Columbia Business School 2018-2019 MBA Deadlines

One of many photos posted to Instagram by celebrating Columbia Business School MBA students

The early decision deadline for MBA applications to Columbia Business School is Oct. 3 this year, with a final decision deadline of April 10th for candidates who want to start the program in August of 2019. That’s a day ahead of last year’s cutoff for early applications as well as the school’s final deadline.

Among peer schools CBS is unusual in three respects. For one thing, Columbia MBA students may enroll in either August or January. The two paths, each comprised of four terms, merge in the fall of the second year to complete electives as a single class. The school claims that both paths are identical in terms of competitiveness of admissions, and academic rigor, though the acceptance rate for the January intake is significantly higher. Last year, CBS admitted 232 of the 562 applicants who applied under that January option for an acceptance rate of 41.3% versus the 14% rate for admits to its full two-year program. Some 204 of the January admits enrolled for a yield rate of 87.9%.

Secondly, Columbia is among the very few schools with an early decision deadline for students who want to enroll in the school’s August-start. If you apply to CBS early decision, your application will obviously receive more favorable treatment. But you also have to sign a commitment to attend CBS and withdraw all other applications and decline other offers, if admitted. You also have to fork over a rather hefty $6,000 tuition deposit within two weeks of admission that is nonrefundable. About 30% of Columbia’s full-time MBA students enter in January for its accelerated program.

Finally, CBS is different because admissions here is not as entirely structured in separate rounds, with specific dates for interview invites and decisions. The school reviews candidates on a rolling basis, and early decision applicants are given decisions before regular decision applications. Because CBS uses this process, it is always an advantage to apply well before the deadline, just as the odds fall in your favor by applying in round one or two at rival schools.

Though CBS applicants can turn in their regular decision applications as soon as the application goes live during the summer, they will not be reviewed until CBS completes its early decision round. The final deadline for submitting an application for the August start is April 10th. If you apply for the January start, your application deadline is the same as the Oct. 3rd early decision cutoff.

Merit fellowship deadlines for candidates for the two-year MBA program are Jan. 4, with all deadlines at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Columbia’s 2018-2019 MBA Application Deadlines

CBS Deadlines Application Deadline Interview Invites Decisions
Early Decision & January Term October 3, 2018 Rolling Rolling
Merit Scholarship January 4, 2019 NA Rolling
Final Decision April 10, 2019 Rolling Rolling


During last year’s admissions cycle, 6,188 candidates vied for the 753 seats in both the January and August cohorts. The school admitted 1,019 students for an overall acceptance rate of 16.5%. CBS maintained a high yield rate, the percentage of admitted students who enroll, partly because of its early decision option and the MBA program’s prestige and NYC location.

Last year’s class entered with a 3.5 undergraduate grade point average and a 724 average GMAT, up seven points from the previous year, with a range from a low of 530 to a high of 790. Aside from being two points higher than the average for the incoming class at MIT Sloan, the Class of 2019’s GMAT also represents a 10-point improvement over the past five years.

That wasn’t the only area where the incoming class raised the bar for those following in their footsteps. The percentage of women also jumped from 38% to 41%, an all-time high that outpaces rivals like Chicago Booth and NYU Stern. U.S. minorities now account for over a third of the class, up three points over the 2016-2017 cycle. However, these gains were offset by the international student population, which dropped from 48% to 43% in a year, a number that can be explained by a 3% drop in the overall percentage of international applicants. The average work experience for an enrolled student last year was five years, though the middle-80% range was three to eight years. Some 99% of the class had a year or more of work experience, leaving just a tiny door open for direct admits from college.


“Most prospective students cast a fairly wide net of applications. Take the time to really get to know CBS and find out if the location and culture fit what you’re looking for. Come visit campus, ride the subway with current students, meet with Columbia’s Executives in Residence, and determine whether Columbia’s Manhattan location provides the business school experience that you are looking for. When it comes time for your essays and admissions interview, you will be able to speak to all the specific aspects of CBS that make it the best fit for you and your career goals.”Ryan Ripp, 2018 MBA graduate from Columbia now working for McKinsey & Co. as an associate in its New Jersey office

“Try not to get caught up thinking that the path to business school is a narrow one. Many of my friends followed a more traditional journey (Banking/Consulting/PE -> MBA), and like them, I thought I would return to business school after three-and-a-half years of consulting in Washington, DC.  Little did I know at the time that I would travel to Nepal, and ultimately found The Oda Foundation. Had I followed the crowd, my life would be drastically different (and likely far less satisfying). While my advice transcends business school, I would say that you’re far more likely to find fulfillment (and to become a more compelling business school candidate) if you challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and walk the road less traveled.” — John Christopher, Class of 2019 MBA student at Columbia

“My advice is to get connected with current students and recent alumni like yourself. This allows you to get insight into the school’s culture to determine if it resonates with you. I had the fortune of meeting an overwhelming number of students during my application process who were eager to help me due to a ‘pay-it-forward’ mentality. Most of these students had been in the same situation, had been helped, and felt it their duty to return the favor. I will undoubtedly be ‘paying-it-forward’ myself.” — Joseph Maier, Class of 2019 MBA student at Columbia



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