20 Mar 2020

Reaffirming our commitment to international students

We learned yesterday that the U.S. State Department is “suspending routine visa services in most countries worldwide,” according to this press release. Knowing that this news would be unsettling, especially for our international applicants and admitted students, I am writing today.

The mission of Harvard Business School is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. In order to fulfill that mission, HBS has a deep commitment to engaging globally, including by admitting students from all over the world into our MBA program. For example, in the MBA Class of 2021, 37% of our students are international students who bring tremendous experience from which all students can learn. In a post three years ago, I wrote about how I benefitted personally from diverse perspectives as an HBS student.

Today I want to reaffirm that HBS MBA Admissions will continue to admit the most talented international and domestic applicants, irrespective of citizenship, as we strive to build a class of leaders who will make a difference in the world.

We hope that the global situation around COVID-19 improves and that the suspension of visa services passes quickly. The Harvard International Office and we in MBA Admissions and Financial Aid will do all that we can to support students through the visa process. Any international admitted student who is unable to start the program due to a visa issue despite their best efforts will be deferred to next year’s MBA class.

Each year, we are humbled to receive applications from many more talented individuals than we have room to admit in the HBS MBA program. The hardest part of our job is turning away many who we know will go on to lives of purpose and impact. While we could keep these applicants on hold, we normally keep a relatively small waitlist for two reasons 1) we understand the anxiety involved with more waiting and 2) in a typical year, we have a pretty good idea about how many spots in the class will open up over the summer. This is not a typical year. In the spirit of transparency, I am sharing that we plan to invite many talented and qualified applicants to stay with us on a larger waitlist.

Our hearts go out to all of you affected, directly or indirectly, by the spread of COVID-19.