HBS’s 2+2 Program Doesn’t Always Add Up to Four

Harvard Business School

HBS continues to tweak the 2+2 program

When Harvard Business School began offering Harvard seniors the opportunity to apply to HBS, but commit to spending two years post-grad in the workforce before starting their MBAs, the plan seemed pretty straightforward—two years of work, and then two years of business school. Over the past few years, however, Harvard has learned to relax those requirements a bit, as many admitted in the 2+2 Program defer their enrollment, choosing instead to spend more time in the working world first.

As The Harvard Crimson reports, of the first class of 106 accepted in 2008, only 65 are matriculating on time, with 40 deferring, and one who dropped out. More than half of the next class has postponed matriculation. Harvard doesn’t seem fazed by these deferrals, as more time gaining work experience before pursuing an MBA isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

And with the 2+2 Program, the HBS ‘cohorts,’ as they’re called, have had strong representation form Harvard College: Out of 106 students in the 2013 cohort, 22 were Harvard undergrads, with 27 out of 115 the next year, and about 20 out of 100 the following year.

The 2+2 Program also attracts those with more technical experience, and “the Business School aims to fill at least half of each cohort with students who have backgrounds in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.”

HBS is still tweaking the program. In its first year, students could receive assistance in their job search through career counseling and a recruiting partner system, but now they must find jobs on their own. For those who have succeeded, it’s not always easy to turn around two years later and return to Cambridge. HBS is aware of the difficulties involved, and evaluates on a “case-by-case basis when it goes beyond the three years.” Those who do return, however, emerge four years after college with work experience under their belt, plus an MBA from Harvard Business School—not bad…

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