Columbia Business School Sets 2020-2021 Application Deadlines

Columbia Business School has set an Oct. 2 early decision application deadline for the Class of 2023 and an April 9, 2021, deadline for regular decisions. In both cases, interview invites and final decisions are rendered on a rolling basis.

As it has in the past, the early decision deadline–unusual for most business school admissions–is for candidates who have decided that Columbia is their first choice. They must sign a statement indicating that they are committed to attending the school and will withdraw all applications and decline all offers from other schools once admitted to CBS. Applicants also must submit a hefty nonrefundable $6,000 tuition deposit within two weeks of admission. Early Decision applications are reviewed, and decisions rendered, before Regular Decision applications.

For the regular decision deadline, candidates can submit their applications as soon as the application becomes available in the summer. Even though the final deadline is April 9, 2021, applicants who are seeking merit-based fellowships are advised to turn in their applications by early January.

This year, Columbia is requiring three essay questions of applicants, along with a statement of goals:

Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)

Essay #1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 Words)

Essay #2: Why do you feel that Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 Words)

Essay #3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 Words)

Columbia is unique in another respect in addition to its early decision admission policy: The school has not one but two intakes in August and January. The school begins reviewing applications for January entry once the application becomes available in June. The final application deadline is in early October.

The two cohorts, each comprised of four terms, merge in the fall of the second year to complete electives as a single class. It’s considerably easier to get into the January intake which attracts roughly 30% of the entire graduating class. For the August cohort, the acceptance rate is just 16.4%, with a yield of 66.0%. In fact, CBS gets as many applicants per class seat (8.8) at HBS for that intake. For the smaller January intake, however, the acceptance rate is a surprisingly high 52.1%, with a yield rate of 86.8%. The disparity is largely the result of far fewer applicants for the January intake that leads to the accelerated MBA. Some 234 out of 449 applicants were accepted with 203 enrolled for the January cohort. Combine both cohorts and the acceptance rate balloons to 19.1%. The average GMAT score for the larger August cohort for the full two-year MBA program at Columbia was 732, with a range of 560 to 790. Some 16% of the enrolled students submitted GRE scores for their applications. CBS does not disclose GRE scores which suggest it could be easier to get into the MBA program with a lower GRE. The class average GPA was 3.6. Of the 551 students in the August cohort, 529 had prior work experience which averaged 60 months. The average age of an August cohort student was 28 but ranges between 22 years and 51 (you read that right)..


My best advice to students is to apply early and make sure to attend a class before applying. Attending a CBS class will show how incredible the faculty are and illustrate the natural curiosity and collaboration of the CBS community. — Zachary Lopez, Class of 2020

Really do your research on why CBS. Even though our slogan is “At the Very Center of Business”, there are core academic attributes such as the Private Equity Program or Value Investing Program that differentiate CBS from other schools. In addition, there is a large number of clubs from social enterprise minded Pangea to Follies that are uniquely CBS. Lastly, the international trips I’ve been able to go on, partially funded by CBS, include Ghana, Laos and Japan. I spoke with several alumni from Kearney before applying, attended an info session on campus, and really connected with several current students to understand student life before applying.Jenny My Le, Class of 2020

Take some time to introspect and understand why you want to get your MBA and then let the admissions committee clearly know that. Talk to some current students and alumni, as well as visit the school to understand what CBS truly offers. Try to attend a class, participate in one of our Thursday night Socials, and sit in on a CBS Matters presentation to understand our school’s culture and ethos. All of this will help you understand if CBS is where you want to be and will help you submit an honest and passionate application.Rahul Goyal, Class of 2019

Every MBA program wants to know why that program makes sense for you, right now, and Columbia is no different. Recognize that there is no magic formula for getting in, but the closest thing to it is thinking critically and introspectively about what you’re looking to contribute to the community at CBS and about what kind of person you’d like to be when you emerge from the experience two years later. — Briana Saddler, Class of 2019


A question from Columbia’s application: “What is your dream job?” I think we stop dreaming in exchange for plans, outlines, etc. This question made me go back to a child-like state and declare what I hoped for myself. Putting that dream to paper was so significant to me. — Malida Tadesse, Class of 2021

The most difficult question I was asked was “Why did you leave the job in the US Senate?” It was difficult to answer this question because I didn’t want to get into any conversations that could be polarizing and the core reason I left my job was because my views no longer aligned with those of my employer. Trying to discuss a topic that is inherently political in a setting where I was advised to avoid political conversations was a challenge to navigate. —Lonnie Wishom, Class of 2021

Coming from a somewhat unorthodox background for an MBA candidate, I was asked how I’d be able to contribute to a learning team. I talked about how my experience in the film and TV industry had allowed me to develop a set of leadership skills – such as problem-solving, communication, and teamwork – that are essential to career success in any industry. — Katy Obr, Class of 2021

If you could go back to change a decision you previously made, what would it be and why?” I don’t believe in regrets.  I think you can learn from every “mistake” and use those lessons to make informed choices in the future.Courtney Johnson, Class of 2021

The application really forced me to put on paper some of the aspirations and ideas that have been brewing for quite a while. This was the most difficult part to me as I was always questioning whether someone would read my essay and think I was being unrealistic. In the end, I realized it didn’t matter what anyone might think and that I had nothing to lose by applying to my dream school. — Kristin Jantzie, Class of 2021



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