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Which is the Ideal Round to Apply in?

Choosing the Best Round to Apply

The process of applying for a master's degree is no piece of cake. It requires a lot of hard work, patience and some strong research. The average cost for just the application form of one university is about 75$.

Usually students apply to a number of universities to maximise their chances of selection. So, the price of just the application forms itself is a hefty investment. Therefore, it is of vital importance that you apply in the right round, to maximise your chances of getting accepted. The first question which would pop up in your mind, is, “How many rounds are there?”

You Have a Handful of Rounds to Choose From.

If you are a B-School aspirant, you would appreciate getting acquainted with some important details and facts. On the top of the list is that you have to consider deadlines and rounds. They vary in stages from the early action round till round 6. Timing is the most essential element here and it majorly defines your parameter of acceptance since it is the first step in getting into your most coveted college.

Next, you ought to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of applying in each round, so that you make an informed decision without getting hassled. This is a crucial step as applying for each university requires a lot of hard work, in terms of preparing your SOP, LORs, essays and resume.

First off, you might be surprised to know that there are 2 types of admissions: Rolling admissions and Round admissions.


1. Rolling Admissions

The term ‘Rolling’ means that institutions accept and respond to applications on a rotating basis. They offer a large application window for students -sometimes six months or longer -and the response to such an application is received in a short while (usually within 4 to 8 weeks) as compared to waiting for a top business school deadline.

This kind of admission is best suited for those early birds, who have their complete application package ready, because the sooner you apply, the less competition you will face, the more are your chances of getting accepted. But keep in mind that, as you keep delaying submitting your application package, the probability of hearing the “good news” gets reduced. So, hurry up!

2. Round Admissions

The underlying difference lies in the time it takes to respond, for rolling being the earliest and shortest as compared to round admissions, where the response is received after the next round begins preceding the completion of one round.

They typically have three to four rounds which denote the time span during which they accept applications -during fall, winter or spring. Some schools have around 6 rounds.

Here is the full-length analysis of each of the rounds. Assess yourself accordingly.

The First Round (Aug-Oct)


It is one of the most crucial rounds. The application submitted in this round is a reflection of all the perspiration you’ve put into GMAT, cultivating extracurricular activities and seeking out leadership opportunities at college or volunteering for the same. Early application depicts seriousness and planning.

Statistically,  when competing with a pool of equally talented candidates. In the first round, there are no seats filled. All the seats are up for grabs.

Hence, the selection committee is not too picky about whom they choose. If they happen to like your profile, they give you a chance to prove yourself by selecting you for the Interview round. It might also result in a chance for a scholarship.

The number of slots available is more in first round and the opportunity to be placed stands a higher chance in the wait list if you choose this round.

NOTE: In case you fail to clear round one, you have a chance to apply for round two.


Some schools may decide to wait until the next rounds to see the quality of applicants coming in the further rounds. Hence, they might just fill 15 to 20% of their seats. So, applicants having an average profile might be asked to wait, until the further rounds.

Also, if your GMAT results are not up to the mark and you plan to give it later then it would be better to appear for the second round.

The Second Round (Oct-Jan)


This round happens at the time of fall, for which campus visits can be easily managed. It provides a worthwhile time for preparation, drafting essays and demonstrating the right fit for the school.

Also, if you feel you have to retake the GMAT, or need some extra time to polish your profile (read- doing some online courses, extra activities, or substantially adding work experience), the second round is perfect for you.

Since the highest numbers of applicants are received in this round, the competition is fierce as the comparison is done with round two and round one candidates collectively. The chance of getting an upper hand in the short listing procedure gets tougher with the next round.

The increased volume eventually leads to longer processing time and some schools include this round’s applicants to a waiting list whose chances for interviewing also gets lessened.

The Third or Fourth Rounds (Feb-Apr)


No points for guessing that, there are no such significant advantages of applying in the third/fourth rounds as these are the last rounds. Since 50+% of the seats have been filled up by the majority of the candidates who have applied for the first and second round, you need to back your application with excellent essays, LORs and SOP to give yourself a fair chance.


Although, a strong application will stand out even in this round in comparison to a weak application in any of the preceding rounds, it’s a risky game. Remember that, most of the schools are looking to diversify their batch of students.

For example, if the admission committee receives an application from a candidate in third round, who has a similar kind of profile of a student who has already been selected in the earlier rounds, then the chances of selection for the candidate in the third round is low.

TIP: If you are applying in the third/fourth round, your main focus should be on your complete application package. Write your essays with a holistic approach. Make sure your Letters of Recommendations highlight your strongest areas. Your Statement of Purpose must be a crisp summary of your profile and how you are planning to utilise the resources of the university that you are applying in.

Which Round of the MBA Application Process Should You Use?

