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Which is the Ideal Round to Apply in?


The process of applying for a masters’ 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 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! 

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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.




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!

If you need help with the application process and want to make this process a little easier on yourself, Contact us at info@mim-essay.com.

Here is a YouTube video on Which is the Ideal Round to Apply? 

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