An ambitious college freshman asked me how he could get into the HBS 2+2 program. He wanted advice on what he might do over his few years at university to improve the likelihood he’d be admitted to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program when he applied. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the HBS 2+2 program, it is a deferred admission program in which Harvard Business School accepts applications from university students (and graduate students with no previous full-time work experience). The lucky few who are accepted into the HBS 2+2 program are required to work for two years before assuming their place at Harvard Business School.
2+2 is primarily geared toward college STEM and liberal arts majors, but HBS will definitely accept a few young superstars from business undergraduate programs as well. In a recent year, 18% of the 2+2 admits were economics/business majors. To understand why non-business majors receive preference, consider that HBS is using the 2+2 to attract promising candidates who might not otherwise pursue an MBA. The program is highly selective, to say the least, with approximately 12% acceptance rates; so the competition for entry into HBS’ deferred admission program comes down to which applicants have the most STAR POWER…To qualify for admission to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program, you’ll need to graduate at the top of your class, score well on the GMAT, hold campus or off-campus leadership positions, and make a significant impact in the leadership roles you hold. For college applicants who go to school outside the U.S., some amount of international experience via summer internships or study abroad will enhance competitiveness. It’s fair to say that the reference letters in an HBS 2+2 application need to be phenomenal. Applicants will need references who won’t just write positive things but will truly lobby for the applicant and provide vivid examples of the applicant’s talents in action. Finally, as with all MBA applications, the admission decision is holistic. The admissions officers overseeing the HBS 2+2 are looking for candidates with a high degree of maturity and exceptional potential. If the forecast for your future achievements looks extraordinarily bright by your senior year in college, you just might be a contender for admission to HBS’ coveted 2+2 program.
If you’d like to learn more about the HBS 2+2 program, here’s a link to the admission information page on Harvard Business School’s website: http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/application-process/Pages/student-applicants.aspx