MBA Application Timeline for Fall 2016 – Part 1

MBA application timeline 2016

This MBA application timeline is intended for those of you who wish to begin their MBA studies in the autumn of 2016 in US business schools, a.k.a. fall 2016 intake. It can help you stay on schedule and on the right track, as well as build your action plan for 2016.

Now is indeed the right time to get things rolling. The earliest application deadlines of top US schools may be as soon as the beginning of September 2016. Not much time left. Here are the milestones of the MBA application timeline for the first part of the year.

January – March 2016

Research and select schools

Start your research to identify business schools and MBA programmes that match both your career goals and your potential. Start by creating your own detailed list of selection criteria. Find details in the article “Which Are the Best MBA Rankings?”. This tool will be instrumental for your focused research, especially because there are an overwhelming number of MBA offerings worldwide.

You can also try our School Finder tool in order to find the programme which suits you best.

At this stage you should look into your short-term and mid-term goals, clarify how you expect that an MBA will help you achieve them. Do not limit yourself to the top schools in media rankings. Be open to different options. Research different programmes in detail. You will be taking final decisions at a later stage.

Prepare for the GMAT

GMAT is an important element of the selection process for US business schools. Moreover, the average GMAT scores at top US B-schools are on the rise.

Focused preparation for the GMAT takes between three and four months. Successful test takers have reported that they invested about 100 hours for study and practice, according to GMAC surveys. The speed of preparation depends on many factors, such as your starting level, type of preparation and progress. It is important to note that your score on mock GMAT tests will be higher than on the real GMAT. See some of the reasons in “Why my real GMAT score is lower”.  After your core preparation, allow enough time to practise full-length timed GMAT tests. This is essential for your success.

You can test your skills on our Free GMAT Practice Test

May – June 2016

Take the GMAT

Book a test date early on, so that you have a choice of dates and time slots during which you will be most efficient. There are two reasons not to postpone the GMAT. First, your actual GMAT score will help you shortlist your targeted schools, because your score should be close to or above the average for each programme. Second, it is wise to allow time to retake the GMAT if you feel you did not perform at your best on the first test. You can retake no sooner than 30 days after the first test. Finally, it takes time for your official score to reach the admissions offices. It is perfectly fine to report your score even before you have started the application.

Shortlist schools

When you have a realistic orientation about your GMAT score, or as soon as you have your actual score, you can shortlist the schools where you will apply. Depending on how good your score is, you can select the best schools among those identified in your initial research at which you have chances for admission. Your objective is not just to apply, but to gain admission. Isn’t it?

In the first part of the MBA application timeline you should aim to achieve the best selection of business schools adequate for you, and achieve a GMAT score as high as you can. These are both elements of the application process which are entirely within your control. The quality of your work at this stage has crucial implications on the actual application process and your chances for admission.

I will discuss the next steps in MBA Application Timeline Part 2 of this article. In the meantime, I look forward to your questions and comments.

Read MBA Application Timeline for the Fall 2016 Intake – Part 2

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30 thoughts on “MBA Application Timeline for Fall 2016 – Part 1”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for taking the time to provide this info. Is there any site where i can get the 2016 deadlines for R1 or early decision for top 50 universities for MBA?

    1. Hello Ralph,

      The new application deadlines (fall 2016 intake) will be announced in June 2015. We usually publish them in the forum as they are announced. You can have a look at the dates for 2015 for orientation.

      The earliest Round 1 deadline last year was that of Harvard Business School – early September. The majority of R1 deadlines are by mid October.

      Hope this helps.
      Best regards!

  2. When do schools open their application for fall 2016 intake? When can I actually begin uploading all the paperwork? ALso, when do schools release their essay questions??

    1. Hello David O,

      Top US business schools usually open the new application process in June. So, expect the 2016 application deadlines, essay topics, etc. in June 2015.

      I hope this helps. Best regards!

