When to Apply for an MBA

Joe McGoldrick
June 30, 2022 · 6 min read

We all know how long the application process for a degree can be. So, when should you apply for it if you want adequate time to prepare?

Timing is one factor that contributes to your overall application and can increase or decrease your chances of getting your MBA application accepted. So, follow along as we help you get the perfect timing!

The Short Answer

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer since online MBA programs differ in their deadlines. However, most business schools have application rounds, about three to four a year, with the semester starting during fall.

In other words, the business school will receive your application during any round; however, the acceptance rates tend to be lower in the last round. Still, you’ll have to refer to an MBA program’s website for its exact application deadline and rounds. Any late submissions will probably not be checked.

At Nexford, our programs start every month, so you don’t have to wait for the next semester to start! Instead, you can apply and enroll ten days before the beginning of the month. This way, you’ll have time to finish the orientation and get accustomed to our distance learning environment.

What if you don’t have your application documents ready? It might take you one and a half or even two years to prepare everything for your application. And the duration depends on how selective the business school is and how hard it is to get to. In it, you can prepare an extracurricular portfolio and get updated standardized test scores.

Preparing for the Application

If you have all your documents ready, it can take about seven minutes to fill out the Nexford application. But what if you don’t have them ready? Then, it’ll probably be best to spend time putting your documents together.

Ideally, you want a year and a half before the application deadline. This way, you can get your tests done, build your extracurricular profile, complete community service, get leadership experience, and refine your overall academic and professional record.

Of course, before you take any standardized test, you’ll need to put in the effort and practice a lot to get the best score.

For instance, you should revise for the GMAT test six months before applying for the MBA program and take the test three months beforehand. This should give you time to retake it if you don’t get the best results. After all, your GMAT, GRE, or other test scores play a significant part in your admission.

Additionally, starting the application process early allows you to devote sufficient time to perfect every component of your MBA application, including the resume, recommendation letters, and essay. Also, you might want to rewrite your essay, do several rounds of edits, or even hire a consultant.

After submission, you can’t edit your files. However, some business schools, like Nexford, allow you to upload missing documents. They might even let you provide updated GMAT scores and additional recommendations in the few weeks following your submission.

It’d be best to start by preparing for your standardized tests. At the same time, you can refine your resume and work on your essay questions. As for recommendation letters, you want to request them at least two months before applying for your MBA degree.

Tip: Ensure that the people who write your recommendation letters are on the same page with you on how you want to present yourself.

Then, finalize your essay questions at least four weeks before application. And the last step would be to get another person to look over all your documents.

Thankfully, a Nexford application isn’t that demanding, so you’ll be able to put it together quickly. To demonstrate, we need proof of your Bachelor’s degree at a business-related accredited institution, your official diploma, and a transcript.

However, if your Bachelor’s degree isn’t business-related, you can take four foundation courses before your MBA core courses.

Additionally, we need an official transcript from a university or college and a minimum passing score on an approved English qualification exam during the last two years. Finally, a resume can help personalize your learning path. As you see, Nexford application prep is easy, making education more accessible.

Submitting the Application

We’ve covered when you should start preparing your application, so let’s delve into submission deadlines. Although they vary across business schools and programs, there are general timelines. But the best way to learn when to apply for an MBA is via the business school’s website.

At Nexford, you have a lot of freedom regarding deadlines. You can apply whenever and enroll in the program starting at the beginning of the next month or on any date you want in the future.

For example, you can apply on May 27th and start your program on June 1st. Even better, we’ll give you an admissions decision within seven days! And if you miss the deadline or aren’t successful, you can work on your application and try again the month after.

In comparison, most business schools have admission rounds. In other words, they offer three application rounds, sometimes four or more.

Round One

Round one can start as early as September or October. It’s the most favorable round for submitting applications because most slots are open and there’s a lot of scholarship money. Also, you’ll learn the school’s decision early (by November or December), which gives you plenty of time to prepare for the MBA program or re-apply.

Accordingly, it’d be best if you aimed to get your application done in time for the first round, but don’t rush it. After all, admissions committees always prefer quality over speed.

Round Two

From December to January, business schools tend to accept second-round applications; they make their decisions about two to three months later.

Fortunately, you have almost as much chance of acceptance in this round as in the first. That’s because there are enough places in many programs. Also, you’ll have time to formulate the best application. And if your application is rejected, you have some time to apply for another school’s round three.

With that in mind, it isn’t surprising that the second round is when most applicants submit their MBA applications.

Round Three

Round three begins in March or April of the following year. We don’t recommend submissions in the last round for MBA applicants because there may be few spots and little scholarship money left.

Accordingly, it’s usually difficult to have your application accepted in the third round, as it’s the most competitive. However, if you’re a good candidate, you have a solid chance of acceptance.

If you’re applying for an on-campus program in a different country, you need enough time to apply for a visa and sort out accommodation, which the final round won’t give you. Otherwise, you don’t have to worry about that if you’re applying for an online MBA program.

Should You Start Your MBA Program Immediately After College?

No, if you’re a fresh graduate, this may not be the right time to get an MBA degree for many reasons. Firstly, some fresh graduates continue down the education route because they find the workspace intimidating. If that’s the case, delaying the inevitable does nothing to solve the problem, and the best choice would be to get some work experience.

Secondly, you can get the most out of an MBA program if you’ve worked before. To elaborate, you’ll be able to relate the information you’re consuming to real-life scenarios.

Work experience in various fields helps you choose the business field you want to work in. Accordingly, you can pick an MBA concentration that serves you rather than a general MBA degree.

Thirdly, an MBA degree may not be enough to get you hired. Although MBA degrees have their weight in a resume, they’re only part of the equation. Many hiring managers demand work experience along with it.

With that being said, if you’ve decided to get a Nexford MBA degree right out of college, it’s possible. Although it’s better to have it, we don’t require work experience. But Nexford programs are practical, meaning that you’ll get on-the-job skills.

Final Thoughts

Application deadlines differ across online MBA programs, but there’s a general timeline. Most business schools have three rounds of admissions.

So, the first is usually in September or October, and the second is in December to January, followed by the third in March or April. Applying in the first or second rounds is recommended, as they’re less competitive.

However, at Nexford, submission deadlines are more flexible. Accordingly, you can apply whenever, as we have programs starting at the beginning of each month. So, just prepare your documents, and take this step to further your career!

Ready to take the next step Download our brochure or book a call with our Nexford Advisors!

About the author
Joe McGoldrick
Joe McGoldrick

Known for strategy and attention to detail

Joe has more than 10 years of marketing experience, working within the public sector, client-side, and agency side.

He is passionate about using data and customer insights to improve marketing performance.

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