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Four Reasons to Apply to MBA Programs in Round 3

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As Round 2 interview invitations and decisions roll out, the Round 3 deadlines of leading MBA programs still glimmer on the horizon, holding chances for redemption, acceptance or even just practice. Conventional wisdom in the MBA admissions world suggests it’s best to avoid the final rounds when applying to top business schools, but sometimes circumstances dictate otherwise.

One thing to keep in mind is that all indications suggest that this year could actually be a good one in which to apply in R3. The bump to application volume due to the pandemic is showing signs of fading. A strong job market (particularly in the US and Europe) also means fewer MBA applications. As such, several top programs will likely be scouring R3 applications to round out their class.

Before we delve into some of the specific reasons that applicants might target a late round application or two, let’s look at some of the late round deadlines for the leading schools.

February 22, INSEAD (August Intake)

February 28, UNC Kenan-Flagler

March 15, NYU Stern

March 24, Duke Fuqua

March 25, London Business School

March 28, Dartmouth Tuck

March 29, Texas McCombs

March 30, UPenn Wharton

March 31, Georgetown McDonough

April 4, Michigan Ross

April 6, UVA DardenNorthwestern Kellogg

April 7, Chicago BoothBerkeley Haas

April 12, StanfordCornell JohnsonMIT Sloan, UCLA AndersonYale SOM

Four Reasons to Apply in Round 3

  1. Late to the party
    For some candidates, applying in the final round is the only option for this season. Perhaps you have only recently determined that you plan to go to business school, and earlier rounds were not feasible. While many of the schools you are applying will have already filled a good number of seats in their classes, via the previous rounds, they will still seek out additional candidates in their final round. As such, while the odds may signal that it’s going to be tougher, it’s still worth applying if you know you want to attend business school in the fall. Also, keep in mind that if you are not successful this season, you can always reapply in the fall.
  2. Looking to trade up
    For some candidates, applying in R3 is about expanding your options and seeking admissions to more highly ranked schools. For instance, you may have been admitted to one or more business schools in the earlier rounds, but you want to take a shot at applying to more competitive programs and seek to ‘trade up’. Perhaps you were admitted to all your choices, and now realize you might not have aimed high enough. There’s really not much to lose at this stage by submitting a couple of additional applications. The work you have done with your other applications should help you with your preparations for Round 3. You will of course need to return to your recommenders, to get their support.
  3. Practice Makes Perfect
    The MBA application process is a challenging one and requires extensive self-reflection, organization and work. Even if your R3 application isn’t perfect, it can get you ready to apply next year. The work you do this season will actually help you develop stronger applications next season, if reapplication is necessary.
  4. A Last Chance?
    Finally, you may have failed to gain admission to an MBA program thus far, despite applications in the earlier rounds. At this point, your choice is to forgo the idea of joining an MBA program this fall, and reapply next year, or take a chance on a couple more applications this season by applying in R3. Given the groundwork you have already laid this season, it might well be worthwhile taking a chance at a couple more applications. While Round 3 is tougher your applications should be stronger based on your previous application work.

If you are planning applications in Round 3, we would like to wish you the best of luck!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.