  3. Hi,

    I will start preparing for entrance exam from next month onwards. Am I already late to join 2016 MBA programme ? Is it possible for me to take the test in the second half of 2015 and still apply for good MBA schools ?

    1. Hello Riddhi G,

      Yes, it is possible to take admissions tests in the second half of 2015 and still manage to apply for admission for the fall 2016 intake. However, be advised that some b-schools have application deadlines in September-mid October (such as the First Round application deadlines of top US b-schools). Second round deadlines of US b-schools are early in January 2016. European b-schools have later deadlines.

      Plan for 3-4 months for test preparation. You may need to retake the tests in order to achieve the best score you can.
      Let me know if you have any further questions.

      Best regards,
      Iliana Bobova
      Head of Admissions Consulting

  4. Hi Abhishek,

    The new application process will be open sometime in June. Then you will be able to see the F16 intake application requirements, essay topics, etc.

    If you have taken the GMAT already and if you have shortlisted the business schools to which you will apply, you can send your GMAT score now. You do not need to wait for the new application cycle to be opened. Your official GMAT score report will be filed and stored waiting for the rest of your application package.

    If you have taken the GMAT, you should order additional score reports to be sent to the schools of your choice. If you are still to take the GMAT, you have several options for reporting your scores. Briefly – option one is to list the score recipients on the test day and then scores will automatically be sent. Up to five official score reports are covered by the test fee. Option two is to wait for the final score report and then decide whether and where to send scores. In this case there is a fee for sending additional score reports.

    Last summer, a new GMAT score reporting and cancellation policy was introduced. You can find details in these articles:

    New GMAT Score Reporting Policy

    New GMAT Rules Call for New Strategies

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more details or have other questions. I will be glad to advise you.

    Best regards,

  5. Hello Abhishek,

    It is nice to hear back from you.

    If you need more time to prepare for the GMAT you can use two strategies:

    1. Allow more time for preparation before you take the test. In this case, plan for a test date that is about a month before the application deadline of the selected schools. It may be wise to plan your application for Round 2 as the deadlines are in the beginning of January 2016, so you can take the GMAT as late as December 2015.

    2. Another strategy will be to plan two sittings of the GMAT. In this way, if you are not happy with your score you can retake after additional preparation. In this case, you should book your second test date to be no sooner than a month before the first one and no later than one month before the application deadlines of schools.

    On your second question, my advice is that you take the GMAT first and then shortlist the schools based on your actual score. School selection is very important. You should do your research. You can also hire an orientation consultant to help you or conduct the school selection. However, a GMAT score will be needed for this.

    Please, find details and expert advice about how to approach school selection in these articles:

    How to Choose Schools for MBA

    How to Select the Best Business Schools? (Q&A)

    How to Select an Admissions Consultant

    I hope this helps at this stage. I will be glad to advise you further.

    Best regards,
    Iliana Bobova
    Head of Admissions Consulting

  6. Hello Abhishek,

    Chances for Round One are better, but only in case you have a really good score and application. It may be a bit tricky for you because of the short time. However, this is your choice.

    Indeed, if you preselect schools and enter them as score recipients, you can save from additional score reports. You can do that if you are confident that you will achieve a good score. Please, be advised that on the actual test most test takers score lower than on practice tests. The difference may be more than 50 points. Check out:

    Why my real GMAT score is lower than my practice exam score?

    This is why I recommend that you take the test first and then decide whether to use the score or to retake.

    Best regards,

  7. Hello Abhidhek,

    1. Additional score reports cost 28 USD each. You can find more details at

    School application fees are separate and are paid directly to business schools. These fees vary per school and the range is between 50 and 250 USD.

    2. I would advise you to take a mock GMAT test or visit a GMAT test prep centre for a diagnostic test. Then you will have an orientation about your level and the time you will need in order to achieve a high score. On average, successful GMAT test takers invest about 100 hours in preparation and practice before they take the test.

    Best regards,

  8. Great details..If you want to get into a top business school, a good score on the Graduate Management Admission Test can go a long way. It is not the only factor in the admissions process, but a high score will only make your application package stronger.

