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Should I Apply for an MBA Degree in Round 3?

Should I Apply for an MBA Degree in Round 3?

Round 3 is the final application round for most American business schools and the most competitive round to apply in, since schools would have already filled up a significant portion of their classrooms and you would now be competing with a larger pool of applicants for fewer spots. The reason why schools still have Round 3 is they receive strong and inspiring applications every year in this round.

Here are a few factors one should consider, if you are aiming at Round 3:

1. Your background and profile are strong:  Most schools, at this time, look to fill the gaps in the diversity of their classroom through Round 3. Diversity is defined by how you stand out in terms of having an interesting and different background and goals that could be, but are not necessarily, related to your professional success. For instance, starting up your own draft beer business that you plan to scale across South Asia, or leading a nonprofit focused on revolutionizing urban sanitation across developing countries. Profiles having traditional backgrounds in finance and consulting are likely to have a harder time in Round 3, since a number of applications admitted in the first two rounds would have similar backgrounds, unless you are also including uncommon leadership experiences and you consistently pursued uncommon interests. Diversity could also mean the number of years of work experience you have. If you graduated from college more than five years ago, you may want to consider Round 3, since some programs may focus on attracting younger students in the first two rounds.

2. You have a compelling story for WHY you are applying in Round 3: Admissions committees are interested in why you chose to apply in Round 3. You can use the optional essay to explain your reasons. You may include family and health emergencies, or significant changes in your workload such as time-critical, large-scale projects, all of which should be explained clearly. Wait to apply in Round 1 or Round 2 in the fall if you are only considering Round 3 because you were rejected from your top choice schools or you were not considering business school at all until now. You need to structure your application, do your homework on the schools, reach out to potential recommenders, and really think about how you want to position yourself through your essays.

3. You are applying to differently structured MBA programs: If you are applying to Executive Education and Part Time MBA programs, like the Saturday and Evening MBA Programs at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and at NYU Stern, they tend to have later deadlines. Deferred admissions programs like the Harvard Business School 2+2 program may be worth considering if you are applying directly after your final year in college, since schools are not largely focusing on curating a perfect class, but rather are adjudicating primarily based on the strength of your application and potential fit at the school. It is important to note that each school, program and circumstance is unique and needs to be well researched.

4. You are in the final stages of your application: If you still have not taken your standardized tests like the GMAT and TOEFL, you should probably wait till Round 1 of the following year, depending of course on how much time you need to study. Rushing the entirety of your application is most likely to be perceptible to the admissions committee. Additionally, you also want to ensure that your academic profile is within the median range of the admitted applicants’ GMAT scores and GPAs at each school.If, however, you are content with the quality of your application, and need to finalize only a few components, Round 3 could be for you. You want to make sure that you put the best possible application forward.


ReachIvy is a premium education and career advisory that helps aspiring students get accepted into top tier educational institutions globally. We have successful admits at MIT, Columbia, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, London School of Economics, University of Michigan, Oxford, University of Chicago amongst others.

Vibha Kagzi, Founder and CEO, ReachIvy, holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University. She has also pursued courses at the University of California, Berkeley, the London School of Economics and the Indian School of Business.

Our global team of counsellors have also acquired their degrees from premier institutes and are passionate about sharing their experiences with students worldwide.