Independent Projects allow second-year HBS students to partner with an organization on a real-time challenge of strategic importance. Students are advised by a faculty member and receive academic credit for their final deliverable(s). Organizations benefit from the work performed, as well as from the opportunity to engage with students who might be a fit for your organization.

Propose an Independent Project

Independent Projects may be conducted by a student working independently or in teams that ideally range from three to five students. Each team or individual is expected to conduct research in the field, carry out thoughtful analysis, prepare a report, and make a final presentation—supported by concrete findings and recommendations—to the advising faculty and, if appropriate, the sponsoring organization. Current students can find details on registering and HBS policies on field-based learning (login required).

Not all proposed projects will materialize. Students will respond directly to the organization if they are interested in discussing the opportunity. A team will then find a faculty advisor, confirm participation directly with the organization, and register for credit. If you wish to proactively promote an independent project to relevant students, you may forward the project description to a relevant student club in addition to posting it below.

Fall Term Timeline
Mid-August Propose an independent project. See form below.
Late-August Students return to campus; those interested in an independent project will approach a faculty advisor and will contact the organization directly.
Mid-December Term Ends. Project delivered to organization.
Winter/Spring Term Timeline
Early-December Propose an independent project. See form below.
January Students return to campus; those interested in an independent project will approach a faculty advisor and will contact the organization directly.
Late-April Term Ends. Project delivered to organization.

Creating a Successful Project

A student team and faculty advisor will create a “learning contract” ahead of time that outlines fieldwork requirements, frequency of team meetings, and parameters for evaluation. Sponsoring organizations will want to discuss the timing and scope of the project, and have a clear understanding of the final deliverable. The sponsoring organization and the student team should develop a work plan ahead of time that outlines the expectations for time spent on-site. Please keep in mind that students are not allowed to miss classes in order to travel for projects.

Each sponsoring organization will need to designate a senior manager to serve as the student team’s liaison. This person is expected to provide access to managers and information relevant to the project and should maintain a close connection with the team throughout the process.

A budget and method for reimbursement for appropriate project expenses should be agreed to by the organizations and the student team before the project is underway. While students are not compensated for independent projects, sponsoring organizations may reimburse students for some incidental expenditures such as travel or other out-of-pocket expenses. Students are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards. If you are concerned about issues of confidentiality, you may want to ask your student team to sign a non-disclosure statement prepared by Harvard Business School. Any potential conflicts of interest between the student and the organization must be fully disclosed to management before the project begins. If students will be conducting research in the field on your organization’s behalf, they are required to disclose to any third party from whom they may solicit information that the research they are conducting is for the benefit of the organization, even if they don’t identify the organization by name. The faculty supervisor must keep a copy of the final written report on file for one year, but any confidential information included in the study will be limited to “instructor use only” and held in the strictest confidence.


Past successful projects include:

  • Creating the strategic plan for a new department, including product roadmap, architecture, budget, staffing, product pricing, and additional resources
  • Assisting in building a business case and competitive analysis for an expanded role in the multibillion-dollar Bank/Broker-dealer back-office segment
  • Helping the CEO determine how to manage the business and political issues around the pricing and marketing of prescription drugs
  • Analyzing the appropriateness of an organization’s current price positioning for the North American market, conducting a contribution/break-even analysis of its product lines, and presenting strategic recommendations
  • Working with a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding access to financial services for low-income families, in exploring and suggesting a strategy for interactive media as a tool for educating clients

Independent Project Proposal Form

MBA Independent Project Proposal
Company Information
Location (Select up to 3)
Contact Information
HBS Independent Project Company Postings Disclaimer

This disclaimer statement applies to use of Independent Project resources.

Use of this site is entirely at the risk of the users and the university expressly disclaims any and all liabilities with respect thereto.

The university shall not be responsible to any user or to any third party for any direct or indirect, consequential or special, damages or losses incurred in connection with the use of this site or any data or information transmitted through this site, regardless of the nature of the claim or cause of action. Without limiting the foregoing, the university expressly disclaims any responsibility or obligation to confirm the accuracy of any information posted to the site, to check the background or suitability of any individual seeking to participate in a independent project project, or to assess the suitability of any potential independent project sponsor or field work situation.

Anyone using this site shall be deemed to understand and agree with the aforementioned disclaimer of university liability.