Are You Too Old For HBS?

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: December 17, 2013)

As a 32 year old MBA applicant, I was extremely concerned that my age would prevent me from attending a top business school. Although my stats were quite strong, several admissions “experts” almost convinced me that a candidate well into his 30s had almost no chance of getting into a top MBA program in the US.

Baker Library at night

Harvard Business School – Baker Library at night

Not only did I prove these people wrong by getting into HBS, but many other students entered the program with 8+ years of professional experience (47 students to be precise, close to 5% of our class). Some of them had served in the military, but many others had worked for more traditional employers. Our most senior student was a former university professor, well into his fifties.

A few days ago, the admissions director at HBS released some stats about the last 3 incoming classes (2013 to 2015). It turns out that the class of 2015 will welcome 64 students with more than 8 years of work experience. 23 of them completed their undergrad education 10 or more years ago. These numbers are significant, as we’re not talking about just a couple of exceptions.

Nitin Nohria, Harvard Business School’s new dean, has done a fantastic job increasing diversity in the classroom. Admitting older applicants seems to fit that goal. If you are able to demonstrate a willingness to learn and perform academically, have valuable experience and a professional network that your classmates can benefit from, and are able to demonstrate rapid career progression or outstanding professional achievements, then the doors of HBS and other top business schools definitely remain open to you. Don’t let others tell you what you can or cannot do, just submit your application!

Want to assess your odds at Harvard, London Business School, MIT, or other top international MBA programs? Try our algorithm today (it’s free), orĀ email us to request a free consultation (please attach your CV and test scores, and mention your list of target schools).

Have you been admitted to a top MBA program as an “older” applicant? Please do not hesitate to share your experience or advice in the comment section below.

HBS age chart

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