Harvard Business School to Provide Full-Tuition Scholarships for Students with Greatest Financial Need

Harvard is trying to make their high profile MBA more accessible to a wider range of students. © Natalie Keyssar for Harvard Business School 2013

Harvard Business School will provide scholarships to cover the total cost of tuition and course fees for those with the greatest financial need—approximately 10 percent of its student body.

In an effort to make the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree more affordable and accessible to a wider array of students, the School will also offer scholarship support to more students from middle income backgrounds, building on the approximately 50 percent of students who already receive scholarships.

Both changes will benefit current and future students and are the latest in a series of steps over the past decade to reduce financial barriers to enrolling in the two-year full-time MBA Program.

HBS Dean Srikant Datar said talent was much more evenly distributed than opportunity.

“Harvard Business School should be a place where the most talented future leaders can come to realize their potential,” he said. “We want to remove the financial barriers that stand in their way and alleviate the burden of debt so they can focus on becoming leaders who make a difference in the world.”

Over the past several years, the School has worked to make the MBA Program more affordable for students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Recent approaches include holding the cost of tuition flat since 2019; launching the Forward Fellowship, which offers additional funding to students who provide financial support to family members while attending business school; revising the financial aid formula to factor in socioeconomic background in addition to personal income, assets, and undergraduate debt; and instituting a need-based application fee waiver.

HBS has also advanced socioeconomic inclusion by continuing to expand outreach to first-generation college graduates and prospective applicants from diverse backgrounds and paths.

In 2020, a student-led effort resulted in the formation of a Socioeconomic Inclusion Task Force comprising students, faculty, and staff, and the launch of a First-Generation Students Club. In 2021, HBS expanded financial wellness programming, including personal financial management events and workshops for prospective and current students. Today’s announcement signals the School’s ongoing commitment to affordability and socioeconomic inclusion.

“We recognise that financial concerns may keep exceptional potential applicants from considering business school as an option,” said Chad Losee, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at HBS.

“Given the impact they are having in their companies and communities, that is a loss not only for them, but also for society as a whole. By funding the full cost of tuition for students with the greatest financial need, we aim to ensure that prospective students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, industries, and parts of the world have access to the HBS experience.”

HBS has long granted financial aid through a need-based approach, unusual for graduate business schools, using a formula that considers pre-MBA income and assets, socioeconomic background, and undergraduate debt in determining financial need for both domestic and international students.

Approximately 50 percent of students receive a need-based scholarship from HBS, with awards ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $60,000 per year. The average annual need-based scholarship in 2021-2022 was $42,000 ($84,000 over the two years of the program). The School’s annual MBA financial aid budget exceeds $45M as a result of annual gifts and more than 750 named fellowship funds from generous HBS alumni and friends committed to supporting the next generation of students at HBS.

With this additional commitment from the School, roughly 10 percent of all HBS students—those with the greatest financial need—will receive a full tuition and course fee scholarship of $76,000 for each year of the two-year program. Students will continue to be responsible for their own living expenses.

“Affordability is of paramount importance because it enables people from all backgrounds, experiences, and interests to enroll at HBS,” said Matthew Weinzierl, Senior Associate Dean of the MBA Program. “Our case-based approach to teaching and learning relies heavily on exposing HBS students to a wide variety of perspectives because we’re preparing them to be leaders in organizations and in a world marked by vast human difference and diversity.”

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).