Everything You Need to Know About B-School Admissions Rounds

Most full-time MBA programs accept applications in three separate rounds: round one, round two, and round three. It’s key to apply to business school when you’re fully prepared, and this can take some planning. Which of these rounds should you apply in? What are the timelines for decisions? When applying to b-school, it’s important to be educated on the different rounds, as well as rolling admissions, in order to make the right admissions decision for you.

Looking to plan your b-school admissions timeline? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about b-school admissions rounds.

B-school admissions rounds one and two

Round one deadlines typically fall in September or October, with decisions sent to applicants in December. (Certain programs may offer an Early Action round with an even earlier deadline.) Round two deadlines generally fall in November, December, or January, with decisions returned between January and March. For the best results, admissions officers often encourage MBA candidates to submit their applications in the first two rounds.

In addition, students who are interested in scholarships, grants, fellowships, and other forms of financial aid should apply in round one or two, as most awards are allotted during these two rounds.

Though round one does offer more opportunities for applicants, as most of the class seats are open, students applying to MBA programs should still make sure that their applications are at the highest quality to increase the likelihood of acceptance. Allow time to make improvements and submit your application in round two if the following points apply to you:

  • Your application isn’t quite complete during round one.

  • You would like the retake your GMAT or GRE.

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The final b-school admissions rounds

Some business schools have three admissions rounds, while others have more. These are the least advantageous of the rounds, as most seats at schools have been filled during the previous months. In the final rounds, including round three, admissions officers are looking to augment their classes with students who stand out from the crowded field. The individuals who have the greatest opportunities for success in these rounds are qualified candidates who have some combination of solid experience, high test scores, superb academic performance, and refined career focus.

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B-school rolling admissions

While many MBA programs have separate, dedicated rounds for their applications, some offer rolling admissions. This means candidates for these programs can submit their applications throughout the year for the upcoming semester. Columbia Business School, for example, is a full-time MBA program that has a rolling admissions policy. Therefore, if you’re applying to Columbia as a full-time MBA student, you can send in your application throughout the year. Note, though, that it’s still beneficial to submit your application as early as possible.

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All in all, the best time to submit your MBA application is when it’s fully ready. This means your submission includes polished essays, glowing recommendations, and your highest GMAT or GRE score. Additionally, you should be ready for your MBA interview. Plan ahead—you should not apply to business school on a whim. Select the b-school admissions round that works best for your individual situation so that you have the greatest opportunity to attend your top choice business school.


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