Your HBX CORe questions, answered.

About HBX CORe

Credential of Readiness (CORe) is a primer on the fundamentals of business. It is designed to introduce you to the language of business. It assumes no prior familiarity with business concepts, though it does presume a strong motivation to engage and learn. CORe is comprised of three courses - Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting – which must be taken together. CORe is designed for college undergraduates, recent college graduates, and graduate students in non-business fields who want to prepare themselves for a business career or for a graduate business school.

By completing HBX CORe, you will feel more confident using the language of business and applying these ideas productively. By earning the Credential of Readiness and an official HBX transcript, you will be able to credibly signal to others (including employers) your mastery of the fundamentals of business.

CORe is a unique digital learning ecosystem inspired by the HBS signature case-based learning model. It is focused on understanding and solving real world problems. It requires students to play an active role, individually and with each other, emphasizing engagement, discussion, and peer-to-peer learning.

We expect to offer CORe in additional languages in the future.

CORe is for people who are committed to being serious learners—who are ready to fully engage in and complete all three CORe courses. If you are looking to browse a course or two, we are probably not right for you. There are a number of individual online courses on many business topics offered by a wide variety of providers that you may wish to consider instead.

Future CORe cohort dates and application deadlines are listed on the "Applying to HBX CORe" page of the website.

Participants in CORe can expect to spend about 120-150 hours CORe, followed by a 3-hour in-person computer-based exam delivered at a Pearson VUE testing center. Program length varies depending on date.

No, CORe is an online program available to participants no matter where they live. You will, however, have to appear in person to take a final exam at a Pearson VUE testing center (in 1 of more than 4,800 locations worldwide) in order to complete CORe.

We are working to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level A standard for accessibility. As we work toward implementing and improving on these accessibility standards, HBX support will coordinate with participants to provide accommodations as necessary.

Is CORe right for me?

We are looking for hard-working people who have a desire to learn and are prepared to take part in the CORe community. The application process is intended to help us identify participants with the aptitude and motivation to be successful in the program.

Yes! CORe will give you the ability to speak articulately about business topics and concepts. It will also help you understand your own organization’s business decisions, even if you do not work directly on the “business side”.

We are currently looking for students or early career professionals (roughly defined as being within 10 years of graduation from college), but we are happy to review any applicants who do not fit this demographic. If you believe you are a good fit for CORe, you can use the second essay in the application process to tell us why!

We emphasize the social element of CORe, as it can often be the most rewarding and helpful part of the program. Our CORe participants interact with one another, helping each other solidify their understanding and discussing the concepts taught in CORe. We also invite CORe participants to join a closed Facebook group to further discuss concepts related to the coursework and interact with one another and the greater CORe community. Finally, once the program is complete, our CORe credential holders are invited to join the HBX LinkedIn group to maintain their connection to HBX and their peers and remain informed by the HBX Community Manager.

CORe can be appropriate for virtually all majors and is designed to instruct participants in the fundamentals of business. Past participants came from the humanities, sciences, liberal arts, and other disciplines. In some cases, CORe may be appropriate for business majors who want to focus on the application of business concepts to real-world situations using the case method. Our past CORe participants who were business majors have found tremendous value in CORe. Often, they gained a real world understanding to business that is not offered at their undergraduate institution, thus supplementing their coursework.


After submitting your application, you should receive an email confirmation If you do not receive this email, please check your junk email folders and double check your account to make sure the application was successfully submitted.

As an HBX participant, you join the HBX community; however, you will not be considered an HBS student. To become an HBS student, you must be enrolled in our MBA, executive education, or doctoral programs.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis in the order in which they are received. We try to process applications as quickly as we can and send out a group of admissions decisions roughly every other week. This does not mean that you will necessarily hear back about your application within two weeks, but we will attempt to get you a decision as quickly as possible.

If we are accepting applications for multiple cohorts concurrently, we typically review applications for the earlier cohort first. This might cause a slight delay in the review of applications for later cohort dates. We appreciate your patience!

After submitting your application, you should receive an email confirmation from If you do not receive this email, please check your junk email folders and double check your account to make sure the application was successfully submitted.

When you earn your Credential, you will not be considered an HBS alum. However, we aim to offer ongoing learning opportunities and additional benefits for individuals who have successfully completed CORe.

Successful completion of CORe will help you prepare for an MBA program. While applicants to the MBA Program at HBS will have an opportunity to inform the Admissions Board of non-degree preparatory coursework (including CORe), this is one of many application elements and will be considered in the larger context of a holistic selection process.

Every college and university sets its own rules and guidelines for transfer credit. You should speak with your specific program to determine if transfer credit will be considered.

