MBA Admissions Timeline

What is a typical admission process?

Many schools use rounds of application, whereby they determine three rounds of deadlines, typically in November, January and March for a September class start. At this stage they gather together all the applications that are of interest to them and start to make decisions whether you are in, out, or placed on a wait list. Other schools use a rolling admissions process. This means quite simply that they are constantly receiving and reviewing applications throughout the academic year, or consider on a first come first serve basis. They accept or reject the applications as they are reviewed and provide a response within four to six weeks of reception.

The ideal time to apply

So when should you submit your application? The deciding factor must be to apply to school when you have prepared a top-notch application. Apply early! It is said that Stanford GSB allocated 40-50% of its places in first round, 30-40% in the second round, and only 10% in the third or last round. Stanford is a school to which it is always exceptionally difficult to be admitted, but in Round 3 it is nearly impossible.

On the other hand, if meeting the November deadline means a poorly prepared GMAT test, with hurried essays that lack of definition and impact, you’d be better waiting for the next round. In other words, applicants are of course accepted in the final round. If you are choosing between a hurried dossier with an average GMAT score for the January deadline, versus a thoughtful, persuasive dossier and a higher GMAT score for the March deadline, take your time, do a good job and apply for the later deadline.

In sum, applicants are encouraged to apply in the first or second rounds because it allows you more flexibility because you are notified earlier and have a larger window in which to make your decision. Also, schools tend to admit a much larger number of applicants in the earlier rounds than in the last, although there is always room in the class for exceptional applicants.

Application Timeline

Pulling the different pieces of the application together requires you to be on top of things from the beginning. The timeline below indicates what you need to be tracking throughout the application process, and when you need to complete the various components to respect the first or second round deadlines. As you prepare your application to business school, pay particular attention to the elements of the application on which you can still have an impact.

March Request application from your schools of interest. Participate in the world MBA tour or visit school websites.
April Prepare for the GMAT. It can take  between 1 and 6 months to prep, depending on your initial level.
May-June Define your goals and objectives for doing an MBA; Brainstorm on your essays and determine your achievements, strengths and weaknesses.
July Seek recommenders. Discuss your application and remind them of your achievements, provide them with a draft of your application as a guide for consistency, establish clear and reasonable deadlines for completion , and give them a call after three or four weeks to find out how the letters are progressing.
August Request your undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Allow at east two months.
September Take the GMAT (and TOEFL, if applicable) not later than October if you apply for first round. Also, have GMAT scores sent to the schools.
October-November Complete your essays. Have friends and colleagues whose opinions you value re-read for an honest evaluation. You can also consider working with a professional admission counselor to sharpen the focus of your work.
November to January Mail all completed applications or submit your application online. If by postal mail, allow time to arrive by the school deadline (postmarks don’t count) and keep photocopies for your records (for interview).

The bottom line, prepare early, and be well organized. The earlier you complete your application the better your chances of admission.