Harvard MBA: Costs And Calculations - University of the People (2023)

Harvard is known as one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the world. As one of the United States’ Ivy League schools, getting accepted into this school is a major achievement for anyone who is able to do it. And earning your degree at this school is something to be extremely proud of. But the Harvard MBA cost alone may deter students from getting their degree altogether.

What is a Harvard MBA?

The Harvard Business School offers several academic programs in business to students who have demonstrated academic excellence, persistence, and have set themselves apart from others. And, of course, those who want to go on to work in the business world.

One of the academic programs offered by the Harvard Business School is an MBA or a Master’s in Business Administration. According to Harvard, this is a “two-year, full-time residential program with a focus on real-world practice,” where students can come together to harness the strength, skills, and confidence to combat issues that matter around the world.

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In the Harvard MBA program, you’ll focus on six principles that make this program — and school — stand out from others:

  • Global Intelligence
  • Learning in Practice
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Residential Learning Community
  • Alumni Relationships
  • Publications & Resources

How much does a Harvard MBA Cost?

Getting into the Harvard MBA program is no doubt a major accomplishment, but the admissions process is just one of many obstacles standing in the way of students actually walking away with a degree. That’s because, like many other programs of higher education in the United States, the Harvard MBA cost alone can pose a barrier.

What exactly are the costs? Let’s break it down.

Important Annual Cost of Attendance Details

The cost of tuition for the Harvard MBA program for the 2020-2021 year is $73,440.

However, this does not include the other costs required for someone to be able to live while they attend school. There are many other costs to consider, and Harvard does an excellent job of looking at the overall cost of attendance in order to provide a better idea of what students will have to pay.


When you attend school (in-person) you will have to live nearby the campus in order to be physically present for your classes. At Harvard, there are nine months of classes, and students can opt to live on campus for these nine months.

However, if you live off-campus in your own apartment, you will have to pay the additional three months when you’re not in school since a lease is typically a full year (12 months). Harvard predicts that the cost of rent and utilities is $1,570 a month on average. Though living off-campus can sometimes be more affordable, you’ll have to do the calculations to see what comes out to be cheaper.

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Of course, an easy way to mitigate these costs is to attend school online (if you already have a place you call home).

Federal Student Aid and Financial Assistance

One way to help afford the costs of attending a Harvard MBA program is by receiving federal student aid. This can be in the form of grants, a work-study, scholarships, or loans. Eligibility requirements and how much aid a student can get depend on several factors. There can also be gifts from donors and family members, as well as outside sources.

Health Coverage

Health insurance is required for students at Harvard. The HUHS Student Health Fee (SHF) is $1,240 for the 2020-2021 school year, and the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) is $3,922 for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to the Harvard website, the SHF is mandated for all students and may not be waived, whereas the SHIP may be waived if you have proof of comparable health coverage. For instance, some students may still have health insurance through their parents, a spouse, or a job.

Cost of Living, Food, and Other Expenses

Additionally, students will have to pay to live while they are in school. These living expenses are projected to be $15,820 on average for the nine months you’ll be in school, and can include your food, clothing, etc. This does not include school supplies, like a laptop, which can be several thousand dollars extra.

Additional Optional Activities

The cost of attendance for the Harvard MBA program does not include optional activities that students may want to participate in while at school. For instance, if you want to travel, volunteer, engage in social events, etc., then you will have to determine what the costs will be and how you are going to cover those additional costs.

Additionally, remember that this outline for the cost of attendance for a Harvard MBA is for nine months, and this is a two-year program. The costs may change in the following school year, but you can assume that you’ll be paying these costs again — if not more — for the second year.

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The Rising MBA Tuition at Harvard Business School

If these are just the costs for the 2020-2021 school year, what about the 2021-2022 school year, or the school years thereafter if you’re planning on applying for the Harvard MBA program a few years down the road? It’s hard to determine these costs, because of the rising MBA tuition costs at Harvard Business School.

According to Poets & Quants, the average annual cost of tuition for the Harvard MBA program was $30,050 just 15 years ago, and it has grown every year. Just between 2016 and 2017, there was a 13.1% increase. The good news is that the amount of scholarships students receive has gone up parallel to these rising costs.

2020-2021 Harvard MBA Program Cost of Attendance

For the 2020-2021 school year, the total cost of a Harvard MBA for a single person is projected to be $111,102 total. This includes tuition, health insurance, rent, cost of living, course and program material fees, and other supplies.

What is the True Cost of a Harvard MBA?

The true cost of a Harvard MBA is not certain, as it will be different for each student. But, if we take the average total cost of attendance — $111,102 — and multiply it by two for the two-year program, you get $222,204. While this is not necessarily the true Harvard MBA cost, it’s a close estimate.

Less Than Half of Harvard Students Pay the Actual Cost

As mentioned earlier, the good news is that if you are in need of financial assistance, you probably won’t pay the true cost of a Harvard MBA. About half of all Harvard Business School students receive scholarships, and on average, these scholarships amount to $40,000 a year on average. This is not including other means of funding and financial aid.

Harvard Merit-Based Admissions, Need-Based Scholarships

Students who are accepted into Harvard Business School based on their merit may still need help affording their attendance. Among the many scholarship and grant opportunities available to eligible students, the most prominent is the need-based HBS scholarship which you can receive the amount mentioned above ($40,000 on average) if you are eligible. This does not have to be repaid.

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Outside Means of Funding

If this scholarship is still not enough to cover the cost of attendance, students can seek out outside means of funding. Students may decide to cover the remaining costs with a loan that will need to be paid back, or help from other scholarship and grant programs that exist worldwide. These may come from civic organizations, your parental employers, the G.I. Bill, and ROTC, just to name a few.

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Is the Harvard MBA Cost Worth It?

Even if you are able to fund your Harvard MBA, will employers actually care that you have this designation? It’s worth considering what the numbers have to say before investing not just your money, but your time.

According to the Data Statistics from Harvard Business School’s Class of 2019, graduates earned $148,750 as a median salary with a $30,000 median signing bonus.

Comparatively, students who graduated with an MBA from any school, according to the Business School Hiring Report: Corporate Recruiters Survey 2019 by GMAC, said “Adjusted for inflation, the median annual base starting salary US companies will offer new MBA hires in 2019 is the highest on record (US$115,000).”

So, while it seems that Harvard MBA graduates make more on average than MBA graduates in general, it’s really up to you to decide whether or not a Harvard MBA is worth it.

With an MBA, you can still have a promising future with a high salary, and it doesn’t mean you have to have “Harvard” written on your degree. And, you don’t need to spend thousands — even hundreds of thousands — to get an MBA as you would have to at Harvard, even with a scholarship and aid provided. You can still get an MBA for much cheaper, and still have a very well-paying job.

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Other Options

Although there are ways to afford your Harvard MBA tuition and overall cost of attendance, there’s no denying the fact that the final price you pay may still be quite high.

You shouldn’t have to forgo getting your MBA simply because you can’t afford the Harvard MBA cost.

Instead, look to the University of the People, where you can earn your MBA tuition-free. We are an accredited American university that’s entirely online. So if another obstacle that’s standing in the way of earning your degree is not just cost, but also flexibility of the coursework, then UoPeople is a great option!


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