General Information

What is the difference between the DBA programs and the PhD programs?

The DBA programs are administered by Harvard Business School, and the PhD programs are offered jointly with Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Both programs are rigorous, academic programs designed to educate scholars to become faculty members at top-tier business schools and universities.

Students in all of our programs take two years of rigorous course work at HBS, at various Harvard departments as well as at MIT. Both the DBA and PhD programs serve to train students in terms of the most cutting edge academic research methods and put them on a path toward becoming scholars in business academia.

The rigor of our DBA program is evidenced by the formidable placement record of our DBA graduates. Recent DBA graduates have gone on to successful academic careers at leading institutions such as Kellogg, MIT, Wharton, among others.

View a complete list of our recent academic placements

Why is the DBA program not called a “PhD program”?

At Harvard University, only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) may grant the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Therefore, only doctoral programs administered by or jointly administered with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are “PhD programs.”

Do you offer a distance learning or part-time doctoral program?
No. HBS Doctoral Programs are full-time programs. Online or part-time options are not available.
Where do students live, and are they required to stay in residence for the entire duration of the program?

The general expectation is that students will remain in residence for the entire time they are enrolled in an HBS Doctoral Program.

Regarding housing, students arrange for their own housing. There are several on- and off-campus housing options that are available.

We recognize that every student has a unique set of life circumstances and needs: some are single, some are married, some have children, some cherish their privacy and a larger living space, while others want a stronger sense of camaraderie with their fellow students. The HBS experience is more than attending classes—it's about having a sense of community, and feeling that the place where you live for two years is truly your home.

Students may choose from a range of on- and off-campus housing options to satisfy their needs.

I am an advanced doctoral student at another institution, and would be interested in doing research at your institution. How may I do this?
Scholars intending to do research who hold a doctorate, or have equivalent professional experience, or are advanced doctoral candidates who have completed all required coursework, may apply for Visiting Fellow status within Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).


When is the deadline to apply?

Applications for Fall 2019 are now open, and the deadline to submit your application by will be the 1st of December 2018. All required materials, including letters of recommendation and test scores, must be submitted no later than this deadline to be considered for admission.

What are the requirements to apply?

To be considered for admission, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate applicants in his/her senior year are welcome to apply. Here’s what you’ll need to apply:

Completed online application form
Résumé or curriculum vitae
Statement of Purpose
Transcripts for all college/university degrees and courses: Self-reported transcripts are accepted for all programs. Applicants must upload copies of his/her transcripts to the online application system.
Current GMAT or GRE scores
TOEFL scores (non-native English speakers who did not receive an undergraduate degree from a university of college where the primary languange of instruction is English)
Three letters of recommendation (at least one from an academic source). Recommendation letters must be submitted online through the online application system. Hard copy recommendation letters will not be accepted.
$105 application fee via credit card
May I submit a hard-copy of the application?
No. Applications will only be accepted via the online application tool.
If I have an MBA degree, will that make a difference?

Some students have an MBA or another master’s degree before entering the program. However, an MBA or another master’s degree is not required for admissions.

What are you looking for in an applicant?

This is a difficult question to answer. . .  Our application pool is extremely competitive and each program has unique preferences.

Students in Harvard Business School Doctoral Programs represent diverse backgrounds, degrees, undergraduate schools, and disciplines - including physics, math, economics, psychology, and engineering. Some students enter our doctoral programs upon graduation from college, while others spend a few years working before they pursue a career in business academia. However, all students in our doctoral programs have strong quantitative and analytical skills, as demonstrated by their records of academic performance and test scores. Ultimately, we are looking for applicants with strong potential for conducting innovative and independent research that also have the motivation and drive to pursue a career in business academia. Having letters of recommendation from Faculty who are able to comment on your research skills and/or potential is particularly helpful for the admissions committee when considering your fit for our program.

Is there an age restriction?
It's never too soon to consider a career in academia—nor too late. The profile of today's doctoral students in business administration reflects a diverse cross section of society—virtually all life stages, professional experiences, nationalities, and economic and ethnic backgrounds are represented. The existing range of schools and programs offers a wealth of possibilities for those interested in finding a program that will closely match their individual needs.
Should I contact faculty before I apply?
Contacting faculty prior to application is neither necessary nor recommended. Faculty members receive hundreds of emails from prospective students and regret that they are unable to respond to all inquiries. Prospective applicants are encouraged to explore faculty members’ research interests to see how their own research interests may align.
May I reapply to the program?

Yes. Applicants who applied last year must file a new application, pay the full application fee, submit at least one new letter of recommendation from someone who has not written previously, and submit transcripts covering any academic work undertaken since the time of last application. It is the policy of HBS Doctoral Programs that prior applications and supporting materials will be considered along with new application materials.

HBS Doctoral Programs will not accept more than three applications from any individual during the course of his or her academic career.

Am I required to take the GMAT/GRE?
All applicants, regardless of background, must have taken either the GMAT or the GRE between December 1, 2013 and December 1, 2018 for Fall 2019 enrollment. Official scores must be forwarded to Harvard by ETS.
What is the minimum GRE and GMAT score requirement?
HBS Doctoral Programs does not have a minimum GRE or GMAT requirement. Generally, successful applicants score in the 85th percentile or higher on their standardized tests.
Am I required to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam?

The TOEFL requirement may be waived only if the applicant's native language is English or he/she submits a transcript indicating successful completion of an undergraduate degree from a university or college where the primary language of instruction is English. A U.S. master’s degree will not supersede a U.S. bachelor’s degree in this case. Because of the rigorous nature of the academic coursework at Harvard, the committee prefers TOEFL scores of at least 100 on the internet-based test and IELTS scoresof at least 7.5

Submitted scores must be from a test taken between September 1, 2018 and December 1, 2019 for Fall 2020 enrollment.

May I apply to both an HBS joint-PhD program and another GSAS doctoral program (ex. Business Economics and Economics)? How do I do this?
Applications for all of our interfaculty programs are processed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants may apply to two programs in any given year through the GSAS online application system.
I am applying to a program, where should I send my official transcripts?

Electronic transcripts are now accepted for all programs, so these should be uploaded to the application. Only upon admission will hard copy transcripts be required.