Following the completion of the Required Curriculum, and again at the completion of the Elective Curriculum, the Academic Performance Committee (APC) recommends to the faculty the award of honors (“First-Year Honors” and “Second-Year Honors”) to students who have achieved an exceptionally high academic performance and whose conduct has been in keeping with the letter and spirit of the HBS Community Values and MBA Honor Code. The Academic Performance Committee (APC) is comprised of faculty and MBA Program administrators who have been appointed to ensure appropriate equitable application of MBA Program standards. At the APC's discretion, each group shall comprise between 15% to 20% of the class. The award of honors is then voted on by the faculty, with the faculty retaining complete and unfettered discretion on the awarding of honors. (Note: While MBA Program course grades are the primary basis for the award of honors, information about a student's grades in Pass/Fail courses, cross-registered courses, and doctoral seminars may be considered by the APC, to the extent it deems appropriate, in determining whether honors in the MBA Program are merited.)

Grade Requirements for Honors

Students in the top 15-20% of their respective RC/EC class are eligible to be considered for First-Year and Second-Year Honors. The exact cut-off is determined by the Academic Performance Committee, and then subsequently voted by the HBS Faculty.

The exact cut-off for honors designations varies year-to-year according to the total credits required and overall class performance. Calculations are based on a student's percentage of Net Category I grades meaning that any Category, III, IV, X, LP, or F grade credits cancel out an equal number of Category I grade credits. For credit-bearing courses and Independent Projects graded on a P/LP/F scale, 'P' grades represent satisfactory performance and those credits do not figure into honors calculations.

Historical data on grade cut-offs for First-Year Honors, Second-Year Honors, MBA with Distinction and MBA with High Distinction are available on myHBS (log-in required).

Required Curriculum: Grade statistics for RC students are considered together at the summer APC meeting and are then voted by the Faculty. The list of students awarded First-Year Honors is posted online in August. First-Year Honors are noted on the transcript.

Elective Curriculum: Grade statistics for all EC students are considered together at the APC meeting in late May, the Faculty votes shortly after, and the list of students is posted online as soon as EC grades are released. Second-Year Honors are noted on the transcript.

Honors designations for November and March graduates are determined by the cut-offs established for the class which graduated in the previous May.

Review & Qualification for Honors

The legislated standards for awarding the MBA degree at Harvard Business School imply that a broad range of factors should be considered when decisions are made about which students should be awarded academic honors. These factors include the achievement of an exceptionally high academic performance, as well as character and conduct in keeping with the letter and spirit of the HBS Community Values and MBA Honor Code.

MBA with Distinction/MBA with High Distinction (George F. Baker Scholar)

An award of the Master in Business Administration Degree with Distinction or High Distinction recognizes a student's exceptionally high performance in the MBA Program. The Academic Performance Committee (APC) recommends to the faculty the award of the MBA Degree with Distinction to graduating students who have qualified for both First-Year and Second-Year Honors. Students with the highest academic performance (approximately 5% of the class, as determined at the discretion of the APC) are recommended for the award of the MBA degree with High Distinction and designation as George F. Baker Scholars.

Release of Honors Information

Distinction and High Distinction are part of the MBA degree and are therefore public information. First-Year Honors and Second-Year Honors are also considered public information unless a student expressly requests in advance of the award process that the award not be included in his or her releasable student record or otherwise made public. Students must notify the Registrar’s Office in writing of their request for privacy in advance of the award process.