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Harvard Business School Scraps Application Fees for Military Personnel

Active-duty military personnel applying to Harvard Business School will have a US$250 application fee waived

Harvard Business School (HBS) is scrapping its US$250 MBA application fee for all active-duty military personnel.

While not a significant amount of money, it highlights the lengths to which US business schools will go to attract military personnel, and is the latest in a long line of initiatives to target military applicants.

The application fee waiver also reflects the value HBS places on having military voices in the classroom, given the significant leadership skills and experience they bring from their time in service.

“Military students bring a unique set of experiences” says HBS admissions director

“Our military students bring a unique set of experiences to the class discussions at Harvard Business School,” said Chad Losee, managing director of admissions and financial aid. “Leadership is at the core of what we teach and these students almost always have faced real-life situations where leadership and judgment have been of paramount importance. This waiver helps to ensure their presence in the classroom is stronger than ever going forward.”

In the US, a growing number of veterans have entered the ranks of business school as military budgets have been cut and since the country started its process of withdrawal from Afghanistan. Those veterans see MBA programs as a way to transition between military and civilian life, and launch careers in a diverse range of industries.

“I saw an MBA as a bridge between being a leader in the military to being a leader in the business world,” said Rebecca Greenbaum, a graduating Harvard Business School MBA who was previously a nuclear engineer officer on the USS Carl Vinson. “After coming to HBS, I now have the confidence to transfer my skills to the private sector. What’s at stake may be different, but I hope the impact will be just as great.”

Initiatives designed to help military personnel transition to civilian life

Business schools across North America are increasingly rolling out initiatives to attract military personnel. NYU Stern last year created the Fertitta Veterans summer program exclusively for US military veteran and active-duty students to get an early start on selected coursework, before being fully integrated into the MBA. The program was launched at the same time as a scholarship fund with the power to cut the annual tuition of around 20 admitted military MBA students at NYU Stern from US$67,000 to US$30,000 each year.

The same month, Dartmouth Tuck launched the ‘Next Step: Transition to Business’ certificate course, designed for military veterans and elite athletes looking to make a move into the business world. The course lasts two and half weeks and costs US$500.

At Harvard Business School, application fees are used to help cover the administrative costs associated with processing the 9,759 MBA applications the school receives each year (as per its latest entering class). The new waiver has been made possible by a generous commitment from Michael Zak, an MBA alumnus who served on active duty in the US Marine Corps from 1975 to 1979 before enrolling at the business school. 

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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