Stanford GSB Sets MBA Application Deadlines For 2020-2021

The Stanford GSB campus

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the most selective business school in the world, has set a round one Sept. 15th deadline for MBA applicants who want a shot at getting into the Class of 2023. The R2 cutoff is Jan. 6th, while the R3 and final deadline for the class is April 6, 2021.

Candidates who apply by the R1 deadline can expect to hear back on either a ding or an interview between the middle of October to late November with a final decision by Dec. 10. Unlike Harvard and Wharton, Stanford does not give a specific date for interview invites and the first round of rejections. R2 applicants will get interview invites between Early-February and Mid-March, with final decisions on April 1st. And R3 candidates will get interview invitations between Mid-April and Early-May, with decisions on May 20th.

2020–21 Deadlines Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Submit your application by1 15 Sep 2020 06 Jan 2021 06 Apr 2021
Stanford Final Decisions 10 Dec 2020 01 Apr 2021 20 May 2021
  1. 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, including your letters of reference and application fee payment. Stanford cannot guarantee that it will review information sent to the MBA Admissions Office after the deadline of the round in which you apply.

Stanford has two essay questions, with a requirement that both essays combined should not exceed 1,150 words. the school recommends 750 words for its iconic first essay and up to 400 for the second essay prompt.

Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.

Year in and year out, no prestige MBA program is as selective as Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. It boasts the lowest acceptance rate of 6.9% and the highest number of applicants per classroom seat at 17.6. No other business school comes even close to those metrics. Another way to look at it is that 93% of everyone who applies gets turned down for admission. And when Stanford offers admissions to a candidate, 83% take the school up on its offer. That yield rate is second only to Harvard Business School’s 89%.

Stanford’s average class GMAT score of 734 is higher than any other prestigious MBA program in the world. The class GRE scores are equally impressive: the averages are 165 for both the verbal and quant sections of the test, while the average analytical writing score was 4.9. Some 19% of the enrolled students submitted a GRE score at Stanford: Besides the high standardized test scores, undergraduate grade point averages are up there, too.  For the latest class, they average 3.7. Of the 417 students in the latest class, only three entered without any full-time work experience. Otherwise, incoming students averaged 55 months of full-time work experience.


The admissions process is holistic. The essay questions are an important factor in determining fit for GSB; however, letters of recommendation, work experience, and undergraduate extracurricular activities also matter as well. Know your reasons for applying to business school and write your application in a way that conveys why GSB is the best place to achieve those goals and how you will positively contribute towards the success of not only your peers but the GSB community-at-large as well. — Phillipe Diego Rodriguez, Class of 2020

Just be authentic in your application and in your interview. Share as much of your real self as you’re comfortable sharing, and bring that authenticity to how you approach every part of the process. Write and speak from the heart and everything else will follow. — Nathan Segal, Class of 2020

The only secrets to the “what matters most to me and why” essay is honesty and passion. — Ilana Walder-Biesanz, Class of 2020

I know it sounds cliché, but just be yourself. There is no magic formula for getting into the GSB, but the culture here very much values authenticity and vulnerability, so don’t be afraid to tell your full story –where you are coming from and the hopes and dreams you have for the future. — Angela Sinisterra-Woods, Class of 2020

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

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

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


It has to be “What matters most and why?” I spent a lot of time thinking through the key decisions I had made in life, and thinking through the ‘why’ behind the decisions. It was one of the first times I reflected so deeply and expressing it in words was very challenging. Moreover, there is no right or wrong answer for this prompt, it’s just your answer. — Alokik Bhasin, Class of 2021

It was the essay’s question, “What matters the most to you and why?” is by far the most challenging question I have ever had to answer. In the process of writing the essay, I spoke with friends from different stages of my life and I connected with previous teachers and classmates. In addition, I went through my journals all the way back to my childhood. The process of introspecting in order to write the essay was exasperating but illuminating. I remember thinking to myself that even if I don’t get into Stanford, I am grateful for the experience of reflection. — Nadine ElAshkar, Class of 2021

The most challenging question by far was the essay question: “What matters most to you and why?”. That’s because answering this question requires deep self-reflection which takes time. For me, it inspired a process of truly questioning my life choices. Indeed, I believe that this is one of the most important questions that anyone should be aware of at any given point in time because it is often neglected. I still come back to this question on a regular basis since it is important to me that I am constantly aware of what actually matters to me and why and how this influences my actions. — Marie-Cristine Kaptan, Class of 2021

“Why do you want to go to business school?” If you’re going to have a good answer to any question, this is probably the one you should master. So why was this so difficult? It’s no secret that the value of business school has evolved over the last few decades. The MBA was once a necessary credential for people who aspired to certain levels of general management. As we all know, however, the world is changing. College students are starting billion-dollar companies in their dorm rooms; an MBA is not required to have a great idea. I knew in my gut that I wanted to go – deeply wanted to go – but I had trouble articulating exactly why. I had a great career path ahead of me. I had prospects and opportunities that were not limited by my existing degrees. Not to mention, there is always the looming financial cost of a business school education. I’m still not entirely sure how to adequately articulate my “why.” What I do know is that perspective is probably the most important thing to have in business (and in life), and I felt that I had one perspective. I had the perspective of the investor. It’s a good perspective – I think – a relatively broad perspective. But it is a singular perspective and one that was reinforced for me every day that I stayed on the “path” that I had started. I wanted to go to business school to gain new perspectives, to hear how my classmate who was in the Marines thinks about the same problem, or my classmates from consulting, or big tech, or human resources, or bootstrapped startups view it. It’s the biggest business school cliché out there, but there is so much intangible value to this education and to the classmates who are making that education possible by taking the same leap that I did. — Olivia Sayvetz, Class of 2021



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