Tuition & Institutional Scholarships

The fee for HBX CORe is $1,800.

Your registration fee includes all course materials and final exam fees. You will not be required to purchase anything else or pay any additional fees for the course. If you request a transcript from HBX, you are required to pay National Student Clearinghouse a small fee (~$5) to receive your transcript.

US Citizens who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program may qualify for institutional need-based scholarships that are based on demonstrated financial need. To receive an institutional scholarship, you will be asked to provide supporting documentation.

You can pay for CORe through a variety of ways. We accept credit card payments and payments via Western Union. Loans are also available through independent financing companies. In addition, you may be eligible for an institutional need-based scholarship if you are a US student.

If you notify us at least 48 hours before the program begins that you no longer wish to participate, we will refund your tuition minus any processing fees. However, once the program begins, you won't be eligible for a refund.

Technical Requirements

CORe is designed to work on an internet-connected desktop or notebook computer running either the Chrome or Firefox browser. Tablet computers and smartphones are not supported for CORe at this time. A broadband internet connection is highly recommended to access the rich media in the program.

The HBX CORe platform allows you to engage with the content and watch the course videos with bandwidth of at least 750 Kbps download speed. At this speed, you may experience video buffering and some slowness. Videos can be viewed in HD, or ‘high' quality with a minimum recommended bandwidth of 2 Mbps download speed. Your browser performance will also affect your experience on the HBX platform. To avoid browser-based issues and to ensure the best experience, we recommend that you update your browser to its latest version.


CORe on average requires about 12-15 hours per week of work (total of 120-150 hours) to complete. Program length varies depending on date from 7 to 12 weeks. Some participants spend more time on the platform, usually to engage with their peers to help one another and enhance their understanding of the concepts. We believe that the more work CORe participants invest, the more they get out of the program because of this social learning!

No prior knowledge or prerequisites are required. We just ask that you come with a desire to learn and a hard work ethic!

The business concepts taught in CORe are firmly rooted in Harvard Business School’s signature tradition of case method teaching. Approximately 20 case studies are woven into the fabric of CORe, and they provide an opportunity to hear directly from business executives and apply course concepts to real-world problems.

Case study protagonists range from large businesses, such as The American Red Cross and Amazon, to small local businesses and are presented in short videos throughout the program. You can see samples in the course introduction videos that are on our website:

HBX CORe is designed to give participants a foundational understanding of business. Some of the concepts taught in the program include: conjoint analysis, willingness to pay, supply/demand curves and equilibriums, cost analysis, single and multiple regressions, financial statement analysis, T-Accounts and journal entries, and much more.

If you are not familiar with these concepts, then CORe will surely be valuable to you; even if you do have some familiarity; the case-based approach is likely to add an additional dimension to your understanding.

CORe has been developed by some of the most experienced and popular HBS faculty. Although professors will not have direct real-time interactions with students, they have thoughtfully developed short video lectures, cases, exercises, and other interactive learning elements to create a highly engaging educational experience. Moreover, as much as we expect you to learn from the faculty, we expect you to learn as much (if not more) from your own thoughtful participation and from your peers in this active learning ecosystem.

In CORe, we don't expect you to know anything about business going in. We only ask that you have a deep curiosity or interest in it. You may be a rising junior or senior in a four-year degree granting college or university, a recent college grad, or a grad student in a non-business program. Your background may be in history, literature computer science or government. None of that stuff matters. What does matter is that you are ready to dig in, do the work, and put in the time to develop a fresh understanding of the world around you. The courses have been structured to appeal to individuals at all levels of academic achievement.

New modules for each of the courses will be released on a regular schedule. You'll be able to set your own daily or weekly schedule and adjust as necessary, but you will need to complete modules within a pre-set timeframe as there are critical elements that require the cohort to progress at a similar rate.

Because HBX expects all students to participate fully to help create an active ecosystem of engaged learners, you cannot audit CORe.

Yes, you will have access to the materials in every prior module as you progress through the rest of the course and prepare for the final exam.


CORe grades are provided at both the individual course level (i.e. Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting) and the program level. Students who complete and pass all three courses will receive a passing grade for CORe and earn the Credential of Readiness.

Program grades are assigned on the following scale:

Pass with High Honors
To pass CORe with High Honors, you must meet all requirements to pass CORe referenced below, and demonstrate a superior level of mastery of course content, and make exemplary contributions to the program through your engagement and participation. Excellence in both required and “enhanced” participation is also required to earn High Honors.

Pass with Honors
To pass CORe with Honors, you must meet all requirements to pass CORe referenced below, and demonstrate a strong level of mastery of course content, and complete all required participation elements with consistently high-quality contributions, and have a strong level of enhanced participation.

