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Whats New at HBS?

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Dean Nitin Nohria has only been at the top spot at Harvard Business School for about a year, but the effects of his projects and initiatives are already starting to be seen. He has declared that his priorities are around five core themes: Innovation. Intellectual Ambition, Internationalization, Inclusion, and Integration. What does this all mean specifically for you as an HBS applicant?

The visible changes at Harvard that are at least in part due to Dean Nohria’s influence include:

A move beyond the case method
What was sacrosanct at Harvard for generations was that 100% of courses were taught using the case study method. As Veritas Prep predicted when Dean Nohria arrived in Summer 2010, the curriculum is undergoing change. Starting with the class matriculating in Fall 2011, students will now have “field method” experiences as a counterpart to the case-based teaching. The first change to the curriculum is a year-long first-year course called FIELD, for Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development. FIELD features small-group opportunities for students to put what they learn into practice. The Class of 2012 will also see a reduction in the number of case-based courses and the introduction of new labs, similar to what schools like MIT have offered for some time.

A slight increase in average age of admitted students
Harvard has traditionally been very open to younger candidates, and has not been as fixated on work experience as some other schools. This preference for younger candidates may have reversed with the class starting at HBS in Fall 2011. Over a quarter of people accepted in this class graduated from college in 2007, which means that they have a solid four years of work experience before beginning their MBA. Harvard did not  accept a single student straight from college this year into the full-time MBA program.  It is highly unlikely that the pendulum will swing too far in the other direction — Harvard is almost certainly going to continue accepting high-potential early-career students.

More women
As a direct result of one of Dean Nohria’s new initiatives, 39% of the Class of 2014 are women. Harvard now rivals Wharton in this area. Harvard is also working to increase the numbers of women on the faculty and is sponsoring academic research on women in business.

An effort to broaden the professional pool beyond the typical consulting and finance candidate
While consultants, investment bankers, and private equity analysts will undoubtedly make up the majority of classes of students entering Harvard for years to come, during this past year, these standard business school types were not welcomed as warmly as they typically have been in past years.  Harvard was more selective in choosing among these cohorts, and some very well-qualified candidates did not get offered a spot. This is likely due to Dean Nohria’s concern regarding the bad rap that business schools have gotten in the press and their perceived responsibility in contributing to the economic

A “normalization” of the HBS 2+2 program admissions
Coinciding with the increase in overall age of Harvard’s students, the Admissions Board also made an adjustment to the HBS 2+2 program. There are fewer special rules and policies surrounding an application to 2+2, and instead, it looks more like a formal channel for Harvard to attract qualified students earlier in their lives. College juniors and seniors can apply through 2+2 in a series of application rounds that work just like the standard MBA application rounds do, except that they are  staggered on an offset schedule from the main cycle, and the essay questions are slightly different.

Today’s piece was clipped from our Essential Guide to Harvard Business School, one of 15 guides to the world’s top MBA programs, available for purchase on our site. Take a look if you are ready to prepare you Harvard application. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!