01 Jun 2016

The Difference Fellowships Make

Re: Felix Oberholzer-Gee


The Transformational Power of Diversity

Each year the School welcomes more than 900 MBA candidates from all over the globe. These dynamic young people hail from a remarkable range of industries, regions, and life experiences. Some are the first in their families to have graduated from college; for others, coming to Harvard is their first trip outside their home region. Some have started their own businesses, while others have worked in nonprofits.

A diversity of students can matriculate at HBS because of the School’s need-blind admissions policy, which enables applicants to be considered on their merits rather than their ability to afford the cost of an HBS education. The resulting richness of perspectives is what causes the one-of-a-kind classroom experience that is a hallmark of HBS.

Simply put, need-blind admissions would not be possible without fellowships, and fellowships would not be possible without support from alumni and friends. Over the years, some 600 individuals, groups, and organizations have established fellowship funds, and every year, thousands of donors support fellowships through the HBS Fund for Leadership and Innovation. Their motivations are as broad as they are imaginable: showing appreciation for having received a fellowship themselves, honoring someone who played a key role in their lives, or celebrating the educational value of diversity, for example.

In addition to enabling HBS to admit students based on their leadership potential, fellowships make it possible for graduates to realize that potential. An example is the School’s summer fellows program, which gives students a chance to take jobs in roles or regions where compensation may be low. Fellowship recipients, as well as those who choose to join selected professions eligible for HBS’s loan-forgiveness programs, can make career choices based on their passions rather than their ability to repay debt.

The goal of the fellowship program is simple: recruit the most talented people and expand their sense of the careers they can pursue — whether by giving them opportunities to interact with women and men from different backgrounds, introducing them to career paths they might not have considered, or enabling them to make choices based on their aspirations. The tremendous impact that HBS alumni have around the world is living proof that fellowships work.

(photo by Casey Atkins)

“Our pedagogy works because people see things differently, they have different experiences, and they bring different talents to bear. Fellowships create this diversity.”

Professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Senior Associate Dean, Chair, MBA Program


Empowering MBA Students


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