Wednesday, July 1, 2009

HBS Class of 2011 profile (Military)


HBS announced the tentative Class of 2011 profile and I want to take this opportunity to discuss some specifics that would apply to military candidates since in the past most of that information has been largely a mystery. But first, some general observations:
  • Class size was increased from about 900 to 942. Does this mean all previous classes will soon refer to themselves as the "last hard class" to get into? Did we have lower standards? Well, applications also went up, so the total acceptance rate for the class of 2010 and 2011 are identical (12%). It will be interesting to see if this is a temporary or permanent change to the HBS class size.
  • Almost half of those accepted (47%) finished undergrad within the last 3 years. HBS is only getting younger - last year it was 40%. See my post on ages at HBS for more info.
Now to the military profiles...

I did some of my own research to account for the sources of successful military applicants. For the purposes of these numbers, I'm not counting non-US military personnel. Some countries have compulsory military duty, and I think that they may warrant a different data set for proper interpretation. So let's just discuss US military for now. There are about 31 US military MBA candidates (3%) that make up the class. Most of them have a total of 4-5 years (initial obligation) in the Armed Forces. Here are some figures:
  • Army: 13 (42%)
  • Navy: 9 (29%)
  • Marines: 6 (19%)
  • Air Force: 2 (6%)
  • Coast Guard: 1 (4%)
So that definitely dispels the myth that HBS loves "McKinsey, Mormons, and Marines." I would also speculate that the Air Force numbers are relatively low because of longer obligations for many officers (re: older at time of application). Now let's look at source of commissioning (all 31 were officers):
  • US Military Academy: 7 (23%)
  • US Naval Academy: 6 (19%)
  • US Air Force Academy: 1 (4%)
  • US Coast Guard Academy: 1 (4%)
  • Non-service academy: 16 (52%)
So this also dispels the myth that West Pointers dominate in admissions, though they do have a strong showing.

Now let's look at the military background. I'm going to introduce some of my own non-doctrinal definitions for this. I have three categories: Combat Arms (Infantry, Armor, Special Forces), Combat Support (Artillery, direct air support), General Support (everything else, such as intel, signal, logistics, etc). I know some people will have a problem with this ground force biased definition, but hey... I'm not writing doctrine here.
  • Combat Arms: 6 (19%)
  • Combat Support: 3 (11%)
  • General Support: 22 (71%)
In reality most former military HBS students are not of the more exotic flavor (SEALs, Green Berets, fighter pilots, etc.) but actually rather representative of the wide variety of professions within the military.

Please note that NONE of these numbers are official HBS numbers, nor are they guaranteed to be 100% accurate. There may be 1 or 2 military guys that I missed when compiling the statistics. Nonetheless, the numbers should be of value to every curious military applicant out there wondering where s/he fits in. And that's another note; all 31 officers are male.

Final note: the picture in this blog obviously has nothing to do with HBS. It is however one of my favorite pictures of perhaps the greatest "class" of US military leaders ever assembled for a photograph.