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Should you apply in Round 1 for your Masters / MBA?

In our previous blogs we have talked about the various benefits of Masters in Management programs, how to choose between MBA and MIM courses and the key differences between the two programs. Today, however, we will touch upon a subject which is common to both, MBA and Masters in Management, programs - when should you apply to them?

should you apply to MBA in round 1

The journey of an applicant for higher education is pretty complicated. There are multiple decisions that the candidates have to take, right from identifying the need for a higher degree to choosing the schools to apply to, and from which experiences to highlight in their applications to what to wear during the interview!

One question, however, that often isn’t given enough importance - but has tremendous consequences - is “when is the best time to submit the application?”

If you are applying for Sep 2020 intake, the admission process would actually begin around July 2019, or maybe even a tad bit earlier for most of the top b-schools.

Most of the top business schools start their admission process way before the selected candidates actually show up in the class - almost 13-14 months before the classes begin. So, in practical terms what it means is that if you are applying for Sep 2020 intake, the admission process would actually begin around July 2019, or maybe even a tad bit earlier for most of the top b-schools.

Another point worth mentioning here is that most b-schools conduct their admissions in multiple rounds. This helps in segmenting (which makes their work easier while going through thousands of applications), filling out the seats in a regular flow, and even in locking the prospective students with lucrative scholarship offers.

The best time to apply is when you feel that your application is complete.

While some schools have fixed number of rounds - HBS has 2, while Stanford has 3 - some schools might even have a rolling admissions policy, for instance, Columbia - which means that they assess the incoming applications on a regular basis and only have a final deadline when no more applications can be submitted.

Now comes the big question - among all these rounds, when is the best time for you to apply?

I wish there was a simple answer.

First things first, the best time to apply is when you feel your application is complete, and you cannot make any more short-term improvements in it. For example, if you have a good GMAT score, and you cannot make any significant improvements in your work profile in the coming 3-6 months, then you are ready to apply.

Second, apply as early as possible. Ideally, this would mean Round 1.

There are several benefits that come with applying in Round 1.

  1. Lower number of applications: Your application is often judged in comparison to the other received applications. Add to this the fact that usually Round 1 sees a lower number of applications compared to Round 2. Combine these two together and you get a better chance of making your profile stand out in front of the AdComs.

  2. Scholarship Options: Being the first ones to apply also means that all the scholarship options are available for you! In fact, some top scholarships (such as Eiffel Scholar in France) might even be available only if you apply in the first round.

  3. Quick Decisions and Clarity: Applying early also means that you get your admission decisions fairly early. This helps you immensely in making your plans - if you have your dream admit, you can start planning your move, if not then you can start applying to schools in Round 2.

So, which round are you applying? Tell us in the comments below.

In case you are wondering if you should apply to the best MIM and MBA programs, then get in touch with us at

Piyush Ranjan is the chief consultant for Management Masters. He did his undergrad from IIT-BHU, and then studied at the SIM program of the University of St. Gallen. He has helped multiple students get admission calls from HEC Paris, ESSEC Business School, ISB and other top Business schools worldwide.

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