University Admissions Blog
ANNOUNCEMENTS & ADVICE
Hello! And welcome to the second of my two-part article on the frequently asked questions about pursuing an MBA in the United States.
Which round should I apply?
One of the most important decisions to impact your application is when you intend to apply, and it needs to be considered strategically.
Most business schools process applications in one of three rounds. Some offer 4, but it is uncommon.
The candidates who apply in round 1 are often considered to be the most serious and best prepared. For those reasons, more applicants are selected in round 1 than rounds 2 and 3.
However, round 2 also sees strong candidates, and chances for admission don’t drop much. Because of this, it can make sense to apply in round 2 rather than round 1 - especially if the additional time will help you prepare a better application. It can also make sense to apply to a competitive program in round 2 if you know your application will be stronger than the “standard” round 2 applicant.
Because it is often challenging to complete all of your MBA applications by round 1, making an application timeline is helpful. To do this, you need to consider the caliber of applicant by program and round, and you need to consider decision deadlines to give yourself the best possible outcome.
And as for applying rounds 3 or 4 - unless you’re applying to Emory, Ross, Cornell, or UNC (which have similar acceptance rates for each round) consider applying next year. Statistically, your chances of admission drop significantly after round 2.
When should I begin my application?
As soon as possible. I cannot stress this enough: you need to give yourself a lot of time to prepare a strong MBA application. I suggest giving yourself 4-5 months to properly research programs, draw strong connections between your past experiences and academic/career goals, write several personal statement and resume drafts, find recommenders (and possibly write your LORs), and tailor each application to the program. The process for each school is different, in depth, and time consuming.
Should I select an MBA concentration?
Similar to undergraduate majors, concentrations consist of courses in a specific business area and are taken on top of the MBA requirements. MBA concentrations are popular in the United States, with some schools even requiring them.
But is an MBA concentration the right choice for you? That depends. Concentrations are especially helpful for two reasons: they better prepare you for a career path that interests you, and they help your job resume stand out against other recent MBA graduates. However, some universities are simply known for graduating students who are strong in one area over another, so a concentration may be unnecessary. Stanford, for example, doesn’t offer a concentration in entrepreneurship because it is already established as a leader in the arena.
The most common MBA concentrations are: Business Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Information Technology, International Business, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. However, there are many more to choose from. Because you are not expected to take your concentration requirements until your second year, you do not have to select it straight away.
That said, it is good to have an idea of your intended concentration(s) as you research and apply for MBA programs to make sure they fit your personal interests or criteria.
Can I apply for an MBA if I have poor grades?
Yes. Many candidates with low grades are admitted, but you need to either explain extenuating circumstances (such as an illness or family emergency) that resulted in your poor grades, or you need to accumulate strong post-undergraduate business experience.
Please contact me if I can help you with your MBA applications or answer any further questions you have on the process. Best of luck, everyone!