As the graduate business school of Harvard University, Harvard Business School (HBS) offers a host of doctoral programs, executive education programs and online courses, in addition to its respected Master of Business Administration (MBA) full-time residential program. The school’s mission is to ‘educate leaders who make a difference in the world.’
Harvard Business School’s mission statement is one loaded with meaning, pointing to the intentionality with which the institution approaches its role. For starters, it sees leaders as individuals who have competence and character – competence akin to a general manager and the character to distinguish between self-centred and self-interested. Leaders who make a difference, according to the school, focus on creating real value for their communities and only claim it after making it happen. The last component of the mission, ‘in the world’, describes the fast-changing, dynamic environment that requires leaders who will step up to the challenge of addressing its most urgent problems.
The school was established in 1908 as the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration with a student population of 33 regular and 47 special students. In 1922, the school established its Doctoral Program while also launching the Harvard Business Review. After a couple of years, the case method of teaching was introduced, a pioneering move at the time since it had similarities to the case approach employed in Harvard’s legal education. The case method typically comes up with case studies of real-life situations in organisations and requires students to put themselves in a manager’s shoes to analyse and provide solutions to the issues. 1924 was also the year HBS built its campus.
Other key years in Harvard Business School’s timeline are 1945, when the Advanced Management Program – the first executive education program – was held. When it was established, HBS only took in male students. After taking over the administration of the Training Course in Personnel Administration from Radcliffe College in 1954, however, the school started business training for women, which led to the acceptance of women into the HBS MBA program in 1959. A vote to allow women direct entry into the MBA program was held in December 1962, and in September 1963, the first women applied for the program directly.
From the start, HBS enjoyed good relationships with the business world. Many of its alumni are established business leaders from countries around the globe. Norwegian business executive Ragnar Horn is one of many who attained an MBA from the school. Also, Mr. Horn is a member of one of the school’s donor alumni associations, the Global Leaders Circle, and regularly provides financial support.
In June 2019, Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and Harvard Business School announced the commencement of a joint master’s degree program called the MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program. The program takes two years and is expected to start in August 2020. Students who complete the program will be conferred with a Master of Science from GSAS and a Master of Business Administration from HBS.
The joint degree program provides students with knowledge about biotechnology, life sciences and management, enabling them to understand how science and business intersect for society’s benefit. The curriculum emphasises learning about the sustainable business models that will lead to discoveries of new drugs and therapeutics.
Potential candidates that the new program is aiming to attract are students with undergraduate degrees in medicine or life sciences, or extensive working experience in biotechnology. Students who lack a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree will also be considered provided they have significant preparation in life sciences – including laboratory experience – or have pursued advanced courses in life sciences. These requirements will be assessed in addition to those of the HBS MBA program. In its first year, the program will likely have between seven to ten students.