Attending a Harvard Business School (HBS) Executive Education program is a significant investment for you and your organization. As you enlist your organization’s support, you need to answer one basic question: How will investing in this leadership development experience deliver value for the business in exchange for the time and cost involved?

To aid you in this process, our Program Advising team provides highly personalized advice and resources that can help you identify the right program, build a strong case for attending, and navigate the admissions process. As experts on the HBS Executive Education portfolio, they have helped thousands of executives build a compelling business case—and can help you do the same. Here are a few key points to consider as you build your case.

Demonstrate that this is the right program and time for you and your organization.
  • Clarify where you fit in the organization. Is your decision-maker thoroughly familiar with your current role, background, and contribution to the organization? If not, include a résumé, curriculum vitae (CV), or summary of your experience.
  • Show how the program aligns with your established development plan and your personal goals. Consider the challenges you will be facing in the next two to three years in your current role or in a role into which you are transitioning.
  • Explain the specific skills and abilities the program will develop, and map them to the desired competencies in your development plan.
  • Provide the details—program title, brief description, dates, location, fees, and estimated travel expenses.
  • Develop a timeline for the application process (see Timing Your Application below).
  • Summarize how you plan to delegate responsibilities if you are attending multiweek program sessions.
Helpful resources: Your résumé or CV, your personal statement, your development plan, and the program brochure.

Show how the program content is relevant to your organization's challenges.
  • Explain how attending this program will enable you to address the specific challenges facing your organization today and in the near future.
  • Map the program topics or sessions to these challenges.
  • Emphasize the benefit of learning how other organizations are addressing similar challenges, inside and outside your industry.
  • Identify one or more questions you hope to answer.
  • Highlight any program sessions or exercises that focus on a current business or leadership challenge, and then briefly describe how you propose to take advantage of them to benefit the organization.
Helpful resources: Your organization's strategy and/or yearly goals, the program brochure, participant stories, and relevant articles

Demonstrate the program's effectiveness.
  • Identify others in your organization who have attended this program or a different HBS program, and summarize how their program participation benefited them and the organization.
  • Use participant stories or personal conversations with past participants to summarize what others have said about the program.
  • Consider emphasizing one or more of the following:
    • Global content that gathers best practices from around the world.
    • Renowned faculty who are full-time business professors and experts in their fields.
    • Benefits of the case method of learning, which builds practical skills in analysis and decision-making.
    • Exposure to the latest business thinking and research.
    • An intensive, immersive learning experience.
    • Practice collaborating with a diverse group of peers.
    • Opportunity to expand your professional network within and beyond your industry.
Helpful resources: Participant stories, summaries of your conversations with past participants, the program brochure, faculty profiles, and relevant articles.

Summarize how you will transform learning into action—and maximize the value.
Outline the steps you plan to take when you return from the program to maximize the value of your learning for your team and the wider organization. Emphasize any program elements that ask you to create a strategy, implementation plan, or personal action plan. You also may want to discuss how you will:
  • Deliver presentations or training sessions to share information and insights with colleagues.
  • Apply your new skills and perspective as you confront a specific upcoming task or challenge.
  • Coordinate with others who have attended (if you are attending as a team or participating in a program that others have attended in the past).
  • Timing Your Application
    A female and male participant walking on the HBS campus
    Some programs require additional supporting materials, so please read the admissions requirements for your selected program thoroughly. For most programs, the Admissions Committee meets monthly and admits qualified candidates on a rolling, space-available basis. Select programs have application deadlines, as noted on the program pages on our website. For all programs, early application is strongly encouraged.
    To learn more about admission to your chosen program, consult the program's web page and the admissions FAQs. The Program Advising team can answer any questions and guide you through every step of the process.

    Need More Details?
    Two women seated at a table engaged in conversation
    Bring your questions to the Program Advising team. If you need more information, or are trying to decide between two or more programs, the Program Advising team can guide you in the right direction and help you make an informed decision.
    Talk with executives who have been there. When you have selected a possible program, the Program Advising team can put you in touch with executives who have attended. By talking over your goals, their program experience, and how the program has helped them, you will be much better able to assess whether that program is the right next step for you.

    Connect With Us

    For more information, please contact our Program Advising team at:
    Phone: 800.427.5577 (outside the United States, call 617.495.6555)

    About the Author

    Anita Mushlin is the Assistant Director of Content Marketing for Harvard Business School, Executive Education.