Harvard MBA Essay 2024-2025 Analysis, Tips, and Framework for Success

By admitStreet Team

In June 2024, Harvard Business School made a significant change to its MBA admissions process by introducing updated essay prompts, marking the first major revision since 2016.

The previous 900-word, open-ended essay prompt, “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”, has been replaced with three shorter prompts. This change reflects the new admissions director’s vision and the decision to update the evaluation criteria for HBS applicants.

The updated approach emphasizes qualities such as business acumen, leadership focus, and a growth-oriented mindset. It encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds to apply, recognizing that a traditional business background is not a prerequisite for admission to HBS.

In this year’s application, candidates are invited to respond to three concise essays that align with these criteria. This provides an opportunity for applicants to delve into meaningful or formative experiences that they may not have fully explored elsewhere in their application.

In this article, we analyze and explore the essence of these essays, offering insights into what HBS wants from each of the 3 essays,  a framework you can follow to write these essays, and helpful tips for writing.

Harvard MBA Essay Prompts

Business Minded Essay

Please reflect on how your experiences have influenced your career choices and aspirations and the impact you strive to make on the businesses, organizations, and communities you plan to serve. (Text box, 300 words maximum)

Leadership Focused Essay

What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what kind of leader you want to become? (Text box, 250 words maximum)

Growth Oriented Essay

Curiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. (Text box, 250 words maximum)

Business Minded Essay

What HBS wants from this essay

Harvard Business School wants to see how your past experiences have shaped your career ambitions. They’re interested in understanding the key moments and influences that have ignited your passion for your chosen path. How have these experiences molded the professional you are today, and how do they connect to your future aspirations?

How to write the business minded essay

Writing the business-minded essay for Harvard Business School’s application requires a focused approach to your past and present experiences, rather than overly emphasizing future aspirations.

Here’s a structured framework to guide you:


Start with a brief introduction to set the stage for your essay. Mention that you will discuss pivotal experiences that have shaped your career direction and leadership style.

Example of Influential Experience

  • Choose a Specific Experience: Select one significant experience from your background that has influenced your career choices and leadership development. This could be from your academic, professional, extracurricular, or personal life. However, you should prioritize professional/business experience given the theme of this essay prompt.
  • Describe the Experience: Provide a detailed description of the experience. Talk about the context, your role, and the impact it had on you and others. For instance, if you led a project at work, describe how you identified a critical issue within your team or organization and spearheaded an initiative to address it. Explain the steps you took to implement changes, the challenges you faced, and the measurable outcomes that resulted from your efforts. Highlight how this experience influenced your professional growth and how it shaped your approach to leadership and problem-solving.
  • Highlight Your Leadership Traits: Reflect on the leadership traits you demonstrated during this experience. Did you show initiative, inspire others, or innovate? How did these traits contribute to your success in the role?

Impact on Others

  • Specific Impact: Discuss the specific impact your actions had on others. This could include mentoring someone, driving organizational growth, or fostering teamwork.
  • Example of Personal Growth: Share how this experience contributed to your personal growth as a leader. Did it challenge you to develop new skills or perspectives? How did it shape your approach to leadership?

Connection to Career Aspirations

  • Link to Career Goals: Connect this experience to your current career aspirations. Explain how it has influenced your professional decisions and why it is pivotal to your future plans.
  • Ambitions and Impact: Discuss your ambitions for making a broader impact in your chosen field or community. Be specific about the positive changes you envision and how your leadership will contribute to these goals.

    Tips for Writing

    • Start Early and Revise: Give yourself ample time to brainstorm, draft, and revise your essays. Early drafts often evolve significantly through revision.
    • Be Authentic: Share genuine experiences that reflect who you are and what drives you.
    • Focus on Specificity: Use concrete examples and specific details to illustrate your points.
    • Avoid Overgeneralization: Stay focused on the chosen experience and its direct relevance to your career narrative.
    • Connection to HBS: Draw connections between your goals and HBS’s educational offerings, community, and values. Show how HBS is integral to your future success.

    Check out the application deadlines and essay topics of top business schools in the US, Europe, and Asia

    Leadership-Focused Essay

    What experiences have shaped who you are, how you invest in others, and what kind of leader you want to become? (up to 250 words)

    What HBS wants from this essay

    HBS wants to see how you’ve actually made a difference. Think about it like this: they’re interested in how you’ve been able to inspire others and drive real change. Maybe you’ve led a project that transformed how your team works together, or perhaps you spearheaded a community initiative that made a lasting impact. What were the specific actions you took, and what was the outcome? That’s what they’re keen to hear about.

