What is the 2 + 2 Program at HBS?

You probably don't qualify for it, but it's an early acceptance program at HBS.

It applies only to MBA applicants who are still in college (either undergrad or a masters program) and, if accepted, students must work for at least two years (maximum four years) before entering business school. Oddly enough, if you have any work experience, you can't apply for 2 + 2.

Are You Eligible?

If you are in your final year of study, you are eligible to apply in the current application cycle. This timing applies to:

  • Candidates from bachelor degree programs
  • Candidates from joint bachelor/graduate degree programs
  • Candidates from graduate degree programs who have not held a full-time work position. To be eligible for the 2+2 program, candidates need to have gone directly from undergraduate to graduate school.

Why Does Harvard Do This?

I asked myself that same question years ago and eventually came to the conclusion that it was a poaching technique (kind of like the undergraduate Early Decision programs, but not so sinister). By identifying candidates early who are exceptionally talented, HBS is able to take the best people off the market before any other school even knows they're out there. If you ask me, it's fair game, though total hardball.

The Drawback

Harvard has very little to go on when evaluating applicants. After all, these people haven't worked. All they've done is attend school and — presumably — excel academically. For me personally, that's not enough information to go on. I don't like selecting candidates that early.

I don't see Harvard throwing in the towel anytime soon, though. In fact, the 2 + 2 program seems to be thriving. For the class of 2020, 1,121 people applied and 123 were admitted. The average GMAT score was 730, which is on par with the regular HBS admits. But what surprised me was the range of admitted GMAT scores: 610 - 780. My question is who the hell has no work experience but was just admitted to HBS with a 610 on the GMAT? Does Lloyd Blankfein have a kid?!!!! It makes no sense.

All I can say is this guy must have discovered a cure for cancer or been raised by wolves or both, because people who score 610 on the GMAT and have no work experience aren't admitted to Harvard. They just aren't.

Link to the 2 + 2 Program >