  9. Hi, i am taking the gmat exam in mid September or early october of 2015 for the 2016 fall intake. Can u please tell me if i will be too late for the 2016 fall or i can still get into good mba universities? My first preference would be canada and then the U.S. i wanted to know if i should take my gmat even earlier or the above mentioned time is good? Thank you

    1. Hi Shraddha desai,

      Taking the GMAT as you planned is perfectly OK in order to apply for Round 2 of US business schools. You may even be able to apply for Round 1 in some schools which have their R1 application deadlines in mid or late October.

      If you prefer to first see your actual GMAT score and only after that decide on the next steps, don’t rush for Round 1. Just plan to apply in Round 2 – deadlines are at the beginning of January.

      Taking the GMAT earlier will deprive you of the opportunity to prepare better. So, take your time and aim to achieve the best score you can. With the new GMAT policy you can retake the test 16 days after your previous test. Find details here in PrepAdviser’s blog post New GMAT Exam Features Launching 19 July

      Good luck and let me know if you have further questions.

  10. Thank you, Iliana it was very helpful. How many rounds are there for applying? And if i apply in the round 2 then will i be able to start my mba frm 2016 fall or will my mba course be delayed?

    1. Hi,

      Most top US business schools have 3 rounds and all of them are for the fall 2016 intake. This means that no matter in which round you apply, if you are admitted, you will begin your studies August/September 2016.

      Let me know if you have further questions.
      Best regards.

  11. Also i wanted to know about the deadlines of universities and business schools in canada as my first preference is canada. Also i was told that if i dont hav work experience then it is better i opt for M.S in Management will that be good for me as i hav don have any working experience.

    1. Hi Shraddha Desai,

      Thanks for the details. MBA programmes require that applicants have at least two or even three years of full-time professional work experience.There are exceptions and you may come across MBA programmes which are targeted at fresh BA graduates.

      However, if you would like to go to graduate school right after your first degree, indeed, a Master’s programme is the best option for you. Be advised that there are Master’s degree programmes which may also require some relevant work experience for admission, but the majority of Master’s programmes will be open to fresh BA graduates.

      The choice between a Master’s degree and an MBA degree programme also depends on your long term career aspirations. Please, take the time to analyse your career goals. This will help you select both the right degree, as well as the actual business schools and programmes which will best help you achieve your goal. There are plenty of programmes in management, so you really have a choice, but you will need a list of your specific selection criteria.

      My advice to you is that at this stage you should really focus on your GMAT preparation and clarifying your mid-term and long-term career goals. Both factors are essential to be able to identify the best schools for your graduate studies. Also start looking at what programmes in Canada offer – just to have more ideas about your selection criteria.

    1. Heyy thanks for the is MIM different from MBA? Is it mandatory in all the MBA universities to have work experience? Also i was told that if my GMAT score is really good even though i don’t have any work experience i could get a seat in good MBA university. Is that true?

  12. Hi Shraddha Desai,

    MIM=Master in International Management. The majority of business school require at least two or three years of full-time professional work experience so that you are eligible to apply for admission. MBA programmes that do not require work experience are an exception.

    A good GMAT score is anything above 650, but at some top business schools the average score of admitted students is close to 730.

    Best regards.

  13. I wish to apply for a scholarship/financial aid to pursue MBA program at Rome Business School, Italy in 2015/2016 academic year.

    I have gained admission


    1. Hello John,

      Congratulations on your admission to the business school of your choice!

      For financial assistance, first, please research all options provided by the business school – scholarships, grants, assistantships, student loans, etc. I think that this school offers some grants.

      Find more tips and MBA alumni video testimonials in PrepAdviser’s series of blog posts:

      The Best Way to Finance MBA Studies

      Please, do not hesitate to write back with any other questions. I will be glad to assits you.

      Best regards,

  14. Hi,

    I am planning to give my GMAT exam this mid of September 2015.
    As phase 1 deadlines are near, i wont be able to apply till Mid October. Can you please advice me as to how should i plan my activities for August 2016 MBA Course.

