Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

2020-2021 MBA Application Deadlines

This coming MBA admissions cycle is expected to be one of the biggest ever and one of the most competitive. Applications to business schools generally go up when the economy goes down so that’s one reason. But the deep recession caused by the pandemic along with pent up demand from young professionals who found plenty of opportunity in the past from a growing economy will likely cause a big spike for 2020-2021.

Admission consultants are already reporting that they are seeing big increases in both interest and bookings by candidates who intend to apply in the round one application deadlines in September at the most elite business schools. The increase comes at a time when only a handful of prominent schools–Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Columbia Business School–have even announced their new application deadlines and have yet to open their new application forms. Many business schools that extended their current admission rounds due to the pandemic also have seen what they describe as a “surge” in late applicants.

In fact, some of the flexibility given applicants during the height of the pandemic will be extended into the new year. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business added a fourth round with a June 1 deadline after receiving what it called a “strong response” to this year’s extension of round 3. Ross also decided to accept LSAT and MCAT score reports in lieu of the GMAT or GRE for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, admission officials will also accept other test scores, including the Executive Assessment, and will even consider waiving standardized tests if an applicants brings “strong alternate indicators of academic, personal or professional accomplishment” to the game. Candidates are being invited to submit a prior SAT or ACT score as part of their waiver request. Kellogg will accept GMAT and GRE scores after a candidate submits an application.


The case for the most competitive admissions year ever is due to a confluence of unusual events. Besides the historical trend on how recessions benefit business schools, there’s the fact that after five years of an overall decline in apps and three years for the top schools, there is pent-up demand for graduate business education. The depth of the recession, as measured by the more than 40 million people who are now unemployed in the U.S., is another factor. Many young professionals are being laid off at such companies as Airbnb, Uber, and Google as they sharply curtail operations or suspend them altogether.

“Some applicants I have spoken to see the MBA as a safe harbor and imagine that graduating business school three years from now will mean entering a much stronger job market than the one they will be leaving in the fall of 2021,” says Tyler Cormney, a co-founder of MBA Prep School,

The pandemic will also push into the new admissions season an unusually larger number of admitted students who decided to defer their enrollment due to travel restrictions, difficulty in gaining student visas, and the likelihood that at least some of their coursework will be online when campuses open in the fall. And the prospect of a Trump defeat will likely lead to increased interest in U.S. schools from international applicants who have been turned off by all of the anti-immigration rhetoric and uncertainly of work visas.


“About two weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, when the paralysis and shock started to fade,  the volumes of inquiries for round one MBA deadlines sharply increased,” says Esther Magna, a principal at Stacy Blackman Consulting, one of the largest MBA Admissions consulting firms. “By every measure since then– including numbers of inquiries, visitors on our website, clients who have signed-on for services–we see that interest in the MBA has increased for us by at least 50% relative to last year at this time. There are weeks when I think demand has doubled.”

The increase, she adds, will lead to one of the most competitive admissions seasons ever. “Our prediction is that MBA demand will increase significantly for the top MBA programs,” says Magna. “More than that, the caliber of the applicant pool with respect to diversity, leadership, industry, and career visions will skyrocket in the application season that is upon us.  Both quality and quantity are about to be re-defined.”

So how should an MBA applicant play the 2020-2021 market? Apply early. Some candidates will have been distracted by the interruptions in their lives from the pandemic. Getting your application in early could be more essential this year than ever.


No matter what you do, there’s some helpful general advice: If you can, apply in the first round when none of the seats in the class are filled. At most schools, early applicants have an advantage over those that complete their applications in later rounds. Typically, the second application round is the largest, and many schools, including Wharton, advise candidates that round three is the most competitive mostly because the vast majority of the class seats are already filled. There are some other reasons why you want to get your app in early:

  • The ability to receive a scholarship award from the school’s Financial Aid Office prior to the date by which you must respond to your offer of admission.
  • Ample time to complete recommended quantitative and/or language coursework prior to arrival on campus.
  • Access to on-campus housing lottery systems at some schools.
  • Sufficient time to complete the visa application process for international candidates.
  • Attendance at a school’s Admit Weekends. Sometimes, round three candidates lose out on this opportunity.

All that said, the best time to apply is when you believe you’ve done the best job possible with your application. If you have to rush and cut corners to make round one, don’t. Hold off until another round. At all the highly selective business schools, admissions officials are looking for reasons to cut you from the pool. After all, the odds are substantially against you and as many as 80% of the candidates in any school’s applicant pool are usually fully qualified to attend. So you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward when you do apply.

We’ll update this list continuously as more schools provide info on their new deadlines. If a school has released its essays for the 2020-202` admissions season, you can access them by clicking on the “Yes” in the table below.

