2020-2021 MBA Application Timeline: How to Prepare

2020-2021 MBA Application Timeline: How to Prepare

Harvard Business School (US) and INSEAD (France) are among the few schools that have already released the deadlines for their 2020 MBA intake. Here is how you can start preparing if you already have an idea where you would like to apply.

Your motivation and goals

Certainly, your MBA selection should start with a period of self-reflection. Before you can even consider applying to any business school, you need to have a plan or at least an idea of your personal and professional motivation for undertaking this journey. If this seems like a vague topic to start with, admissions experts suggest that writing down some thoughts and aspirations can be a great preparation tool at the beginning. Tyler Cormney, Co-founder of MBA Prep School, advises:

Not only will a journal help you practice writing about your experiences and aspirations for your application essays, but it will also prove useful as a reference during the application process. Take this time to do career research to solidify your short- and long-term career goals and establish how an MBA will help you achieve them.

Knowing yourself and your career objectives is important because this will be one of the main aspects that business school admissions committees will look for and use in their final decision. Here are a few questions that you can use to guide you if you are still trying to make up your mind about the decision.

Check out: The Next Big Thing in Business School Selection

Questions to ask yourself

  • Is this the right time in my career to pursue an MBA degree?
  • How is business school going to contribute to my personal and professional development?
  • What else do I want to achieve in my professional life?
  • What skills and knowledge do I want to acquire?
  • Do I want to explore industries other than the one I am working in now?
  • Do I want to move my career and develop my expertise to another region?
  • Am I prepared for the changes and challenges that come along with an MBA program such as relocation, full-time studies, financial investment, etc.?


Your dream schools

If you are clear on your motivation for enrolling in an MBA and know the answers to most of these questions, you can move on to browsing through the business schools on your list. Firstly, make sure you are applying to just the right number of universities. The number can differ for each applicant, of course, but essentially this means narrowing down your options to those that truly resonate with your ideals. As Lawrence Linker, Co-founder and CEO of MBA Link, tells Forbes, there is a balance that prospective students should seek:

While it’s true that you don’t want to apply to a school you don’t see yourself being a part of, limiting your application to just one or two schools drastically reduces your chances of gaining admission to a great program. Perhaps surprisingly, applying to lots of schools also decreases your chances.

Check out: How to Overcome These Common MBA Prep Challenges

Secondly, it’s important for MBA candidates to get to know the institutions well before submitting their applications. As easy as it seems, browsing information online and learning about the values, focus, and program offerings of each school will help make your case and make a good impression. This knowledge, or the lack of it, will definitely show in your application essays and admissions interviews. At the very least, you cannot be sure if this is the right MBA program for you without knowing what makes it unique.


It is advisable that professionals go the extra mile by attending information sessions and MBA selection events, contacting school alumni and professors, and opting for campus visits. You never know what step of the process might give you a nudge in your application.

Your admission tests

Although the 2020-2021 MBA application timeline is yet to be released by some schools, candidates need to take care of their test scores now. Most programs list a strong GMAT or GRE score and proficiency in English among their requirements for admission. So why is it so important to think about this step as far in advance as possible? Even if you are a native English speaker, preparation for aptitude tests is usually rigorous and time-consuming. Your final score may actually turn out to be a decisive factor not only for your admission but for scholarship allocation as well.

Check out: Opportunities after GMAT and beyond Business School

While test takers are encouraged to retake the exam if they are not happy with their performance, this can prove difficult when you find yourself pressed by deadlines. As Mr Cormney from MBA Prep School notes:

Since a majority of MBA programs accept GMAT scores within a 5-year window, completing your exam as early as possible will give you one less thing to worry about as you move forward with your application.

Furthermore, non-native English speakers might need to secure a test certificate proving that they are fluent in the language. Exams such as TOEFL and IELTS are specifically designed to assess prospective students’ ability to work and communicate in an international academic environment.

Top business schools such as Stanford Graduate School of Business (US), London Business School (UK), and CEIBS (China) will soon announce their MBA application timeline and deadlines. Follow PrepAdviser’s blog updates and be among the first to find out the new dates for the 2020-2021 class intake.


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