Your selection regarding which MBA application round to submit your application to depends on a number of variables. The following are some things to think about while choosing which MBA application deadline round to apply to:

  1. Readiness for Applications
  2. Target Business School Ranking
  3. Applicant from abroad

Applications are Prepared


It is advised to apply during the Early Decision Round or Round 1 if you have finished your GMAT and polished your other application materials, including your resume, letters of recommendation, and other supporting documents.

It is advised to apply in Round 2 if you are still perfecting your essays or other components of your MBA application. The additional time may be used to ensure that your MBA application is as great as it can be.

Ranking of the Target Business School

It is important to apply early if you are attempting to get into one of the Top 15 MBA schools. The acceptance rate for the following rounds (i.e., Round 3 & Round 4) is much lower since the best business schools get a huge volume of strong applications for their MBA programs.

Worldwide Applicants

Business schools advise foreign students to submit their applications early in Round 1 or Round 2. This is because overseas applicants need longer time for visa processing and other prerequisites.

Additionally, many business schools do not accept overseas students for the final phases of application review. Check the admissions requirements of the business schools you're interested in to discover more.

Why Should you Apply in Round 1 or Round 2 for MBA Admission?

It is desirable to submit an application in Round 1 because none of the seats are filled in the first round. Early candidates typically have an edge over those who apply in later rounds at business schools.

This is due to the fact that the second application round is often the most extensive and competitive. Due to the fact that the large majority of seats are already filled, the third round will be considerably more contested.

Additional Benefits of Applying Early Include the Following:

By submitting your application sooner, you can contact the financial aid office of the business school to learn more about scholarships and fellowships before the deadline for responding to your admissions offer.

Gives you additional time to finish the advised language and math curriculum before you arrive on university.
In certain circumstances, business schools' on-campus housing lotteries are more accessible to applicants who submit their applications earlier.

It is crucial to keep in mind that the optimal time to apply is when you feel that your MBA application is at its most polished.

What is the Deadline for Early Decision MBA Applications?


Some business schools may offer an Early Decision application deadline in addition to the standard admission processes for their MBA programs. Students who apply in this Round typically hear back before applicants for regular selection.

If you submit an application within the Early Decision MBA Application Deadlines, keep the following in mind:

Your commitment to enrol in the business school is indicated by: By submitting an early decision application, you are telling the business school that they are your top choice and that you intend to enrol if accepted. You might benefit from the MBA early decision round if you have done your research on MBA programs and are confident that a certain business school is your top pick for an MBA. Early decision dates are also available to reapplicants.

Possible Non-Refundable Deposit: If you are accepted into an MBA school after applying through the early decision Round, you may need to pay a non-refundable deposit. Additionally, a lot of early action alternatives require you to withdraw your applications to other business schools and commit to attending that specific business school. It is crucial to do your study and determine whether or not applying in the early decision round is right for you.

Your next professional step could be to get an MBA. The answer can be yes if your objectives involve moving up the corporate ladder, starting your own firm, or becoming an authority in a certain field of business. To assist you learn more about your possibilities for business schools and what you can accomplish with an MBA, U.S. News is here. In order to present prospective business school students with information and expertise that can aid in their decision-making, we employ statistics and expert interviews.

Including part-time programmes and specialities like business analytics and accounting, we analyse data to identify the best business schools. Additionally, we offer biographies for each institution that include details like the admission rate and tuition costs. Create a Business School Compass account to have access to this information and more.

Learn more about U.S. News' collection of information to help you get ready for business school, such as how job experience affects MBA admissions, the main distinctions between the GRE and the GMAT, and how to pick the program that best suits your objectives.

When Should I Send in my Application for Business School?


Typically, prospective students can apply to business schools three or four times a year. You have a greater chance of being admitted during the earlier application rounds since there are often more slots - and scholarship funds - available. Generally speaking, rounds one and two take place in the fall, round three in the spring, although specific dates should be confirmed with the colleges you are considering.

However, you shouldn't rush to submit your application as early submission might cost you a position in the programme. Apply when you're confident in your abilities since it takes time to write a personal statement, develop a professional résumé, and, if necessary, sit for an exam. A year and a half to two years before the application process, you should begin preparing for business school applications.

Timeline That You Can Follow

It is advised to start out by zeroing in on the country/college you want to target. Research about their deadlines and finalise which round you want to apply in.

If the college requires you to give GRE/GMAT, then give yourself roughly 3 to 5 months to prepare for it. Simultaneously, take up our Free Profile Evaluation to evaluate where you stand. Work on your weaker areas to improve your chances of getting accepted. Also, start working on your essays, LORs, SOP and resume well in advance so that they reflect your overall personality.

Diving into this process without a well-thought-out plan can be dangerous. That’s why we have crafted this detailed blog post about the application timeline that you can follow or refer to.

To sum up, deciding which round to apply in is as crucial as deciding which university to do your masters in. Ponder on the above in-depth analysis of the rounds, and make the right decision.

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