There is no one single preference for business schools when it comes to the admissions process and timeline. Even universities within the same country or region may have entirely different policies and deadlines for MBA applicants. While some institutions stipulate one or several dates throughout the year by which applicants need to submit their application documents, others accept applications on a rolling basis until the slots in the programme are filled. This is why if you are planning to apply to an MBA programme in the upcoming year, you need to start preparing your application package as soon as possible.
Of course, preparing and submitting a successful application is not possible without first having thought about your own educational and career goals for the future. The process for almost every MBA applicant begins in the same way – by doing some research into different business schools and their programmes, their specific requirements, and even the career prospects following graduation.
When to begin your application preparation
The time you will need to prepare your application will mainly depend on the specific B-school requirements and on your own pace of study and level of preparation. If you already have the necessary test scores for MBA admission such as GMAT or GRE and a language certificate such as TOEFL or IELTS, then half of the application process has been taken care of. However, if any of those tests are required for admission to your desired programme and you have never taken them before, you will definitely need some extra time for planning. You will have to take care of the technical aspects such as registering for an early enough test date and, of course, dedicating sufficient time to prepare for the tests. If you rush through the process and underestimate the difficulty of the tests, your final scores and your overall application may suffer.
For international applicants, it is especially important to submit their complete application package as early as possible, however – without compromising its quality. Many business schools advise that international students apply before the final deadline for their programme so as to allow enough time for visa processing as well as for other logistics. If you are determined to move to a different country or even continent for your MBA studies, start researching your options and set up your individual timeline as early as one year before the start of the programme.
What you need for your application
So how many, and what kind of, documents do B-schools require to justify such an early start to your research and preparation? Next to the aptitude test score and language certificate mentioned above, universities usually ask applicants to write and submit one or several essays. The application essay can address various topics depending on what admission directors from a particular programme find most important. You may be asked to explain your motivation for obtaining an MBA degree, your choice of school, career goals or other aspects that are clarified by the B-school in advance.
Check out: Be Yourself During the MBA Video Essay
You will also find out that some universities ask for one or two letters of recommendation from a current or previous employer. Even though this may seem a much less time-consuming requirement compared to the rest of the documents you might have to compile, anticipate a month to get your recommendations, as they will be prepared by busy professionals. Do not underestimate the value of a genuine and well-written recommendation. Choose someone who knows your work, your professional qualities, and soft skills, as a recommender.
As you have probably understood by now, there is no one standard way of approaching your MBA application. Consult the official websites, information brochures or school profiles of the programmes that you believe will advance your professional and personal goals. After that you should be able to narrow down the list further and move to the next steps of preparing your application package.
Application deadlines of top international MBA programmes