Application Process & Timeline

When you have given sufficient thought to pursuing an MBA, and have accrued the necessary work experience after graduating from college, you will be ready to consider applying for admission to business school. This page focuses on the MBA application process. Other Masters programs related to business have similar application processes. Be sure to research each program in which you are interested to ensure that you thoroughly understand the application requirements. 

Preparing for the Application

  • Explore the curricular, financial, and advising aspects of a significant number of schools. Evaluate your career goals and compare them with the school's strengths.
  • Take the standardized tests necessary for admission to the schools of interest (GMAT preferred, GRE accepted by some)
  • Carefully assess each program to which you are applying and tailor your approach to fit the admission processes at individual schools 
  • Identify individuals who can write strong letters of recommendation for you. Employers and supervisors are all good possibilities. Some schools would accept academic references as well. 
  • Begin your application essays well in advance of submission deadlines. Ask for feedback on drafts from your references, from friends, or mentors
  • Prepare for interviews. Use CareerLAB's practice interview program to prepare for and improve your interviewing skills.

A number of books, self-preparation guides and on-line sources offer advice about various aspects of the application process. Assess this information critically with your personal career goals in mind, and be mindful of the distinction between facts and opinions.

Application Timeline

Most business schools have specified application deadlines/rounds, but some accept applications on a continual basis. Schools typically announce their deadlines in the summer; check program websites for each school's application process. 

  • Rolling Admissions: Schools that follow a rolling admission schedule evaluate applications in the order in which they are received and complete. For such schools you should apply as early as possible. 
  • Rounds: If you apply to schools that have defined deadlines/rounds you should time your application tactically. Most schools have 3 rounds (though some have as many as 5). Typically these are in the fall, winter and spring. Applying early in the first round may be most beneficial since a greater number of seats is available in the incoming class at that time. Competition is very keen in the first round. If your application can use a bit more polish and your credentials can be strengthened by waiting till a subsequent cycle, it is better to wait. Competition is likely to be somewhat lighter in the second round. The popular perception is that all "A-types" apply early in the first round. It is more important for you to focus on the timing that will enable YOU to put forward the best application.  The third or fourth rounds are not the best time to apply since you will be competing for fewer available seats in the incoming class and this can seriously impact your candidacy.