“Diversity” is one of the defining keywords when we talk about business schools, including HBS; and there are so many aspects of diversity: nationality, gender, business background, undergraduate major, etc.
With this definition in mind – how diverse is HBS? According to a survey, HBS’s international student ratio ranks in the middle of the pack among the top US business schools. Considering the total number of students (about 900), more than 300 international students come to HBS every year and it is said that they represent about 60 countries.
However, what does “international student” actually mean? At HBS it means the nationality on their passport is other than the U.S. but does not necessarily mean that they are not native English speakers. The reality is a great deal of international students have lived in U.S. at some point in their lives and many have graduated from American universities.
Therefore, the number of what I would term “genuine” international students (students who have never lived or studied in the U.S) is quite small. As a matter of fact, the HBS International Transition (HIT) program for international students starts tomorrow, but there are only 23 participants this year (2% of the total!).
Now this may appear to be a lack of diversity to some, but considering the nature of the case study method, such quality control is necessary.
Anyway… I guess the upshot of all this is – it’s really, really (and getting more and more) difficult for “genuine” international students to get into HBS.