Stanford GSB 2019-2020 MBA Application Deadlines

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business today moved up its round one MBA application deadline this year to Sept. 12th, six full days earlier than last year and also moved back by five days its third and final round to April 8th. The changes give 2019-2020 MBA applicants a bigger window to apply to the school.

For R1 applicants that means getting a final admit/deny decision by Dec. 12th.

Stanford set a round two deadline of Jan. 9, with decisions due by April 2.. And for applicants who meet the school’s final and third cutoff date of April 8th, decisions will be released on May 21.

All applications are due by 2 p.m. PST, including letters of reference and the GSB’s $275 application fee. The school does not disclose a specific date for its invitation-only interviews by alumni and admissions staff. Typically, an applicant and an interviewer work together to schedule the interview once an invite goes out, generally within seven to 10 days.

Round one interviews usually occur from mid-October to late November over a four- to five-week window. Round two interviews start in early February to go until mid-March. For round 3, Stanford begins inviting candidates to interview approximately a week after the application deadline and continues issuing invitations until a week before the decision notification date for that round, from mid-April to early May.

Stanford’s 2019-2020 MBA Application Deadlines

GSB Rounds Application Deadline Interviews Decisions
Round One September 12, 2019 Mid-Oct. to Late Nov. December 12, 2019
Round Two January 9, 2020 Early Feb. to Mid-March April 2, 2020
Round Three April 8, 2020 Mid-April to Early May May 21, 2020

Stanford’s business school motto is “change lives, change organizations, and change the world.” Since Stanford believes that past actions are the best predictor of future actions, the admissions staff wants to hear about how applicants have created positive change in the organizations and communities in which they have been involved. “Whether you have helped someone on your team tackle a new task or have identified a new way to improve a process, we look for evidence of how you have influenced those around you,” explains Stanford GSB.

“You have an opportunity to describe briefly your activities, interests, and professional experience in designated sections of your application and in your resume. Your recommenders also will provide information about your contributions in their letters of recommendation. And this year, we have added an optional short answer question, so you have the opportunity to expand on what you have done and why you think it is meaningful.”

This year the school added a new optional short question to its application while retaining its iconic essay prompt, What Matters Most To You, and Why?, as well as its standard Why Stanford? essay. The school is advising applicants to make sure both essays combined do not exceed 1,150 words. Stanford officially recommends up to 750 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B, noting that if often finds effective essays written in far fewer words.

The new optional prompt: Think about times you created a positive impact, whether in professional, extra-curricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (Up to 1500 characters, approximately 250 words each)

The school says it added this question to give applicants more choices in how they would like to tell their story. “We have received feedback that applicants want to share more about their contributions, and we also believe that this information is helpful in assessing leadership potential,” Stanford says. “While the two required essays, (What matters most to you, and why? and Why Stanford?), shed light on who they are and how Stanford will help them achieve their aspirations, we also are interested in learning about the things they have done, which are most meaningful to them.”

Stanford kept the word limit for the two required essays the same (up to 1,150 words).


By the numbers, Stanford GSB received the fewest applications – 7,797 – last year since the Class of 2016. That total was a drop from a record 8,173 applicants in the previous year. That said, the school remains the most selective full-time MBA program in the world. It accepted just 6.1% of all applicants, building a class of 419 incoming students. To put it another way, there were 18.6 applicants for every available seat in the Class of 2020. That’s one reason why nearly nine of every ten accepted applicants invariably joined the incoming class. The training, network, and prestige make the investment a sure thing (see Meet Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class of 2020).

That doesn’t mean it is nearly impossible for applicants to land a coveted spot in Palo Alto. Last fall, the big news was that the incoming class’ average GMAT score slid by five points to 732 – the same score as peer schools at Northwestern Kellogg, Columbia Business School, and the Wharton School. That doesn’t mean the quality of the program has been diluted. Instead, it was likely a conscious decision by Moss to open the program to candidates whose credentials sometimes eclipsed their GMAT scores.

