Applying for an MBA a foreign university is not as straightforward as it sounds. There are quite a few obstacles that you need to plan for quite early on. One such aspect that you should decide way before you start prepping your application is when to apply!

Most top B-schools have three rounds of admissions every term. And when you apply does matter on whether you will make it through or not.

If you are new to the MBA world and thinking that Round 1 is obviously the best time to apply, it’s true, but it’s not that simple! So, let’s understand the reason behind the three rounds of applications and also go over when and why you should apply.

What is the meaning of Round 1, Round 2, and Round 3 of MBA application?

In a top MBA program it’s never about selecting the top candidates from the applications received. Rather, each B-school has certain parameters based on which they build a perfect MBA class. Many schools even compare the demographics of each MBA class to make sure they are finding the perfect candidates.

And this is why most schools will divide their applications into three rounds, to ensure that they have access to a large number of applicants and also fill up the MBA program with candidates who show ambition and experience. You can almost think of it as more of a curation process than a regular admission. And this form of staggering applications also helps the B-school decide on how they will be allocating financial aid and scholarships.

The typical admission cycle of a B-school place the deadlines for Round 1 Applications in the fall, Round 2 deadlines before winter, and Round 3 deadlines around spring. You need to keep in mind that the schools you are targeting are likely to have varied dates for application deadlines, and often these deadlines can be largely different from one another. So, make sure that you thoroughly check the deadlines while selecting the schools you will be applying to.MBA Application Round 1, Round 2, or Round 3? When to Apply?

Should you apply in Round 1?

Let’s get one thing straight, there are multiple advantages of applying in Round 1!

Any admissions committee member or alumni will tell you that it’s best to apply in Round 1. This is primarily because before Round 1 the admissions committee has not yet decided what the best candidates are going to look like, and if you have a good application ready you should definitely go ahead and send it in.

No B-school is going to gamble on a good applicant in Round 1. If you think that you are an A grade candidate then the AdCom is not going to put you on hold waiting for an A+ candidate that they might come across in Round 2. So, if you have done the groundwork, gotten your referrals, etc.; it’s best if you can apply as early as possible.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is that MBA classes are diverse. So, if you belong to a pool of applicants that is saturated, you need to definitely send in your application in the first round. It will help you stand out! And as a foreign applicant applying early might also provide you the time to get a visa and other things sorted.

So, now we come to the obvious question. If Round 1 is the best time to apply, then why should someone wait for Round 2. Let’s find out.

When to apply in Round 2?

There are a number of reasons as to why someone should wait till round 2, but the primary reason is that so you can make your application better. Let’s say you are due a big promotion in a month’s time, or you have prepped hard to pull-up your GMAT score – it is okay to take the time and apply in Round 2.

One of the reasons for having multiple rounds is so that candidates can present their best selves in their applications. So, if you think you will be able to make a massive difference in the next 4 months, definitely consider Round 2 as your go-to option.

When to not apply in Round 2?

However, if you belong to a highly competitive category of applicants, such as Indian male applicants from an IT background, waiting for Round 2 can drastically reduce your chances of getting shortlisted. 

This is when it’s better to apply the next year and if possible try to get some add-ons in your resume that will make it stand out from the crowd.

Should you apply in Round 3?

Don’t be fooled, applicants from Round 3 do get selected and if you think that by the Round 3 deadline you will have a rockstar application, then do that! If you don’t make it, you can always next year in Round 1 with the application that you have built.

Another aspect to consider again is diversity. If you are able to add diversity to your application, then you can take your time and apply in Round 3. If the diversity quota of the class is not fulfilled by Round 3 then having a stand-out application can definitely get you selected.

And once again, if you belong to a highly competitive applicant pool, it is better to stay away from the Round 3 applications!

Can you apply earlier than Round 1?

Yes, it is possible to apply even before Round 1 applications open and this is known as the early action period. Many top B-schools such as Fuqua School of Business (Duke) take in applications even before their Round 1 officially begins.

But, most such selections will require you to sign a contract with the school and often pay a part of your admission fee as well. If you are sure about your career goals and know that the B-school you have gotten selected in is ‘the one’; then you can definitely consider the early selection round.