    How to write the leadership-focused essay

    Crafting a compelling leadership-focused essay for Harvard Business School (HBS) requires a strategic approach that highlights impactful experiences, demonstrates your ability to inspire change, and articulates your vision for future leadership. Here’s a framework to help you structure your essay effectively:

    Introduction to Impactful Experiences

    Begin by introducing a specific experience that has shaped your leadership journey. This could be from your professional life, extracurricular activities, or community involvement. Highlight the context, your role, and the challenge or opportunity you faced.

    Inspiring Change

    Describe how you mobilized or inspired change in this particular situation. Whether it was through innovative thinking, collaborative efforts, or strategic decision-making, emphasize your proactive approach and the actions you took to achieve results.

    Result and Impact

    Detail the tangible or intangible outcomes of your leadership efforts. Discuss the positive changes that resulted from your actions, such as increased morale, improved team dynamics, or strategic shifts that enhanced performance or achieved goals.

    Linking to Future Leadership

    Connect your past experiences and their impact to your future aspirations as a leader. Explain how these experiences have influenced your leadership philosophy and shaped the type of leader you aspire to become. Focus on specific traits or skills you aim to develop further at HBS to amplify your impact.

    Tips for Writing

    • Be Specific and Authentic: Choose experiences that truly reflect your values and leadership style.
    • Show Cause and Effect: Clearly demonstrate the cause-and-effect relationship between your actions and their outcomes.
    • Highlight Personal Growth: Share insights into how these experiences have shaped your leadership capabilities and aspirations.

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    Growth Oriented Essay

    Curiosity can be seen in many ways. Please share an example of how you have demonstrated curiosity and how that has influenced your growth. (250 words maximum)

    What HBS wants from this essay?

    HBS seeks candidates who embody curiosity—a quality fundamental to their MBA experience. The essay invites you to narrate an instance where your curiosity sparked a transformative journey, whether through a hobby, intellectual pursuit, or personal endeavor.

    How to write the growth-oriented essay?

    This essay provides a platform for applicants to showcase how their curiosity has driven personal and professional development. Here’s how you can effectively structure and approach your response:

    Introduction to Curiosity

    Begin by introducing the area of your life where curiosity has been most compelling. Whether it’s a hobby like mastering a musical instrument or a deep dive into a cultural practice, highlight the passion and dedication you’ve invested.

    Example of Curiosity in Action

    Share a specific example that illustrates your pursuit of knowledge. Describe a pivotal moment where your curiosity led you to explore new ideas, challenge assumptions, or change perspectives. This could stem from an academic course, a professional project, or a personal experience.

    Impact on Growth

    Discuss how this curiosity-driven journey has influenced your personal and professional growth. Reflect on the skills or insights gained, and how they align with your aspirations for an MBA at HBS.

    Connection to HBS

    Tie your growth narrative back to HBS’s learning environment. Explain how your demonstrated curiosity will enrich classroom discussions and contribute to the case study method, highlighting unique perspectives and insights.

    Tips for Writing

    • Be Specific and Personal: Choose an example that resonates deeply with you and allows you to showcase your genuine passion and commitment.
    • Show Transformation: Emphasize how your curiosity has not only broadened your knowledge but also catalyzed personal growth, demonstrating adaptability and openness to new ideas.
    • Link to Future Goals: Connect your growth story to your career aspirations. Illustrate how the skills and lessons learned through your curiosity-driven pursuits will benefit your future endeavors post-MBA.

    Final Thoughts

    As you navigate the process of preparing your application essays for Harvard Business School’s 2025 intake, remember that authenticity and introspection are your greatest allies. 

    The Business Minded essay invites you to connect the dots between your past experiences and future aspirations, emphasizing the impact you aim to make. In the Leadership Focused essay, delve into the experiences that have shaped your leadership style and aspirations, demonstrating your commitment to personal growth and mentorship. 

    Lastly, in the Growth Oriented essay, showcase your insatiable curiosity and how it has catalyzed your development, reinforcing your readiness to contribute actively to HBS’s dynamic learning environment.

    Craft each essay with clarity, coherence, and a genuine narrative that highlights your unique strengths and ambitions. Your journey and the lessons learned along the way will not only set you apart but also illustrate your potential to thrive at Harvard Business School and beyond. Good luck as you articulate your story and aspirations through these transformative essays.

    Let’s get you into Harvard MBA Program

    Are you aiming to secure a spot in the prestigious Harvard MBA program? With our personalized guidance, in-depth feedback, and proven strategies, we’ll help you highlight your unique strengths and align your story with Harvard’s values.

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