Prospective Students© Em Toshack
Applying to business school is a daunting process - and involves a substantial investment of time, energy, and resources - whether you are gay or straight. We know that LGBT applicants and potential applicants may have unique concerns and questions. We will address some concerns that many of us had as applicants just a year or two ago.
Should I apply?
The LGBT community has historically been underrepresented in MBA programs and in business, but with each passing year, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals continue to increase our numbers in business schools and in leadership positions in companies and other organizations. We hope that you will apply, enroll, and be out at Harvard Business School.
Be part of the important progress being made every day as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals become more visible at leading business schools, in senior positions at firms ranging from technology start-ups to hedge funds to non-profits, and in their communities more broadly. As an LGBT member of the HBS community, you can have a dramatic impact on your classmates from around the world and help shape the opinions of your classmates and future business leaders.
Being LGBT at Harvard Business School is fun and intellectually engaging, will position you for many many outstanding professional opportunities, and will help you to make important contributions to the economy, the LGBT community, and to the world.
Should I be "out" in my application?
In a word, Yes. But, really, it is entirely your choice whether to be out in your application, and you should be comfortable with whatever decision you make.
The MBA admissions process is about a lot more than just GPA and GMAT scores: admissions officers want to learn about you as a person. Many LGBT applicants feel that they can present themselves more fully when they are open about their sexuality and/or gender identity.
The Admissions Office is not only very gay- and trans-friendly, they're as excited as we are to increase the LGBT presence in the student body. That said, there are no quotas at HBS of any kind.
If you have volunteered at LGBT-focused organizations or served on LGBT-related committees or boards, for instance, it is probably to your benefit to include these in your application, in the same way that all applicants discuss their involvement in various business and non-profit organizations. These activities and leadership positions demonstrate your passion and your abilities and help distinguish you from other applicants. To leave out these important experiences could hurt your application. Moreover, it is perfectly appropriate - and, again, probably advisable - for essays to reflect who you are as a whole person, including your sexuality and gender identity/expression, if you choose to do so.
If I am out on my application, must I be out to my classmates and professors?
No, definitely not.
HBS admissions files are not shared with faculty or students. They are not kept after you have enrolled. While we hope most students will choose to be out on campus, you could elect to be out in your application and make a separate decision whether and when to be out to your professors or section-mates, for instance.
What does HBS MBA Admissions say about the role of diversity in the admissions process?
The HBS Admissions website says, "Our selection process emphasizes leadership potential, strong academic ability, and personal qualities and characteristics. Moreover, the MBA Admissions Board aspires to create a class with diverse backgrounds and global perspectives to add to the richness of both the HBS learning experience and the HBS community broadly."
It's true - it's a diverse world, and future business and non-profit leaders can only benefit from the perspectives that students coming from all sorts of backgrounds bring to the school.
Does HBS Admissions keep track of LGBT applicants?
No, HBS does not currently keep track of applicants' sexuality.
However, you do have an opportunity to "opt in" to information about LGBT programs when you fill out your information request on the HBS admissions website. We strongly recommend that you do so to keep updated on updates and events that HBS Admissions has specific to LGBT students.
Are there admissions events especially for LGBT applicants?
Yes! MBA Admissions and the LGBTSA host other outreach events in many cities. Sometimes admissions officers attend these sessions; others are hosted less formally by students and alums. Check the admissions website for upcoming events. You can also select to be notified about upcoming LGBT events by clicking on the link to "Introduce Yourself."
Once or twice a year, MBA Admissions and our club co-host an all-day LGBT Open House just for LGBT prospective students. It's a terrific way to learn about the school, if you can make it to campus at that time.
Finally, for admitted LGBT students, the LGBTSA hosts a welcome event during Admitted Students Weekend.
As a prospective student, how can I learn more about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender at HBS?
We have assembled some frequently asked questions about being LGBT at HBS.
Also, feel free to contact the leadership of the HBS LGBT Student Association (LGBTSA) here with any questions. All inquiries will be held in confidence and will not be shared with MBA Admissions. Unfortunately, we have no influence over admissions decisions, so we can't "put in a good word for you."
Are there other ways to connect with current LGBT students?
If you plan to apply to business school, you might consider attending the Reaching Out Conference, a popular and fun LGBT MBA conference held every year in a different city. The conference is targeted at current MBA students as well as prospective MBAs. Numerous HBS students (and some alums!) attended the conference each year.