MBA Applications Deadlines for 2021
MBA admissions are increasingly competitive, and with 67% of business schools announcing that they received more applications in 2020 as compared to 2019, it seems the Covid-19 pandemic has done little to slow things down.
Global travel restrictions, the prospect of a curriculum delivered by e-learning, and general pandemic-related concerns may have contributed to the massive 65% of admitted students – many international – who opted to defer attendance until the following academic year.
It’s suspected that this might make this year a particularly competitive one for MBA applicants, and so whether you’re planning to put in an application in Round 1, 2, or 3, it is more important than ever to meet the associated deadline.
While some colleges will accept late applications, it’s likely not a risk you want to be taking as an already competitive landscape grows even more so.
When do I need to apply for my MBA?
While the obvious answer here is by the deadline, it can be useful to also highlight the importance of being as prepared as possible for the application process.
With an average of three to five years of relevant work experience cited as a good level to strive for before applying for a full-time MBA – this could be more or less depending on the quality of your professional profile – it can be worth taking the time to ensure you’re as equipped as possible to form the best possible application.
Whether that means gaining an extra year or experience, retaking the GMAT, or simply spending a solid weekend brainstorming your professional goals, when it comes to your application, it can pay to put in the effort.
To summarize, while it’s vital to meet MBA application deadlines, aim to do so without rushing on application elements that could just gain you your place.
Be prepared before you apply for an MBA
The first step in the preparation process is to consider which schools you would like to apply to. Most have similar, if not identical, requirements in terms of application materials and information.
Essay requirements may be different, and you’ll likely want to tweak your application to make it look as if every school you apply to is your first choice. You may also want to allow time for retakes of tests – usually the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score.
Of course, you will need to be sure that you identify the correct MBA deadlines. While lots of websites publish MBA application deadlines, it’s always best to go to the source and check information on the relevant business school website.
MBA application deadlines
MBA programs typically use one of two methods for applications: rounds, or rolling.
A round-structured application cycle will usually be divided into three, timed cycles in which you can submit an application.
A rolling application cycle, on the other hand, usually runs throughout the year up until a final deadline, and applications are reviewed as and when they are received.
Both have their pros and cons, with rolling cycles providing greater flexibility regarding submissions, and round-based cycles giving you the opportunity to apply to multiple schools in different rounds, which can provide you with back-up options if you don’t make the cut at your school/s of choice.
Which round should I apply in?
The topic of which round is the best one in which to apply is a little contested, and ultimately it is probably best to apply when you are ready to.
That being said, there can be advantages and disadvantages to each of the rounds. During the first round, there tend to be more places available, as they have not yet been awarded, and so this may be the best round to apply for if you are from an over-represented group or a popular specialization.
There is also some evidence to suggest that Round 1 applications can increase your chances of receiving a scholarship or financial aid.
With many admissions officers stating that there is often no categorical difference between Round 1 and Round 2 admissions, there are however typically more applications received during Round 2, meaning more competition. This being said, Round 2 can be a great option if you need that little bit of extra time, or want to perfect your admissions technique after a failed Round 1 admission (potentially a great reason to save your school of choice until Round 2).
Round 3 is where things can start to become a little trickier, as there may not be a whole lot of places remaining at this point. So unless your application is incredibly good – or incredibly unique – and you have a very good reason to delay your application until this round, it may be best to aim to get your application in in an earlier round.
It is also worth bearing in mind that not only is each school different, but that some schools have more – or less – than 3 rounds of admissions – so be sure to check the specific guidelines for the schools you wish to apply to.
MBA deadlines for 2021-2022
The following deadlines are outlined for full-time, campus-based MBA programs at a range of popular business schools.
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Round 1: September 9, 2021
Round 2: January 5, 2022
Round 3: April 12, 2022
For enrolment in August 2022 for the class of 2024.
Harvard Business School
Round 1: September 8, 2021
Round 2: January 4, 2022
For the class of 2024.
Round 1: September 15, 2021
Round 2: October 15, 2021
Round 3: January 15, 2022
Round 4: March 15, 2022
For the class of 2024.
MIT Sloan School of Management
Round 1: September 28, 2021
Round 2: January 19, 2022
Round 3: April 12, 2022
For August 2022 entry for the class of 2024.
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Round 1: September 23, 2021
Round 2: January 6, 2022
Round 3: April 7, 2022
For the class of 2024.
What do I need to include in my application?
While the exact application materials may vary from school to school, there are some common documents and elements that you are likely to be expected to supply.
Transcripts of degrees and awards
You will likely need the equivalent of a three- or four-year bachelor’s degree to be accepted in any MBA program. This will likely need to be verified through the provision of an official copy of your degree, along with an official or unofficial transcript detailing your grades.
If you have completed additional courses that are relevant to business administration, you may want to provide proof of these too, in addition to proof of any awards you have achieved.
GMAT or GRE
Commonly used by business schools as part of their admissions programs, the GMAT and GRE are standardized tests that help to showcase academic potential. Most schools specify which test they require applicants to take, but some may offer a choice.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, certain schools are waiving the need for either examination – a list of these schools is accessible at the following link.
Whichever school/s you opt to apply to, be sure to check the dates by which they require your GMAT or GRE score, and use this to calculate when you need to have sat the examination by. If your school allows it, you may want to consider allowing time for a retake, should you not get the score you are hoping for the first time round.
Essays are often a fundamental part of any MBA application.
Most often, a statement of purpose is expected, which ought to summarize your intent to apply for the MBA, your professional and academic interests and experience, and your professional goals.
Other essay types may include:
- Goal-oriented essays
- Self-reflection-based essays
- Contribution essays, which highlight impactful personal experiences
- Essays describing leadership experience and achievements that highlight your potential
In addition to assessing the content of your essays, these can also be used to gain a sense of your academic writing ability.
Most schools ask for two references or recommendations, often in the form of one professional and one academic reference.
Be sure to choose recommenders who will not only show you in your best light and comment on your work ethic and commitment, but who are likely to have the time and willingness to respond fully and promptly – this will help to avoid any last minute chasing of references.
Resume or CV
MBA programs will often require you to include an up-to-date CV or resume that reflects your business interests and achievements. This can be a great place to not only showcase the work experience you have amassed, but also to draw attention to any particular leadership positions you might have held.
Business schools often charge a nonrefundable application fee that you will likely have to pay online, with a credit card.
Certain applicants may be exempt from payment, and it is worth checking with your school/s if you think this might apply to you.
For example, waivers may be granted to military applicants on active duty (Stanford) or those who need financial aid (Harvard).
I missed the deadline – can I still apply?
Some business schools allow late applications, but many don’t. If you’ve missed the deadline, you may want to contact the school and ask if they will consider a late submission. Be ready to give a plausible reason for missing the deadline.
If late applications are not allowed, then you will still be able to apply in the next round – or absolute worst case – the following academic year.
What happens if I miss the deadline as an international student?
The impact of missing deadlines can be greater for international applicants as this can have an effect on the timeline for visa applications. In some cases, leniency may be applied for exceptional cases, but it is worth reaching out to your school’s international office for more information.
We can help you meet your MBA application deadline
Worried about compiling your application in time, or uncertain about which round to place your application in?
Here at Admissions Roadmap we have a stellar success rate for getting students admitted to top MBA programs – and we wouldn’t be able to do this if we missed application deadlines!
Whether you are just starting out with your application, or have been rejected by one or more MBA programs, we can help you find a place on an MBA program of your choice.
Reach out to Admissions Roadmap today to find out more.