Earliest 2020-2021 MBA Application Deadlines

SchoolDeadlineInterview NotificationDecisionEssay Release
HEC ParisAug. 14, 2020 (R7-Jan. 2021 Intake)Early Sept.Sept. 18, 2020Yes
Virginia (Darden)Sept. 2, 2020 (Early Action)Open InterviewNAYes
HarvardSept. 8, 2020 (R1)Oct. 1, 2020*Dec. 10, 2020Yes
INSEADSept. 11, 2020 (R1- Sept. Intake)Oct. 16, 2020Nov. 20, 2020Yes
Michigan (Ross)Sept. 14, 2020 (R1)NADec. 2, 2020Yes
HEC ParisSept. 14, 2020 (R8-Jan. 2021 Intake)Early Oct..Oct. 16, 2020Yes
Stanford GSBSept. 15, 2020 (R1)Mid-Oct. to Late-Nov.Dec. 10, 2020Yes
WhartonSept. 15, 2020 (R1)Oct. 28, 2020Dec. 16, 2020Yes
NYU Stern (Tech & Fashion MBAs)Sept. 15, 2020 (R1)RollingDec. 1, 2020 (Initial Notification)Yes
Yale SOMSept. 15, 2020 (R1)RollingDec. 8, 2020Yes
Northwestern (Kellogg)Sept. 16, 2020 (R1)RollingDec. 9, 2020Yes
Duke (Fuqua)Sept. 23, 2020 (Early Action)Oct. 8, 2020Oct. 27, 2020Yes
Chicago (Booth)Sept. 24, 2020 (R1)RollingDec. 3, 2020Yes
Dartmouth (Tuck)Sept. 28, 2020 (R1)Mid-Aug. to Early Dec.Dec. 10, 2020Yes
ColumbiaOct. 2, 2020 (Early Decision)RollingRollingYes
Virginia (Darden)Oct. 5, 2020 (R1)By InvitationNAYes
HEC ParisOct. 14, 2020 (R9-Jan. 2021 Intake)Early Nov.Nov. 20, 2020Yes
NYU (Stern)Oct. 15, 2020 (R1)RollingJan. 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
Duke (Fuqua)Oct. 20, 2020 (R1)Nov. 10, 2020Dec. 18, 2020Yes
NYU (Stern)Nov. 15, 2020 (R2)RollingFeb. 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
NYU Stern (Tech & Fashion MBAs)Nov. 15, 2020 (R2)RollingFeb. 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
HEC ParisNov. 16, 2020 (R10-Jan. 2021 Intake)Early Dec.Dec. 18, 2020Yes
ColumbiaApril 9, 2021 (Regular Decision)RollingRollingYes

An asterisk indicates an estimate based on last year’s dates because the school has not formally announced a date for when it will notify applicants of interview invites.

Round Two 2020-2021 MBA Application Deadlines

SchoolDeadlineInterview NotificationDecisionEssay Release
Michigan (Ross)Jan. 4, 2021 (R2)NAMarch 7, 2021Yes
Virginia (Darden)Jan. 4, 2021 (R2)By InvitationNAYes
Dartmouth (Tuck)Jan. 4, 2021 (R2)Early Dec. to Mid-MarchMarch 18, 2021Yes
HarvardJan. 5, 2021 (R2)Feb. 4, 2021*March 30, 2021Yes
WhartonJan. 5, 2021 (R2)Feb. 11, 2021March 25, 2021Yes
Stanford GSBJan. 6, 2021 (R2)Early-February to Mid-MarchApril 1, 2021Yes
Northwestern (Kellogg)Jan. 6, 2021 (R2)RollingMarch 24, 2021Yes
Yale SOMJan. 7, 2021 (R2)RollingMarch 26, 2021Yes
Duke (Fuqua)Jan. 7, 2021 (R2)Feb. 2, 2021March 20, 2021Yes
Chicago (Booth)Jan. 12, 2021 (R2)RollingMarch 18, 2021Yes
UC-Berkeley (Haas)Jan. 14, 2021 (R2)RollingMarch 25, 2021Yes
NYU (Stern)Jan. 15, 2021 (R3)RollingApril 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
NYU Stern (Tech & Fashion MBAs)Jan. 15, 2020 (R3)RollingApril 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
NYU Stern (Tech & Fashion MBA)Feb. 15, 2020 (R4)RollingApril 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
ColumbiaApril 9, 2021 (Regular Decision)RollingRollingYes
INSEADMay 20, 2021 (R2- Sept. Intake)June 26, 2021July 24, 2021Yes

An asterisk indicates an estimate based on last year’s dates because the school has not formally announced a date for when it will notify applicants of interview invites.

R3 & Later 2020-2021 MBA Application Deadlines

SchoolDeadlineInterview NotificationDecisionEssay Release
NYU (Stern)March 15, 2021 (R4)RollingJune 1, 2021 (Initial Notification)Yes
Duke (Fuqua)March 25, 2021 (R3)April 8, 2021April 30, 2021Yes
Dartmouth (Tuck)March 29, 2021 (R2)Mid-March to Late AprilMay 6, 2021Yes
Michigan (Ross)March 29, 2021 (R3)NAMay 5, 2021Yes
WhartonMarch 31, 2021 (R3)April 15, 2021May 11, 2021Yes
Chicago (Booth)April 1, 2021 (R3 & Booth Scholars)RollingMay 20, 2021Yes
UC-Berkeley (Haas)April 5, 2021 (R3)RollingMay 13, 2021Yes
Stanford GSBApril 6, 2021 (R3)Mid-April to Early-MayMay 20, 2021Yes
Northwestern (Kellogg)April 7, 2021 (R3)RollingMay 12, 2021Yes
Virginia (Darden)April 7, 2021 (R3)By InvitationNAYes
ColumbiaApril 9, 2021 (Regular Decision)RollingRollingYes
Yale SOMApril 13, 2021 (R3)RollingMay 18, 2021Yes
Michigan (Ross)June 1, 2021 (R4)NAJune 25, 2021Yes
Dartmouth (Tuck)June 1, 2021 (R4)Late April to Late JuneRollingYes
INSEADJuly 1, 2021 (R3- Sept. Intake)July 31, 2021Sept. 4, 2021Yes
INSEADAug. 5, 2021 (R4- Sept. Intake)Aug. 28, 2021Sept. 25, 2021Yes

An asterisk indicates an estimate based on last year’s dates because the school has not formally announced a date for when it will notify applicants of interview invites.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.