The new Round 1 deadline date for the Class of 2021 is 5 September, 2018, while Round 2 is 4 January, 2019, the school said, adding it will retain a spring round for applicants to its 2+2 deferred admissions program.

Estimations show that round three accounts for fewer than 5% of HBS’s incoming class of roughly 930 MBAs in recent years, Poets and Quants (P&Q) reported.

Decision to impact rival schools

HBS’s decision will have consequences for rival schools. HBS will no longer need to carry candidates on a waitlist into a final round, which means that the earlier release of those applicants will speed up admission decisions at other schools.

Check out: MBA Application: Round 1, Round 2, or Round 3?

Chad Losee, who became managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid two years ago, wrote in a blog post:

Getting a decision earlier will give admitted students better access to on-campus housing, more cohort options for HBX CORe, and more time for visa processing. For students admitted in Round 3 in the past, the timing has always been tight. We know it takes a lot to finish up a job and move to a new city and we hope the additional time will be helpful to admits on a number of fronts. And given that we’ve seen more applicants in Rounds 1 an 2 and fewer in Round 3 in recent years, this change feels consistent with the choices you are making about when to apply.

In an interview with P&Q, Losee noted that the move was designed to give the Class of 2021 a jump on planning ahead for the September and January deadlines. In other words, it was part of HBS’ continuous improvement process in admissions to make the process more efficient, student-centric, and transparent. He said:

When we bring students to interview on campus we plan a whole day of events for them with students and faculty to get a sense for what that’s like here. That has been harder to do in round three because students and faculty are in finals so they won’t have as complete a picture of what HBS is. We get to know the applicants and we hope the applicants get to know us as well as they can so they can make an informed decision.

Most successful applicants prepare their applications early

Admission consultants see little to no impact on their business. Matt Symonds, co-founder and partner of MBA admissions consulting firm Fortuna Admissions, told P&Q:

The most successful applicants prepare their applications six to 12 months ahead. If anything this only reinforces the time and thoughtfulness that the best candidates put into their MBA applications. The international pool targets round one and two. My colleagues, in their former admission roles, always speak about these schools being round agnostic between one and two and equally comfortable with applicants in either round. Round three has always been the Hail Mary Pass so it will change little.

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of, another consulting firm, believes the move makes sense.

The process of applying to HBS and business schools has become something most applicants now plan several years in advance. The ‘snap app’ cohort, kids who wake up in March to jam an app in  for matric next September, is a demo HBS no longer needs.

Sources: Harvard Business School, Poets and Quants