As we approach the next application deadline, we have noticed a few common questions from prospective students regarding the HBS MBA application. Check out the top 5 questions we get from applicants and the top 3 questions we wish we received, below. We hope this information is useful as you finalize your applications in the next few weeks! We also encourage you to check out the FAQs webpage and our Pep Talk video series.

Top 5 Questions We Get from Applicants

1. Does HBS have a preference between the GMAT and GRE?

We do not have a preference for one test over the other. If you submit multiple test scores from GMAT or GRE to HBS, we will only look at the score from your highest single test sitting. 69% of the Class of 2025 submitted GMAT scores and 34% submitted GRE scores, with some students submitting scores from both tests.

2. Is there a GMAT/GRE waiver?

We do not offer GMAT/GRE waivers. We do accept the online versions of these exams where available even if they do not have a writing section (AWA). Scores from these online tests will be accepted at HBS in any future admissions round as long as they are valid from the testing organization, which may be less than the customary five years.

3. Is full-time work experience required?

As the case method of learning used by our MBA program relies on different perspectives, we strongly recommend that you have two years of full-time work experience in a professional position in the public, private, or nonprofit sector by the time you enroll at HBS. Co-ops or internships done while in school or during the summers between terms are not insignificant, but typically do not count toward professional work experience for our purposes.

4. What is the deadline for the recommendation letters?

Recommendations are due at the same time as the application deadline, though we do extend a 48-hour grace period afterward to recommenders only. Our advice is to ask your recommenders early and encourage them to submit early.

5. Is there an advantage to submitting as soon as possible?

There is no advantage to submitting as soon as possible. We do not start the evaluation process prior to the application deadline.

Top 3 Questions We Wish We Got from Applicants

1. What makes a good essay?

A good HBS essay is self-reflective! The essay is your opportunity to share new information that isn’t elsewhere in the application. Think about how you can use the essay to help the admissions committee get to know you better. Consider meaningful or formative experiences that are important to you that you haven’t gotten a chance to mention anywhere else in your application (or in as much detail as you would like).

2. How should I choose and prepare my recommenders?

A good recommender knows you well and is able to speak to your specific strengths and abilities. We prefer to have one of your two recommenders be a current or former supervisor, but we also understand that not all workspaces provide the right environment to be open about your graduate school ambitions. Think about who has seen you develop and grow in a professional context, who would be able to speak to specific projects or initiatives that you have been a part of, and who would be a natural advocate for your professional development. Check out this video for more tips.

3. What happens to my application after I submit it?

As mentioned above, we do not start reading applications until after the deadline. Once that passes, applications are divided into industry groups for the Admissions Board to review. At least two different members of the Admissions Board will read every application submitted, and it’s important to note that your application will be read holistically – we consider all elements of the application together to get to know you better.

Approximately one month after the application deadline, we will extend invitations to interview to those moving forward in our process. Those who are not moving forward in the process will be released at that time in order to give them time to pursue other plans.