MBA Experience

Independent Projects: Eligibility & Criteria

Program Eligibility

To be eligible for the grant program students must:

  • Be a second-year HBS student
  • Be formally enrolled in an Independent Project for academic credit during the Fall or Winter term.
  • If you are pursuing this project as part of a Field Course, you will be asked for additional information in the application; and projects will be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  • Meet all project and eligibility requirements outlined on the HBS Field-Based Learning website. (intranet login required)
  • Submit all documents by the program deadlines (see below)

Program Criteria

Social Enterprise must be a core element of the Independent Project, and grants will be awarded based on the strength of this component in the application. Social Enterprise projects may include work with specific organizations or undertaking an industry study related to:

  • nonprofit or public-sector organizations/management issues
  • for profit organizations in which the mission and the core activities of the organization have a direct social purpose
  • business approaches where the core focus is social impact, including environmental sustainability or corporate social responsibility.

Note on HBS New Venture Competition and Rock Accelerator participation:
The SE Independent Project Grant program is intended to support expenses related to the research and analysis component of Independent Projects. The program does not support business start-up expenses such as: beta program development, organization licensing or registration fees, attorney services, office equipment, computer software programs, etc.

  • Once a student or team has participated in the Rock Accelerator, they are no longer eligible for additional funding through the Experimentation Fund (New Venture Competition reimbursement through either the business or social enterprise track) or the Social Enterprise Independent Project Reimbursement Grant Program for that same project.
  • During the Winter term, a student or team can only receive funding from one of the following sources for the same project: the Experimentation Fund, the Social Enterprise Independent Project Reimbursement Grant Program, or the Rock Accelerator.

Note on travel to countries on Harvard Travel Risk Ratings list [updated 7/24/13]:
With greater numbers of students pursuing activities away from campus, and with increased instability in a number of regions of the world, the School has developed guidelines and an approach to funding students that balances educational opportunities with the risks inherent in locations where violence is high and the infrastructure to support travelers in the region is weak or overtaxed.

In order to be considered for grant funding, students who are traveling to countries on the Harvard Travel Risk Ratings list - whether for all or some portion of their fellowship/project - must complete a Travel Application and return to the Social Enterprise Initiative with their grant application. Only students whose Travel Applications are approved will be eligible to receive funding from the School.

The selection committee will make case-by-case decisions based on the level of the specific country/region warning, security plans, and individual circumstances (e.g., country of citizenship), as well as the unique learning opportunity presented. In general, the bar is set high for Travel Applications to high risk countries. We recommend that students have alternate plans to pursuing their project should the Travel Application not be approved.