What you'll learn

  • Analyze and interpret data to inform business decisions
  • Apply economic principles to real business situations
  • Discover what’s behind the numbers in financial statements
  • Master concepts as you tackle multimedia case studies of diverse organizations
  • Develop business intuition through cold calls and interactive features
  • Join global cohort of peers with diverse experiences on the HBX course platform

Course description

The Credential of Readiness (CORe) is our primer on the fundamentals of business thinking—a three-course online program designed to prepare you to participate fully in the business world. CORe was developed by HBS faculty members to instill a deep understanding of essential business concepts and problem-solving skills. Mastering the three CORe courses—Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting—will give you fluency in the language of business.

This is the program that Harvard Business School offers to incoming students to prepare for the MBA classroom, and it will equip you to contribute to business discussions and decision making, whether you’re looking to advance your current career, considering graduate school, or exploring new career paths.

You will learn alongside a global cohort of peers—sharing perspectives and surfacing insights as you progress through the program on the HBX course platform. You will also have an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of the material by passing the required, in-person final exam.

Program Structure

CORe is delivered on the innovative HBX online platform which puts you, the student, at the center of the learning process. You will complete the coursework on your own schedule while meeting regular weekly deadlines. With HBX, learning is active, social, and case-based. We ask you to step into the role of a business leader and engage with your peers to work through real world business challenges. By doing so, you learn more. You walk away from CORe with a new perspective on the world and how businesses work.

CORe’s program structure is distinct in several ways:

1. Credential program

As a credential program, CORe consists of three courses, features a final exam, and is graded based on quiz and final exam performance, quality and timeliness of work, and contributions to the learning community. Learn more about CORe grading

The three-hour, multiple choice final exam is a closed book, computer-based assessment that has been created by HBS faculty and is administered at one of 4,800 Pearson VUE test centers worldwide. Learn more about how the final exam is administered and where you can sit for the final exam on our Frequently Asked Questions page. A passing exam score on all three courses is required in order to earn the CORe credential. 

 2. Fit CORe into your schedule

We offer CORe throughout the year with multiple durations of study—ranging from 10 to 17 weeks. However, the course content and program requirements are identical regardless of the program length. Our goal in offering different program lengths is to give you options to balance the program’s rigors with your lifestyle and other responsibilities.

The median time required to complete the program is approximately 150 hours, though this learning time varies widely. Some participants spend more time on the platform to enhance their understanding of course concepts and engage with their peers. This time does not include review work outside the platform or preparing for and taking the three-hour CORe final exam.

3. Undergraduate credit option

It is possible to earn academic credit for CORe by electing the Undergraduate Credit Option, in the January, May, or September CORe cohorts. Participants can earn 8 undergraduate credits through Harvard Extension School. The course content, deadlines, and grading process are identical for those who elect the undergraduate credit option ($3,600). When you start your application, you can select whether you are seeking admission for the undergraduate credit option. 

Who Would Benefit

Individuals from many different educational and professional backgrounds have benefited from HBX CORe. There are no prerequisites for the program. We’ve found that most participants fall into one of the following three categories:

  •  College students and recent graduates looking to stand out from the crowd and impress during interviews
  •  Those considering an MBA or other graduate program who would like to strengthen their application and be prepared on day one
  •  Professionals looking to deepen their understanding of essential business concepts, add value to their organizations, and advance their careers

If you are hungry for an immersive learning experience that could change the way you think about the world and prepare you for your next chapter, CORe may be just what you’re looking for.

About HBX

HBX, a digital learning initiative from Harvard Business School, leverages technology and multimedia to deliver engaging online learning experiences to business leaders around the world. With real-world, practical case studies and an interactive, social course platform, HBX is extending business education and the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning into the digital age.


  • Bharat Anand
    Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration
  • Jan Hammond
    Jesse Philips Professor of Manufacturing
  • V.G. Narayanan
    Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration; Chair, MBA Elective Curriculum

Associated Schools

  • Harvard Business School

Enroll now.
Take courseon