A recent Businessweek article reports that the percentage of older students at Harvard’s MBA program has been on the rise in the last two years. The admissions committee’s last blog post listed student data for the last three years according to the year of B.A. completion. The data show that the percentage of students who received their B.A. at least six years prior to their acceptance to HBS rose from 20.8% in 2011 to 22.9% in 2012 and 23.3% this year.
The most significant increase was among students who completed their B.A. ten years ago or more, from 12 students in 2010 to 23 in 2013. Harvard’s director of admissions claims that the trend does not reflect a preference by the school for older candidates, but rather the result of weighing each candidate individually.
The relative increase of older students at Harvard actually comes on the tails of a trend in the opposite direction among the overall MBA candidate pool. According to GMAT data, the largest increase in test-takers was recorded in the under-24 age group, with the 24-30 age group rising by 6.5% in 2011-12 (2013 applicants). In the 31-39 age group, an increase of 5.2% was recorded in 2011-12, and the over-40 age group showed no change.
And what about other schools? At Chicago, for example, about one out of every four students embarking upon MBA studies in 2013 has career experience of six years or more, with eight students bearing ten or more. Even so, the school has no intended purpose of increasing its number of older students, and the average age at Chicago has remained 28 for a number of years. Stacey Kole, deputy dean at CBS insists that there is no age limit and“if you have eight-plus years of experience and you think the MBA has passed you by, it hasn’t. If you’re a good fit for the school, you can get in.”
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