Columbia Business School Moves From Rolling MBA Admissions To Rounds For Its Fall Cohort

Columbia Business School has moved away from rolling admissions for entry to its fall MBA cohort. Its January cohort will continue to be filled on a rolling basis

Columbia Business School’s MBA admissions process has long been unlike most of its peers, in two distinct ways. First, it has two major intakes, in August and January. And second, CBS has until recently used rolling admissions to fill both sections of its MBA class.

Columbia will continue to be a B-school with two intakes, but in a major change that will affect applicants to future fall classes beginning with the MBA Class of 2026, the school will now have three rounds of set deadlines for fall entry, according to a recent change to its admissions page. About 70% of each Columbia MBA class is seated in the fall.

The Round 1 deadline for fall entry shares a date with the final deadline for application to the January cohort, known as the J-Term: September 13. Rounds 2 and 3 for entry to the fall cohort will be January 5 and April 3, respectively.


Clare Norton, who joined Columbia Business School this year as senior associate dean of enrollment management, told Admissions Straight Talk podcast hit Linda Abraham that CBS was moving to admissions rounds to better align themselves with peer schools

Columbia’s unique intake system means students begin on two different paths, each made up of four terms, then merge in the fall of the second year to complete electives as a single class. The paths “are identical in terms of competitiveness of admissions, academic rigor, and student resources,” the school declares, but only students who enter in August are able to complete a summer internship. Instead of interning at a top bank or consulting firm, Columbia J-Term students complete their second-term course work over the summer.

Columbia’s continued use of a rolling admissions process for J-Term applications means “applications are reviewed — and decisions rendered — as they are received,” the school says on its website. That means, as with Columbia’s peer schools, it is to applicants’ advantage “to submit your application as early as possible.” Applicants to the fall cohort will have their applications reviewed after each deadline, and decisions will be released at one time.

The move to a round system also means Columbia is doing away with its Early Decision program. According to Norton, Round 1 acceptees will still have a $6,000 non-refundable deposit, but it will not be due until February 7. Round 2 will have a non-refundable $1,000 deposit and be due on April 17. Rounds 1 and 2 matriculants will be required to submit an additional $1,000 deposit on May 22; Round 3 acceptees will submit one non-refundable deposit of $3,000 on May 22.

(See below for the school’s newly announced timetable. Click here for other B-schools’ 2023-2024 application deadlines.)


The change to a round system for August-entry applications was designed to bring Columbia more in line with peer schools, which use application rounds, according to Clare Norton, who joined Columbia Business School this year as senior associate dean of enrollment management.

Norton told Admissions Straight Talk podcast host Linda Abraham in an episode that will stream June 20 that CBS was moving to admissions rounds to reduce possible stress on applicants, who may find it difficult for CBS to be an outlier as they apply to multiple schools. She said that CBS has not yet decided to have a hard deadline for fellowship/scholarship applications associated with their J-Term deadline, as was the case in the past; but she indicated that it is advantageous for those seeking scholarship consideration to apply by the Round 2 deadline.

Abraham tells Poets&Quants that CBS’s moves are an attempt to attract more applicants earlier in the cycle. “Perhaps CBS was not seeing the commitment to CBS from their ED applicants that they had hoped for,” she says. “Perhaps the numbers participating in that program had dwindled over time, especially since over the last 10 years the Round 1 deadline has moved earlier and earlier. Maybe they felt they were losing really good applicants who were applying to competitor schools round one.”

Round Application Deadline Interview Decisions Released Final Decisions Released
Round 1 September 13, 2023 Mid-October Mid-December
Round 2 January 5, 2024 Early-to-mid February Late March
Round 3 April 3, 2024 Mid-to-late April Early May


Abraham, founder of Accepted admissions consultancy, says Columbia’s big admissions pivot should be advantageous to both applicants and the B-school.

“My guess is they wanted to have more people sending in their applications earlier — much earlier, I might add — than previously, so they set up rounds,” Abraham tells Poets&Quants. “Last year their Early Decision deadline was September 28 and they didn’t really start considering regular decision applications until after that date. I recall that in earlier years, the ED deadline was in October. A September 13 Round 1 deadline should get them more early applications.

“Also, this move allows Columbia to review all applications and create a diverse class based on the whole pool for a given round. With rolling admissions, CBS was evaluating applications as they came in. It also tried to get answers out to applicants within a specific time frame, which I think was four to six weeks. That pressure probably put administrative strain on the admissions committee while limiting its ability to make decisions based on a broader evaluation of the applicant pool.”


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