The MBA Experience
A Leadership Education Unlike Any Other
Harvard Business School invites students in. Into two years of leadership practice immersed in real-world challenges. Into a diverse community of colleagues and faculty reflecting a world of talents, beliefs, and backgrounds. Into an intense period of personal and professional transformation that prepares them for challenges in any functional area—anywhere in the world.
The HBS MBA goes inside the issues that matter, driving students to reach inside themselves for the strength, skills, and confidence they will need to face them. In every case, class, event, and activity, students are asked not only to study leadership, but to demonstrate it.
Each day at HBS begins with one question for our students: "What will you do?" Because that's the truest way to prepare them for the larger question that matters most, at HBS and in their careers beyond our campus: "What difference will you make in the world?"
Learn more about what our students experience each day throughout their two years at HBS.
Learning in Practice
There are special moments that pull everything MBA's have learned into focus. When theory, practice, experience and talent all come to one sharp point — a decision that shapes a definitive course of action. When it's no longer an issue of what can be done, but of what our students will do.
Decisive moments define a Harvard Business School education. Here, everything from Section life to case studies, from field-based learning to international Immersions, culminates in one larger lesson — what it means to assume leadership within an ever-growing, ever-changing world.
Through case method courses, learning team discussions, multimedia simulations and more, HBS students exercise the leadership skills they will practice in business and beyond. The issues are complex, the stakes high, and the demands challenging. But as a result, our students leave HBS with lessons in leadership that are practical, priceless and most importantly, real.
Get a glimpse inside our students' academic experiences at HBS:
The MBA Program curriculum is split into two different yet complementary learning experiences:
The Required Curriculum (RC) forms the first year of study and establishes a common foundation in the fundamental practices of business including finance, marketing, leadership, negotiation, operations, strategy, and more. During the first year at HBS, all students pursue the same course of study: the Required Curriculum including FIELD. By studying under a common curriculum, students build a solid, broad foundation of general management concepts and skills across all the key disciplines.
Term 1 courses focus on the internal functional operations of business enterprise and Term 2 courses cover the relationship of the organization to larger economic, governmental, and social environments. The year-long FIELD course focuses on leadership intelligence, global value creation, and design and launch of a microbusiness. A noteworthy portion of FIELD 2 is the required global immersion experience during January term.
The Elective Curriculum (EC) follows the RC's breadth of experience with an opportunity for depth, breadth, or both: students choose from among 96 courses in ten subject areas as well as field-based learning opportunities to gain a more concentrated expertise in the industries, functions, and ideas that interest them most. Additionally, cross registration enables students to take classes at other select graduate programs during their EC year.
The Immersion Experience Program (IXP) offers second-year students off-campus, faculty-led programs committed to the pedagogy of experiential learning. The IXP facilitates the transmission of key ideas in managerial practice through field-based applied management projects and active learning exercises. As such, the majority of an IXP takes place outside a classroom or lecture environment and every IXP has students working in small teams to conduct field and project work for at least half the time. For more information on IXP's, view the EC Course Catalog.
Field-based learning is a remarkable opportunity for students to truly personalize their education as they make connections and gain experience in their chosen fields. More than 50 percent of HBS students take learning out of the classroom and into the workplace in faculty-supervised field-based learning. Independent Projects offer students an opportunity to deepen their knowledge in a particular area of interest. Review examples of past projects and next steps required to propose an Independent Project at your organization.
What's it really like to be in the HBS MBA Program? While our students' experiences are as distinct as their personalities, talents and ambitions, their journeys proceed along a common series of stages.
Visit the Student Life Timeline to reveal the activities, events, and transitions our students experience along the pathway from prematriculation to membership in the HBS alumni network.
In addition to their rigorous academic learning, our students gain valuable leadership skills through participation in the many student-led clubs on campus. Learn more about how the clubs can work with your organization and connect with their leadership.