MBA admissions timeline: Your essential b-school application guide

Don't rush the MBA admissions process.

By U2B Staff 

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If you’re aspiring to get into a top MBA programme, the MBA admissions process can throw your applications off guard if not prepared timely. 

There are admissions tests and interviews to prepare for, essays to write, a résumé to polish in addition to finding the right people to write your reference letters to bolster your MBA application.


Between all the steps above, you might wonder: when should you start preparing to apply for business school to ensure a smooth MBA admissions process? 

At which point in the MBA admissions cycle should you take your GMAT or GRE? Which application round should you apply for?

MBA admissions experts share some tips with the US News and World Report, which we have summarised here.

The MBA admissions process timeline

One and a half to two years

Menlo Coaching founding partner David White says a year and a half to two years is the optimal amount of time to prepare to apply to business school.

But why the long time frame? This gives applicants room to bolster areas where they’re weak in or need improvements.

“Although some MBA applicants may succeed with last-minute applications, the ideal timeline begins long before the application deadlines with tasks like building your extracurricular profile, getting the tests done in advance, and spending time to network with MBA programmes through info sessions and other events,” White was quoted saying.

Between nine and six months 

Do some research to identify which schools offer the best fit for your professional goals roughly nine months before the intake of your choice. 

Consider applying to several schools “including at least one reach school, at least one safety school and a school where their test scores, grades and work experience match the typical student, except in rare cases where only one school matches a prospective student’s requirements” said the report.

Consider the number of intakes are on offer and prepare to apply about six months before the intake of your choosing.

American University’s Kogod School of Business director of graduate admissions sums it up perfectly when he says: “You should apply for the round when you feel that your application is strongest.”

Apart from focusing on your best application, rather than your quickest, he also notes that there are some benefits to applying early, including the possibility of there being more space and scholarship available. 

This is also the time for you to request recommendation letters and start preparing for your GMAT/GRE.


Three months before the application deadline

Take your admissions test and start drafting your essays. 

Take this period to continuously review and revise your application before finally submitting it for your preferred MBA programmes.

MBA admissions

You’ll want to prepare for the MBA interview after submitting your applications. Some schools invite students within a month of the application being received. 

Not all applicants will receive an interview invitation; if you did not receive one, it’s likely that your application has been rejected.