MBA Grades Question

grades harvard HBS MBA
New answer 13 hours ago
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 06, 2022

Dear Community,

Given the fact that Harvard Business School does not have a grade non-disclosure policy, could low grades have a negative impact on future hiring at MBB? Is it enough for an MBB applicant to get all 2 grades at HBS to successfully pass the CV screening process and get the job?

For reference. HBS courses are scored on a 1, 2, 3, and 4 basis. A 1 grade is the highest, and only 5-15% of people get this grade. About 80% of the class gets a 2 grade, and 5%-10% of the class gets a 3 or 4.

Many thanks for your help!

(edited)

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Ian
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replied on Aug 07, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

There's a scale here. So, great grades will help, bad grades will hurt. How much? Depends on your overall resume.

Importantly, given that almost every other MBA has non-grade disclosure, I think it's safe to assume MBB won't “expect” you to put your grade. If you have a bad grade, just leave it out of your resume! If you have a great grade, include it.

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Anonymous A on Aug 07, 2022

Sounds reasonable! Thank you!

Sofia
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replied on Aug 06, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% success rate | Discounted sessions in Aug 2022

Hello,

MBA grades are significantly less important than the event of you actually getting an MBA. So, if the grades are sufficient to allow you to graduate, it shouldn't matter much. Grades far below the average may prompt a few questions, but if you are talking about one or two grades below a 2 with an otherwise decent record, it should not be an issue.

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Anonymous A on Aug 06, 2022

Many thanks for your insights!

Anonymous updated the answer on Aug 06, 2022

Dear Anonymous A,

The answer to your question is: it really depends.

You have helpfully defined the grade bands used at Harvard Business School, so one can easily infer that a grade of 3 is bad and that a grade of 4 is very bad.

We can also infer that as Harvard Business School is one of the world's prime destinations for MBB recruiting, that the assigned campus recruiters will be intimately acquainted with this ranking system. You can therefore expect that they have some loose internal guidelines on how to screen out CVs on a grade basis.

In your case, let us assume you have taken just as many classes as the average applicant from Harvard Business School to MBB when you apply. Well, that presents a healthy distribution to review:

+ Are you scoring 3s on only a handful of your courses? If so, not so bad.

+ Does that handful line up with the normal distribution of your class at Harvard Business School, or is your entire transcript a left-tail outlier in 3s and 4s? If so, not good. 

+ Are you getting 3s and 4s in flagship classes that MBB historically cares about? If so, very bad. 

And, these sorts of rhetoricals go on and on.
 

In general, if your grade profile matches ~80% of the class (including with a few in 3s, but definitely no 4s), your CV will not be penalised at the CV review stage in a normal recruiting year.

That said, once you are post-CV review stage and you are invited in for tests/games and, hopefully, interviews, your suitability will be assessed solely on the merits of your performance and your CV will cease to be an issue. This, I can attest from experience, is the case at McKinsey. I should further add (to give you complete context), that if a CV is rated strongly due to outstanding grades and that candidate is cleared through but somehow stumbles in the first round of interviews, that candidate will also be assessed solely on the merits of their performance and will not be cleared through. There will be no consideration given to how fantastic the grades were, and that will be that. I would assume the same applied at BCG and Bain, but cannot say with certainty.

One important caveat: the selectivity in the MBB recruiting process is so high at the early stages, that one could fill quotas exclusively with people who have mostly excellent and above average grades making it all the harder for people with mostly average grades to be considered.

All the best.

(edited)

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Anonymous A on Aug 06, 2022

Thank you!

Adi
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replied 13 hours ago
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Anything that's worth showing off must be on your CV. If not, leave it out. MBA grades are not an overly important thing, so dont overthink this. I would recommend leaving them out all together from your CV and stick to 1-2 key achievements worth showing off from your MBA.

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Anonymous B replied on Aug 07, 2022

Another big factor within your overall profile is likely to be your pre-MBA work experience and how relevant it is towards the role you are applying. Consulting firms would typically value experience in any of the major industries they are serving

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Francesco
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replied on Aug 07, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: Given the fact that Harvard Business School does not have a grade non-disclosure policy, could low grades have a negative impact on future hiring at MBB?

Most candidates just put Dean’s List for MBAs when they get it.

Unless you have to disclose the GPA of your MBA in your application or you decide to put it anyway in the CV, I can’t see how they would even know your GPA.

If they ask you during the interview by chance (which would be quite unusual), this is not going to have a relevant impact as well, as you have already passed the CV screening.

So overall, I would not worry about it.

Incidentally, you can compensate low GPA with referrals in any case. You can find more on that at the link below:

 How to Get an MBB Referral

Best,

Francesco

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Ashwin
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replied on Aug 07, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

Hey there, 

You should be fine, as apart from grades MBBs will also look for other achievements while determining the initial short list 

Thanks 

Ashwin 

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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