MBA Programs

MBA Application Deadlines and the Admissions Process: When to Do It

December 27 2021 By The MBA Exchange
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Timing, timing – so much of the process of getting admitted to a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) program comes down to timing. If you’re applying for MBA admission, there’s a lot of timeline questions to answer. Round 1, Round 2, or Round 3 MBA application deadlines? What about recommendations? And then there’s the admission interview to schedule!

How you handle the tricky issue of timing around applying for MBA admission shows your stuff, including time management skills and your ability to work under pressure to a deadline with accuracy.

At The MBA Exchange, our MBA admissions experts have advised over 5,000 MBA applicants over more than 20 years. We know the ideal timing for your applications and can help you out even if it seems early or late to be thinking about applying for MBA admission. If you’re wondering how to apply for MBA admission, we’ve got you covered.

Reasons for admission to an MBA

Getting an MBA degree is absolutely worth the hassle of applying for MBA admission and winning your seat. During your program, you benefit from top educational and networking opportunities, increasing your business-related skills and building the connections you’ll need to make it to the top.

After you graduate with an MBA, you can expect increased career growth opportunities, as well as higher average salary and compensation packages. With an MBA degree under your belt, you benefit from:

  • New skills-based on challenging coursework to help you conquer any and all business challenges
  • Specialized skills for fields like finance, consulting, and entrepreneurship to support your most ambitious career goals
  • Connections with movers and shakers around the world, including networking opportunities with top businesses in specializations like healthcare, consumer packaged goods (CPG) or the tech sector
  • Higher potential income and promotion chances

MBA programs come in several varieties, including 1-2 year traditional full-time programs, part-time MBA programs, and executive MBA (EMBA) programs. What’s the right MBA program for you? Read our tips on how to choose the right MBA program.

When is the best time to apply for an MBA?

An MBA degree is all that and a bag of chips. But before you can benefit from graduating with an MBA, you have to earn one. And before you can get started on earning your MBA degree, you’ve got to get on with applying for MBA admission and then get yourself accepted. So, how to apply for MBA admission in a way that’s going to pay off for you?

Potential applicants can end up super stressed out over confusing admissions calendars and MBA application deadlines. When is the best time for you to apply? Have you waited too long to get started, or are you way early to the application party?

If you’re early

You’re probably not! Optimizing an MBA candidacy takes time and attention, and getting a head start is pretty much always a plus. 

You can boost your resume with additional leadership roles, prep for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT™) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE ®) and earn a top score with additional tutoring and study GMAT test prep resources and a whole lot more when you have plenty of time before your targeted MBA application deadlines.

If you’re running a little late

Then it’s time to let go of the excuses that have been holding you back, stuff like “I’m too busy at work” or “my GPA is too low for an MBA” not usually true and get down to the business of applying for MBA admission before you lose your chance. The MBA Exchange team has seen candidacies come together with just a few weeks of strong effort focusing on the most critical application components. Instead of waiting for a whole additional year, why not try to turn your application marathon into a sprint?

The truth is, when it comes to MBA applications, the best time to start is now. There’s no moment like the present when it could be your moment! No matter when you intend to apply, the team at The MBA Exchange can help you start refining your application materials, from prepping for testing or retesting or exploring extra leadership opportunities.

MBA Application deadlines and rounds

Many top MBA programs use a system of “rounds” to manage each year’s applications for admission. Three rounds are industry standard, but some schools, like Georgia Tech Scheller, Rice Jones, Cambridge Judge, and NYU Stern have more than the typical three rounds. And, many programs use slightly different deadlines for each application round.

Typically, applications for Round 1 are due in the fall, with Round 2 kicking off in the winter and Round 3, if used, accepting applications through the spring. 

Most Round 1 deadlines hit around September and October, with Round 2 deadlines in January and Round 3 deadlines around April. Check carefully to find the exact MBA application deadlines for your target schools in 2021-2022!

Which is the best round for applicants to target?

In general, submitting your application for Round 1 puts you in the most competitive position to achieve MBA admission. If you’re positioned to apply then, before seats start being snapped up by other accepted applicants, go for it! 

International applicants, in particular, should plan on targeting Round 1 due to the additional time needed for stuff like visa processing. And, applying earlier gives you more time to wrangle scholarships and financial aid.

But, if you’re not ready for Round 1, or if you’re ready to submit before Round 1 deadlines, you have other options.

Early Decision and Round 1 deadlines

For prospective applicants who have all their materials ready and polished early in the year. Early decision deadlines or Round 1 may make the most sense. You’ll need to have your MBA resume letters of recommendation. And test scores are all ready to submit and be prepared for essay questions and interviews. You may need to put down a non-refundable deposit for Early Decision applications.

Round 2 deadlines

If you need more time to prepare your materials. For example, retesting for a better GMAT score. Or trying the GRE instead to see if you fare better there targeting Round 2 deadlines may make more sense for you. Rushing your application out the door before it’s really ready isn’t going to help you. It’s worth taking the time to perfect your materials. The bulk of MBA applicants targets Round 2, making this round the busiest and most competitive part of the MBA admissions calendar year.

Round 3 deadlines and beyond

Top 15 MBA programs advantage earlier applicants over Round 3 (or Round 4) applicants and later rounds typically show a lower acceptance rate. Round 3 gets super competitive, as most seats in top programs will have already been filled by that point. Note that some programs may not accept applications from international applicants in these later rounds.

When to hit “send” on your application

Once you’ve selected the admission round you want to target, when should you hit “send” on your application? As the cutoff for each round arrives, an ideal moment for application appears. 

Too late, and you risk looking like a procrastinator, or getting kicked out by online timeouts and systems. Too early, and you could miss embarrassing errors or appear overconfident.

Our experience advising more than 5,000 applicants since 1996. The MBA Exchange suggests 48 hours before the official deadline. This is the “sweet spot” for submission timing, sending a positive message about your confidence and preparation.

Applying and keeping track of MBA application deadlines?

Let The MBA Exchange assist you with your application timeline and calendar! You benefit from our experience and expertise on how to apply for MBA admission and succeed. Submit your free profile evaluation request today and find out where you stand in terms of readiness for rapidly approaching MBA application deadlines for 2021-2022 intake now.