    1. Hi Dheeraj,

      Nice to hear that you are advancing with your preparation. To be able to advise you, I want to make sure that I understand your question correctly. Am I right that you will apply in mid October 2015 and wish to begin your studies in the fall (August) 2016?

      I look forward to hearing back from you.

      Best regards.

  15. Hi Asmi,

    Q1: For details on the pros and cons of European vs American MBAs, please check out the Debate of the Month: American vs European MBAs.

    Career prospects depend on your desired career path. Please, specify your short- and long-term career aspirations/goals. Which European countries are you targeting? Please, check in advance visa and work permit regulations. Also, check out this article MBA Career Services Make the Difference.

    Q2: This article outlines the approach: How to Get a Scholarship for an MBA Programme

    Q3: This depends on the quality of the work experience, the applicant’s career goals and the arguments to attend the selected business school. The GMAT score shows the level of analytical skills, but does not speak about the applicant’s motivation to get an MBA. The ‘irratic’ background should be addressed in the application package – essay and letters of reference.

    Q4: US business schools use the Rounds system in their application process. There are two or three application deadlines. The first one – Round 1 is usually in September – October and is targeted at the most committed applicants who by that time should have already taken the GMAT (and TOEFL if required) and submit their full application package. The benefit of R1 is that the competition is less fierce. However, applicants have less time to prepare their application. Round 2 is the one which yields most of the applications and it is the most competitive. Round 3 is usually for late applicants. Scholarships are usually distributed in R1 and R2.

    Some European business schools have several application deadlines as well.

    Q5: When taking the GMAT you can select up to five business schools to receive an official score report immediately after your test is scored. This service is included in the test fee. Score recipients are selected before you know you preliminary GMAT score. So, if at the end of the test you are not happy with your score, you can cancel score reporting.

    If you do not select score recipients, but you are happy with your test score, you can order official score reports for a fee.

    Find details in the following PrepAdviser articles:

    New GMAT Score Reporting Policy (June 2014)

    New GMAT Exam Features from 19 July 2015

    Also, check out the official GMAT website

    I hope this helps.

    Best regards!

  16. Hello Akshat,

    Nice to meet you here on PrepAdviser. I would like to suggest that we discuss your application timeline after you take the GMAT and know your actual score. The score affects the shortlist of business schools and the application timeline as well.

    Business schools have different policies on GMAT score reports. Some will not review your application before they receive the official score report and this may take up to four weeks after the test date. Others will be open to consider your GMAT based on your unofficial score while waiting for the official one to reach the admissions office.

    Finally, as the GMAT score is an important element of the application package your achievement should be addressed in essays, recommendations or the application form, I cannot advise you to prepare all these materials without knowing what your actual score is.

    I look forward to hearing from you about the GMAT score and I wish you success on the exam.

    Best regards,

  17. Hi Iliana,

    I want to take my GMAT exam in march 2016. so what will be the colleges I can apply for if I want to join in 2016 Fall. Please provide the details.


    1. Hi Chaitanya,

      Nice to meet you here on PrepAdviser.

      If you take your GMAT in March 2016 and you are happy with your score you may still have a chance to meet the deadlines at some of the European business schools.

      However, selecting a business school should take into consideration more important factors than just the application deadline, such as how well the programme fits your career aspirations, how good your profile is for admission, what is your budget, etc. So, my advice is to make the most of your GMAT preparation, take the exam and then shortlist the best schools for you either for the fall of 2016 or for spring 2017 or even fall 2017. Please, find more details in PrepAdviser’s:

      How to Choose Schools for MBA or Master’s Programmes?
      GMAT Scores That Can Get You into an MBA
      How to Select a GMAT Preparation Course

      Let me know if you any further advice. I will be glad to assist you.

      Best regards and good luck with your GMAT prep! Keep in touch.
      Iliana Bobova
      Head of Admissions Consulting

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