What comes to mind when you think of business these days? If it’s the stereotype of the grey flannel suit and traditional office environment, then Harvard Business School wants to have a word. To reach college seniors —particularly liberal arts students—HBS launched the 2+2 Program back in 2007. This deferred admissions program targets students who might have otherwise never considered business school.
Candidates apply in their senior year of college, and once admitted, work for two years before starting the Harvard MBA program. Graduate students who went directly from undergrad to grad school are also eligible.
At SBC, our team includes the former HBS Associate Director of MBA Admissions who helped launch the 2+2 Program targeting college seniors.
She explains that the program is all about getting the word out regarding what a graduate business degree can offer. Potential 2+2 candidates may have had few mentors in business. Or, an MBA degree might not be on their radar given their current course of study.
“No one ever tells undergrads that business involves areas like nonprofits, government, education and social enterprise,” she says.
What should college seniors know about the 2+2 Program?
To be considered for admission to the 2+2 Program Class of 2025 (entering fall 2023), you must graduate from your program between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Your GMAT or GRE test score can be dated no earlier than April 30, 2016. If you wish to take the online GMAT, you must take it no later than one week prior to the submission deadline (April 22, 2021), as this version of the test requires one week for scores to be issued.
College seniors outside the US. are welcome to apply. If you are an international applicant attending a non-English speaking undergraduate university, you will need to submit a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE score taken after January 1, 2019. HBS will accept the at-home or online versions of these tests.
The 2+2 application is essentially the same as the online application for the traditional full-time MBA program. It has a reduced application fee of $100 vs. the $250 fee for non-2+2 applicants.
Note that HBS offers a need-based 2+2 application fee waiver. This waiver is available to all 2+2 applicants for whom the fee presents a financial burden (this includes domestic and international applicants).
Notably, 2+2 applications have only one deadline: April 29, 2021. This allows you to submit fall semester grades for consideration. Interviews and decisions happen in May.
Although the name implies a two-year work period prior to the MBA, it’s actually more flexible. In fact, the school says in many cases they allow 2+2 admits to defer for three to four years in an HBS-approved professional opportunity. “They always approve a third year of deferral if you are working on something reasonable, i.e. not laying on a beach in Bali,” says our HBS insider.
What is HBS looking for in 2+2 applicants?
If you check out the 2+2 class profile for the 2020 cohort, the educational background breaks down as follows:
- STEM 58%
- Economics/Business 28%
- Humanities 14%
“Traditional applicants were not initially the main target of this program,” our SBC expert shares. “They are looking for all the same qualities and credentials as they do for the regular pool. But then they’re also looking for scientists, engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs, to name a few.”
“They really hoped they would find young people who saw the deferred admission as an opportunity to take a risk and do something a little bit off the beaten path.”
Therefore, traditional applicants should embrace the “untraditional” side of their personal story. Rest assured, it can be done. As an example, check out our client case study that highlights the successful 2+2 application journey of Anita, an Economics major from Northwestern University.
“For the rest, you want the things that 2+2 is looking for to be the focus – science, engineering, entrepreneurship, risk-taking, etc.,” our HBS insider advises. “It’s ok to get dorky in these areas and go deep.”
If you are considering the HBS 2+2 Program and need input from an expert sounding board, we’re here to help! Reach out to set up a complimentary assessment of your candidacy today.