CORe Course


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

Gain the skills and confidence needed for your next chapter with CORe

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. You will also have an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of the material by passing the required, in-person final exam.

Participating in CORe will allow you to:

  • 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 our course platform
  • Engage online as your schedule allows

CORe Courses

Business Analytics

with Professor Jan Hammond

Business Analytics introduces quantitative methods used to analyze data and make better management decisions. You will hone your understanding of key concepts, your managerial judgment, and your ability to apply course concepts to real business problems.

Economics for Managers

with Professor Bharat Anand

Economics for Managers dives into fundamental economic principles like supply and demand, cost, markets, competition, and differentiation. You will gain the knowledge and skills needed to craft successful business strategy.

Financial Accounting

with Professor V.G. Narayanan

This course will teach you the fundamentals of financial accounting. Starting with the basics of recording transactions as journal entries and posting them to T accounts, you will learn how to prepare a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement.

Program Structure

CORe is delivered on our innovative 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 us, 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, a 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 standard 10-week or 12-week cohorts to extended 17-week cohorts. 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.

  • Extended Cohorts

Program Length: 17 Weeks

Time Commitment: 8-10 hours per week

  • Standard Cohorts

Program Length: 10-12 Weeks

Time Commitment: 10-15 hours per week

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 ($3,680). 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 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 programs 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.

Note: By enrolling in the CORe program, participants will be ineligible to enroll in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, or Financial Accounting as individual certificate programs. By enrolling in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, or Financial Accounting as individual certificate programs, participants will be ineligible to enroll in the CORe program.


When reviewing applications to CORe we screen for two things—aptitude and motivation. The essay gives us a window into your motivation to contribute to the CORe learning community and completes the program.

The application is free and should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. All applicants must be 18 years of age and demonstrate proficiency in English.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis with admissions decisions sent within one to two weeks. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM US Eastern time on the application deadline unless otherwise noted.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

Harvard Business School Online teaches vital business concepts in a unique and highly engaging way that enables committed learners to transform their careers, their organizations, and their lives.

Harvard Business School Online teaches vital business concepts in a unique and highly engaging way that enables committed learners to transform their careers, their organizations, and their lives. Read less