There are certain B-schools, such as Columbia, that do not follow this 3 round method of application. So, if the school you are targeting follows the old-school norm of a single application date, feel free to apply as early as possible. Also, make sure to always research the admission process of your target schools and the deadlines for the different rounds.

Here is a quick look at the different dates of top global B-schools’ application rounds for the ongoing term:

MBA Program 2021-2022 MBA Application Deadline Notification
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
Berkeley (Haas) Sep 23, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Apr 7, 2022 Dec 15, 2021 Mar 24, 2022 May 23, 2022
Cambridge (Judge) Sep 13, 2021 Oct 18, 2021 Jan 10, 2022 Mar 7, 2022
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) Oct 3, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Mar 6, 2022 Dec 8, 2021 Mar 9, 2022 May 4, 2022
Chicago (Booth) Sep 23, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Apr 8, 2022 Dec 2, 2021 Mar 24, 2022 May 26, 2022
Columbia Oct 6, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Apr 8, 2022
Cornell (Johnson) Oct 12, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Apr 12, 2022 Dec 16, 2021 Apr 8, 2022 Jun 15, 2022
Dartmouth (Tuck) Sep 27, 2021 Jan 3, 2022 Mar 28, 2022 Dec 9, 2021 Mar 17, 2022 May 5, 2022
Duke (Fuqua) Sep 2, 2021 Oct 11, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Mar 24, 2022 Oct 14, 2021 Dec 15, 2021 Mar 16, 2022 Apr 29, 2022
Georgetown (McDonough) Sep 27, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Mar 31, 2022 Apr 26, 2022 Dec 9, 2021 Mar 22, 2022 May 5, 2022 May 25, 2022
Harvard Sep 8, 2021 Jan 4, 2022 Dec 9, 2021 Mar 30, 2022
INSEAD
London Business School Sep 10, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Mar 25, 2022 Dec 2, 2021 Apr 7, 2022 Jun 10, 2022
Michigan (Ross) Sep 20, 2021 Jan 10, 2022 Apr 4, 2022 Dec 8, 2021 Mar 18, 2022 May 11, 2022
MIT (Sloan) Sep 28, 2021 Jan 19, 2022 Apr 12, 2022
Northwestern (Kellogg) Sep 15, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Apr 6, 2022 Dec 8, 2021 Mar 23, 2022 May 11, 2022
NYU (Stern) Sep 15, 2021 Oct 15, 2021 Jan 15, 2022 Mar 15, 2022 Dec 1, 2021 Jan 1, 2022 Apr 1, 2022 Jun 1, 2022
Oxford (Saïd) Sep 1, 2021 Oct 13, 2021 Jan 12, 2022 Mar 23, 2022 Oct 27, 2021 Dec 8, 2021 Mar 16, 2022 May 25, 2022
Penn (Wharton) Sep 8, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Mar 30, 2022 Dec 15, 2021 Mar 23, 2022 May 20, 2022
Stanford Sep 9, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Dec 9, 2021 Mar 31, 2022
Texas (McCombs) Oct 12, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Mar 29, 2022 Dec 16, 2021 Mar 24, 2022 May 5, 2022
UCLA (Anderson) Oct 5, 2021 Jan 4, 2022 Apr 12, 2022 Dec 14, 2021 Mar 22, 2022 May 17, 2022
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) Oct 11, 2021 Jan 10, 2022 Feb 28, 2022 Apr 11, 2022 Dec 13, 2021 Mar 14, 2022 Apr 25, 2022 May 23, 2022
USC (Marshall)
Vanderbilt (Owen)* Oct 12, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Mar 29, 2022 May 16, 2022 Dec 17, 2021 Mar 25, 2022 May 6, 2022
Virginia (Darden) Sep 9, 2021 Oct 6, 2021 Jan 5, 2022 Apr 6, 2022
Yale SOM Sep 14, 2021 Jan 6, 2022 Apr 12, 2022 Dec 3, 2021 Mar 25, 2022 May 18, 2022

 

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