To pass CORe, you must demonstrate mastery of course content, and satisfactorily complete all quizzes, exams, and required participation elements, and contribute to enhanced participation.

Participants will not pass the CORe program and will not be awarded a Certificate of Readiness if, in one or more courses, they fail to do one or more of the following:

  • Complete all module quizzes and the final exam,
  • Demonstrate content mastery on module quizzes and final exams,
  • Satisfactorily complete all required participation elements, or
  • Engage in enhanced participation.


There are no pre-determined percentages of participants who will receive Honors or High Honors. However, we expect that roughly 5-10% of participants will receive High Honors, and another 10-15% will receive Honors. Actual percentages will vary based on the mastery of concepts demonstrated by the cohort.

Course participation is a critical element of the CORe program. Students are expected not only to learn, but to contribute to their peers' learning. Participation takes one of two forms: "required course participation" and "enhanced course participation."

At HBX, we believe that learning is enhanced not only when you learn from your peers but also when you help your peers understand and apply course concepts. Enhanced participation involves going beyond required participation, by completing elements that further contribute to classmates' learning in CORe - for example, thoughtfully asking and answering questions, sharing particularly interesting or creative observations, and participating in Weekly Assignments. We expect a basic level of engagement by everyone on each of these enhanced participation elements.

"Knowledge check" questions and interactive exercises are present throughout each of the courses. They were created to serve as opportunities for you to practice, test, and refine your understanding of the course material and, as such, do not "count" towards your course grade. Of course, we expect you to approach this element of participation with the same degree of care as you do other parts of the course participation. In addition, it is in your own interest to complete these questions thoroughly since some of them are good indicators of the types of questions to expect on module quizzes or the final exam.

Other elements of "required participation" (e.g., reflections, cold calls, shared reflections, etc.) do impact your final course grades and should be completed with care.

You should expect to spend a significant amount of time each week to complete the modules - and the program - on time. Our program length varies depending on date from 7 to 12 weeks, and CORe takes approximately 120-150 hours to complete.

Each module, including the module quiz, must be completed by its stated deadline. If you do not complete a module by the deadline, you must still access and work through the module materials and complete the module quiz; however, your quiz score will be recorded as zero for that module. In calculating your overall quiz average for each course, we will exclude your lowest score. Therefore, if you are unable to complete one module quiz in a course by the deadline, it will not affect your overall grade. However, missing more than one quiz deadline per course will adversely affect your course grade and your eligibility for the CORe credential. All modules and quizzes in CORe must be completed to be eligible to take the CORe final exam and receive a passing grade for the program.

Please note: in order to ensure fairness across all participants, we are unable to offer individual extensions on module deadlines.

You will have approximately 3-4 weeks following the conclusion of the CORe program to take your exam at a Pearson VUE center.

The HBX CORe final examination is offered to participants after successful completion of the course. This three hour, multiple choice, closed-book, computer-based assessment has been created by HBS faculty and is administered by Pearson VUE. Participants will be able sit for the examination at one of 4,800 Pearson VUE test centers worldwide. A passing exam score on all three courses (Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting) is required in order to earn the CORe credential.

More information on scheduling an appointment, accommodations, ID requirements, and test center policies for the HBX CORe final examination is available at Please note that you will need your HBX ID to create an account with Pearson; you can find your HBX ID on your Profile page on the course platform.

The Credential

Yes, we are actively communicating the value of CORe to employers. Your Credential tells employers that you have demonstrated competence in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting as certified by HBX. It will also give them a sense of how actively engaged you were in learning this material.

Once you've earned your Credential of Readiness, list it on your resume along with the date of completion, as well as any honors you received, like this:

Summer 2014 HBX | Harvard Business School
CORe: Credential of Readiness, Pass

On LinkedIn, list CORe under "education" as follows:
School: HBX | Harvard Business School
Dates Attended: the year you participated in CORe
Degree: Other; "Core: Credential of Readiness"
Field of Study: leave blank
Grade: "Pass," "Pass with Honors" or "Pass with High Honors" as applicable
Activities and Societies: leave blank
Description: HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) is a 120-150 hour certificate program on the fundamentals of business from Harvard Business School. CORe is comprised of three courses - Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting – developed by leading Harvard Business School faculty and delivered in an active learning environment based on the HBS signature case-based learning model.

It will appear on your LinkedIn profile as:

HBX | Harvard Business School
CORe: Credential of Readiness, Pass

HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) is a 120-150 hour certificate program on the fundamentals of business from Harvard Business School. CORe is comprised of three courses - Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting – developed by leading Harvard Business School faculty and delivered in an active learning environment based on the HBS signature case-based learning model.