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MBA Application Deadlines: When Should You Apply for 2022?

Matt Kefford

Matt Kefford - BusinessBecause

Matt Kefford is a writer for BusinessBecause and mba.com.


You’re planning to start your full-time MBA journey in the fall of 2022. So, when should you apply? What are the latest MBA application deadlines for Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, Wharton, and other top business schools?

Making the right decision when it comes to when to apply to business school can impact whether you land a place on your target MBA program and whether you receive an MBA scholarship.

Before you apply, you need to make sure you’re submitting the best possible application. There’s a few things you’ll need to include, and you can find them in our handy application checklist. 

Once your application is ready, you need to choose the right time in the MBA application cycle to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

When is the best time to apply for fall 2022?

The MBA application cycle is typically divided into several application rounds.

Most US business schools have three or four application rounds, with start dates in fall 2022, although start dates and application rounds can vary outside the United States.

Others take applications on a rolling basis, with one final deadline. Columbia Business School, for example, has one final deadline in April 2022.

MBA Application Rounds 2021-22

The above table includes deadlines for the 25 top MBA programs ranked by the Financial Times as well as the M7 Business Schools.

Early Action (EA) Round

Some business schools have an Early Action (EA), or Early Decision, round. If you’re decided on your number one target school and it offers an EA round, this is when you should apply.

Early application shows that you would take that school’s acceptance above all others. Some schools also offer tuition fee discounts if you apply early.

Round 1

EA rounds aside, round one is when every place in the cohort is up for grabs and it means admissions staff have seen fewer applicants when they assess your application. Round one also offers better scholarship opportunities.

“Apply in the early rounds of the admissions cycle, not just to have better chance of securing a place on the program, but also to show commitment and dedication, which will allow you to have better access to different types of scholarships and funding sources,” advises Amir Michael, MBA director at the UK’s Durham University Business School.

For international candidates who have the added difficulty of sorting out a visa and accommodation, it’s also best to apply in round one to give yourself as much time as possible.

If you’re applying for an MBA starting fall 2022, most first round deadlines are in September 2021. Some schools extend into early October.

Round 2

You’ll still have a good chance of success applying in round two, as there will still be places left on your chosen program. Applying later may also give you more time to perfect your application.

Round two deadlines for fall 2022 vary, with most in December 2021 or January 2022.

Round 3+

While you’re advised to apply in rounds one or two, it’s still possible to secure a place at your chosen school with a round three application. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to which round is best. It depends on the school and the candidate,” says MBA admissions consultant Stacy Blackman.

To be successful in round three you’ll have to provide a quality application, and you’ll also have to show how you can bring diversity to the cohort.

The round three MBA applications deadlines for most schools this cycle come up in March or April 2022.

Some schools offer more rounds, University of Cambridge Judge and IESE Business School both offer two extra application rounds, while Spain’s ESADE Business School has eight rounds running until June 2022.

When should you start preparing your MBA application?

Now that you know when to apply, you need to start thinking about when you’ll begin your preparation. You may ask yourself: When should I take the GMAT?

You should aim to take the GMAT at least three months before you apply as this leaves time to retake should something go wrong. This means you should begin revising six months before the application deadline.

As you begin your revision you should also start considering how you’re going to promote yourself in your application. “Genuine, deep reflection that brings out your stories of leadership, growth, impact, and accomplishment is the only way to differentiate yourself,” says Petia Whitmore, founder of admissions consulting firm My MBA Path.

Over the next couple of months you should continue honing your application story and begin working on your MBA resume.

At least two months before submitting your application, after taking the GMAT, you should reach out to the people writing your letters of recommendation. Make sure they understand the story you’re putting forward in your application, and how they can fit within it.

Four weeks out, latest, you should finalize your essay answers and make sure your letters of recommendation are ready. The last thing to do is get somebody else to check over all your material before you apply.

How many schools should you apply to for your MBA?

You should only apply to business schools which suit your goals and interests. You also need to consider the acceptance rates of the schools you’re applying to: Stanford GSB, Harvard Business School, and MIT Sloan may seem a good fit but they also accept less than 15 percent of applicants. 

You should look at applying to two or three safer options, which you’d still be happy to attend, who have acceptance rates above 30 percent.

Next, you’ll want to apply to between three and five schools with lower acceptance rates, but where your application makes you a competitive candidate.

Your dream school may only accept around 10 percent of candidates, but you should still apply provided you’ve sent off applications elsewhere.

In our free Full-Time MBA Application Guide, we provide you with the information and guidance you need to craft MBA applications that elevate your story and help you stand out from the pool of other qualified applicants.


Matt Kefford

Matt Kefford - BusinessBecause

Matt Kefford is a writer for BusinessBecause and mba.com, writing stories and creating social media content covering business education. He's also a contributor to the GMAC Connect Blog.

Matt is an experienced media professional, he’s previously written for national news organizations including The Sunday Times and i News, as well as a number of regional titles. He’s also worked in social media for Sky News.

Matt has a B.A. in History from the University of Leeds and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Sheffield. He is also a gold standard accredited journalist with the National Council for the Training of Journalists.