“A five-point drop at a school that has consistently had the highest average GMAT don’t happen by accident,” says Linda Abraham, founder and CEO of, in a 2018 interview with P&Q. “I think it reflects Kirsten Moss’ focus on leadership and admitting people who will make a difference. She has made it clear that she is genuinely pained when she hears that potentially great applicants to Stanford did not apply because of ‘stats,’ specifically Stanford’s low acceptance rate and GMAT average for entering students.

Overall, 41% of the 2020 Class consists of women, par for the course for a program where the percentage has bobbled between 40%-42% over the past five years. The percentage of international students was nearly equal at 42%, a number commiserate with the school’s performance in the last five years. The same could be said for the class’ percentage of underrepresented minorities, which topped out at 27% this year.

The Class of 2020 remained eerily consistent with previous classes when it comes to academic backgrounds as well. This year, 48% of the class hails from the Humanities and Social Sciences, the same percentage as the Classes of 2018 and 2017. Engineering, Math, and Natural Sciences majors account for 34% of the class, a consistent downward slide from its 39% peak four years ago. At the same time, business majors take up 18% of the seats, a five-point upswing that matches the quant downturn.

In terms of professional backgrounds, the top four remained the same with 2020 Class. Not surprisingly, students who worked in investment management, private equity, and venture capital take up the largest share of the class at 21%. They are followed by consulting (19%), technology (15%), and government and education (10%).


“My advice would be to connect with a handful of current students or alumni to truly understand what makes the program so different. Stanford is a special place and the admissions office wants to see that applicants understand that. Make it clear that you are not only willing to subscribe to the culture, but that you are interested in contributing to it in meaningful ways. When asked “Why Stanford?”, get past the surface level (e.g., small class size) and get to the bottom of the GSB’s ethos (e.g., Talk, “Touchy Feely”, Lead Labs, Startup Garage, GSB Show, etc.). Convince them that there’s no place you’d rather be!” — Geoffrey Calder, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“Be genuine. Your “story” will be easy to tell if it’s true.” — John Ettinger, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“Be deeply reflective when answering the essay question “What matters most to you, and why.” People get surprisingly personal and emotional. Also, don’t procrastinate (and especially don’t procrastinate until Round 3)!” — Valerie Shen, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“Be genuine. The GSB’s “What matters most to you and why?” essay will cause you to do some serious soul searching – it certainly did for me. But make sure to talk about what you actually care about rather than what you think the admissions committee wants to hear.” — Jennifer Villa, class of 2019 Stanford MBA


“For me, Stanford’s biggest selling point was its flexible curriculum. First, there is flexibility within the business school curriculum (i.e., most “compulsory” courses are offered at the Base, Accelerated, and Advanced level). Second, there is flexibility to take classes “across the street” (i.e., can easily take electives at the Law School, Medical School, Engineering School, etc.). As someone who had already completed a 4-year undergraduate business degree, this meant I was able to avoid nearly all overlap and push myself intellectually throughout the program. But there were other draws: varied teaching method, small class size, proximity to Silicon Valley, great weather, collaborative culture, and so on.” — Geoffrey Calder, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“I had spent my whole life in the Northeast Corridor and thought it was about time to shake things up and give the West Coast a try. People do seem to think differently out here, which I think offers useful perspective for a stodgy old East Coaster like me. The perfect weather doesn’t hurt either.” — John Ettinger, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“There are so many reasons I love the GSB. As a former consultant, I’ll stick with three. First, are the people – I know this is cliché, but my classmates and professors are even more amazing than expected. Second is the interdisciplinary nature of Stanford, which I deeply value because my career goals require extensive interdisciplinary cooperation. I am pursuing a joint degree in Environment & Resources and get to take classes from various departments across the university. Finally, I love the Bay Area – I hope to spend the rest of my life here, so I am excited that my business school network will be centered here. The Bay Area is full of opportunities in every sense, as well as beautiful nature, wonderful weather, and delicious food.” — John Ettinger, Class of 2019 Stanford MBA

“Given that I want to work in the technology sector, there was no better place to choose than a school at the heart of Silicon Valley. Beyond this, I felt Stanford’s program uniquely encouraged personal development and introspection.” — Jennifer Villa, class of 2019 Stanford MBA


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.