Earlier R1 Deadlines At Stanford, Wharton, MIT

Graduate School of Business Knight Management Center

Graduate School of Business Knight Management Center

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business moved up its first-round deadline for the 2015-2016 admissions season by 10 days today (May 6) to Sept. 22nd, the earliest ever. Stanford, which last year had an Oct. 1 first-round cutoff, said it would notify its early bird candidates of admission decisions on Dec. 9.

Earlier deadlines look like a real trend this year. MIT Sloan pushed its first round up by six days to Sept. 17th this year, with notification by Dec. 16th, from Sept. 23 for the 2014-2015 cycle. MIT’s second round deadline is now Jan. 14, with decisions released on April 4, while its third round cutoff is April 11, with notification by May 18th. That, in and of itself, is new. Before, MIT had been one of the few schools with only two deadlines. An MIT admissions official said the school added the third date after a number of applicants asked for it.

The school, which said its application will go live in July, also changed up its essay questions this year. The one required 500-word essay:  “Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have?” And a second 250-word question is asked of those invited to interview: “The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission.”

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School also announced that it would move up its round one deadline–but not so dramatically. Instead of Oct. 1, it would be two days earlier on Sept. 29th this year. with a decision release date of Dec. 17th. A Wharton spokesperson told Poets&Quants that it plans to repeat last year’s essay questions and expects its online application to go live in early August.


A spokesperson for Stanford GSB said the school’s deadline was moved up “to reduce pressure on candidates interviewing in the U.S. around the Thanksgiving holiday and their alumni interviewers.”

In announcing its new deadlines, Stanford also moved back its round-two cutoff by five days for Jan. 12, with a decision notification of March 30. “Since our offices are closed for two weeks at Christmas due to the university shut down, and the holiday season is busy for our applicants, the round two deadline was moved back one week so we can provide support for applicants and recommenders who need questions answered prior to submitting,” the spokesperson said.

Stanford set its final and third-round deadline for April 5, four days later than last year, with notification on May 11th.

Stanford kept the same essay questions applicants were asked to complete last year, but increased the word count slightly by 50 words to a total of 1,150 words, primarily for the second essay with the prompt, “Why Stanford?”, which now has a limit of 400 words. Stanford’s classic essay, “What matters most to you and why?,” will have a word limit of 750 words. “Admissions had decreased the word count last year and decided to increase it for those who need it,” the Stanford spokesperson said.


Wharton has yet to release its new essay set. Wharton’s round two cutoff will be Jan. 5, with decisions by March 29, while its third and final round ends March 30th, with notification by May 3rd. Wharton strongly urged would-be applicants to apply in its first two rounds, saying that there is no significant difference in the level of rigor of those rounds. “The third round is more competitive, as we will have already selected a good portion of the class,” according to the school. “However, there will be sufficient room in Round 3 for the strongest applicants.”

Derrick Bolton, Stanford’s head of MBA admissions, again advises candidates to apply as early as possible. “If you plan to apply in round one or two, we strongly encourage you to apply in round one,” he says on the school’s website. “Over the last few years, the number of applications we receive in round two has increased, making it more competitive. Do not rush your application, but submitting it earlier is better. While we admit outstanding individuals in all three rounds, there are some advantages to applying in either the first or second round.”

Stanford GSB is the most selective of all the U.S. MBA programs, last year accepting only 7.1% of its applicants. Only 521 of the 7,355 candidates who applied for admission to the school’s prestigious MBA program in the 2014-2015 admissions cycle were admitted Stanford enrolled a class of 410 of those admitted applicants who will graduate in the Class of 2017. The latest enrolled group of students had the highest average GMATs of any business school at 732 and the highest average undergraduate grade point average at 3.74.

So far, four top schools have set their application deadlines. As always, Harvard Business School set the earliest first-round deadline of Sept. 9th, same as last year. Dee Leopold, HBS’s managing director of admissions and financial aid, said the school will push its application for the Class of 2018 live in mid-June. Harvard’s essay and recommender questions will be posted on May 15th.

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