class of 2016, applicants will now be asked to submit two, rather than three, recommendation letters. They will also have the option of writing a single essay in response to the prompt “What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?” without any word limit, if they choose to answer it at all.
This past year, applicants were asked to write two essays, each with a 400-word limit, in response to prompts about “something you did well” and “something you wish you had done better.”
According to Leopold, the new optional essay emphasizes that the application process is “not an essay-writing contest,” and a lack of a word limit accomplishes the School’s goal of being more like the “Real World.”
The revised essay component is similar to the optional prompt in Harvard College’s written application, which also does not have a word limit.
The reduction in the required number of recommendation letters stems from a desire to broaden the applicant pool and remove a potential hurdle for applicants working for “organizations where there is not a tried-and-true path for talented folks to leave for business school,” Leopold wrote.
Leopold stressed that these changes in the application process will not affect the majority of applicants from Harvard College who apply to the Business School via the 2+2 program—an admissions track for college seniors that includes deferment of matriculation in order to gain requisite work experience.
Changes in the process are also not expected to affect the number of applicants who move on to the interview round, nor the number who are eventually offered admission, according to Leopold. These numbers are expected to stay put at roughly 1800 and 1100, respectively, she said.
Whether these changes are made permanent is dependent on their success in the upcoming admissions process, Leopold said.
“A lot of thought and continuous improvement goes into this application,” Leopold said. “We’re eager to see what kind of responses we get.”
—Staff writer Indrani G. Das can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @IndraniGDas.