Chances are if you come to visit us on campus (or chat with a student or alum) you’ll hear a lot of HBS terms and acronyms being thrown around. So what do they all mean? Here’s a quick guide to some key HBS lingo.

ALDRICH: Aldrich Hall is where all first year classes take place. Aldrich Hall was opened in 1953 (and later updated in 2004), and the horseshoe-shaped classroom layouts were specifically designed to facilitate case method learning.

THE BOARDROOM: In this capstone experience, first-year student teams present case-based management decisions to alumni playing the role of board members.

BRIDGES: To close out their time at HBS, all graduating students participate in Bridges—a three day capstone experience. ECs return to their first year section where they take time to reflect on the past two years and consider next steps on their career and life journeys.

CASE METHOD: Pioneered by HBS faculty and one of the highlights of the HBS experience, the case method is a profound educational innovation that presents the greatest challenges confronting leading companies, nonprofits, and government organizations—complete with the constraints and incomplete information found in real business issues—and places the student in the role of the decision maker. Students will read 500 cases during their two years at HBS.

CLUB: There are over 70 student clubs which range from industry focused clubs to recreational/sports clubs to geographical interest clubs. These clubs host over 25 conferences a year and bring extraordinary speakers to the school. 

COLD CALL: At the beginning of each class the professor cold calls a student to open up the case. Students never know which day or class they will be cold-called in! This has become such a cornerstone of the HBS experience that there is now a Cold Call Podcast.

CONFERENCE: HBS hosts around 25 conferences annually; they are open to the public and organized by student clubs. Conferences include the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Conference, the Dynamic Women in Business Conference, and the Tech Conference. For a full list of conferences click here.

CPD: CPD is the Career and Professional Development Office on campus. About 70% of students change careers after HBS, and CPD works to help each student define their own unique career vision. The CPD team includes over 55 career coaches who specialize in different industries, geographies or life stages.  CPD partners with over 1,500 organizations from around the world that participate in some form of the recruiting process at HBS; whether it is interviewing on campus or posting jobs on our website.

EC: EC stands for “elective curriculum” and refers to the flexible second year at HBS. Second year students are also referred to as “ECs”. There are over 100 elective courses for students to choose from, as well as opportunities to cross-register with other Harvard schools, MIT’s School of Management, Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts. Additionally, ECs can elect to go on a global immersion in January, or to design their own independent projects.

FIELD: FIELD is a required part of the first year curriculum and stands for Field Immersion Experience and Leadership Development. FIELD Foundations takes place during the first semester and engages small teams in interactive workshops that reshape how students think, act, and see themselves. FIELD Global Immersion takes place in the second semester and culminates with student teams going into global markets around the world to help develop a new product or service concept for global partner organizations.

FOMO: With so many things to participate in at HBS it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day! FOMO stands for “Fear of Missing Out” and you can learn more about it from student Britt Williams here.

GEO:  GEO is the Global Experience Office on campus. You’ll work closely with this department when going abroad for FIELD Global Immersion or IFCs in your second year.

HKS: HKS is short for Harvard Kennedy School. Together with HKS, we offer two joint degree programs: the MBA/MPP and the MBA/MPA-ID. After three years, graduates will be prepared for complex issues that call for the collaboration of the public, nonprofit, and private sectors—and for leadership effective in each.

HLS: HLS is short for Harvard Law School. Together with HLS, we offer the JD/MBA which is the oldest joint degree program at Harvard. Structured to be completed in four years, the joint degree program integrates two complementary disciplines that prepare graduates for professional roles requiring leadership, legal expertise, and a general management perspective in private enterprise, government, and the nonprofit sector.

HMS: HMS is short for Harvard Medical School. Together with HMS, we offer the MD/MBA which provides the informed leadership necessary for innovation and progress at the intersection of medicine and business.

IFC: IFC stands for Immersive Field Courses. You’ll have the option to take one of these in your second year, and they usually include classroom work in the fall that culminates in a global immersion in January.

I-LAB: The Harvard Innovation Lab is a state of the art building which serves as a hub for entrepreneurial activity around the university and the Boston area.  With office space and a packed calendar of programming, the i-Lab brings entrepreneurs throughout the university together.

NVC: The New Venture Competition is an annual student competition sponsored by Harvard Business School’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise Initiative. Students can test their ideas, get feedback from industry experts, and win prize money. Hear more from 2015 winner RapidSOS here.

PARTNER: About 15% of students come to HBS with significant others. Partners receive many of the same great benefits as students, like an HBS Partner ID card (to join our fitness center and use library resources) and access to some MBA Career & Professional Development services. Partners are also encouraged to attend HBS-sponsored partner events and join HBS clubs.

PORTRAIT PROJECT: Each year we ask our students a straightforward, simple question taken from the lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Students respond with intimate and candid responses through our annual Portrait Project

RC: RC stands for “Required Curriculum” and refers to the first year at HBS. Second year students are also referred to as “ECs”. As RCs, students take a set of 10 Required Curriculum courses which are the foundation of the general management education.

ROCK: The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship is the hub of entrepreneurship at HBS.  The Rock Center manages many different programs including the New Venture Competition, the Rock Accelerator program, the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, the Rock Summer Fellowships, and the loan reduction program for students pursuing entrepreneurial ventures after school.

SEAS: SEAS stands for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Together with HBS, SEAS offers a two year MS/MBA degree. The program aims to educate future leaders of technology ventures by providing a strong foundation in general management, building design skills, and deepening students’ understanding of engineering.

SA: The HBS Student Association represents and advocates for the student body and serves as the main interface between students and the faculty/administration.  Through our academic, social, and professional initiatives, we strive to create an invaluable and rewarding MBA experience for all students

SECTION: HBS can feel like a big place – so the class is divided into ten sections of about 90 people. During your first year you will take all your classes with this group, and it’s likely they’ll become your closest friends at business school.

SHAD: Shad is a the three-story, brick and concrete structure that houses a multipurpose gym, indoor track, cardio and weight room, racquet courts, locker rooms, and exercise studios. It is exclusively open to members of the HBS community.

SIPS: SIPS, or Short Intensive Programs, are no-fee, no credit elective courses for RCs and ECS that offer the opportunity to think about career choices, gain practical skills, and explore topics you might otherwise never get to study. Startup Bootcamp, launched originally for RCs, is still one of the most popular SIPs.

SPANGLER: Spangler epicenter of student activity. It is home to the dining hall, game room, US Post Office, Harvard COOP, MBA offices, and more.

START: START week is the first official welcome for the new class of MBA students. START takes place over the course of students’ first week on campus in late August; all first years (RCs) participate in START and a group of second year (EC) START Ambassadors plan and lead activities throughout the week.

TGIF: Every Friday students gather on campus to celebrate the close of the week over food and drinks.

TREK: Pack your bags to travel to different parts of the world! HBS Treks are student organized trips that give you a chance to network, explore career options, and learn about new cultures with your classmates.

TUNNELS: The underground tunnels at HBS connect different buildings around campus. The best part? You can go from your dorm to your classroom in shorts and flip flops – even in the middle of winter.