Harvard Business School Eliminates Round 3 MBA Application Period

Harvard Business SchoolThis week Harvard Business School announced that, unlike most other business schools, it would not have a Round 3 application deadline this year. The world’s most desirable MBA program just announced that they dropped an admissions deadline… must be a huge deal, right? “Not really,” is our answer. Read on…

Here are the main takeaways:

1) In the past, the former Director of Admissions had said that they always see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again. We think the move to eliminate Round 3 indicates that HBS has so many great applicants in Rounds 1 and 2, it’s not necessary to review applicants in Round 3 in order to fill their class with outstanding individuals. Instead of admitting 90% of the class in Rounds 1 and 2, they’ll now admit 100%.

2) The announcement says that Harvard has decided to focus their spring Round on 2+2 applications. This seems to signal an elevated level of importance for the program for college seniors seeking deferred admission. Clearly, the program is going well enough that they were ready to really focus on it in the spring admissions round this year.

The impact on you:

As an MBA applicant, this announcement means that if you want to apply to Harvard Business School, you really need to plan ahead. In the past, if circumstances had prevented you from applying in Round 1 or Round 2, you still had a chance to submit your application in Round 3. That chance is no longer available to you at HBS. You either need to decide earlier if you are going to apply (the Round 2 deadline is January 4 for the Class of 2021) or you’re going to have to wait and apply the following fall.

However, a big reason we say this announcement isn’t that big of a deal is that we rarely ever encourage business school applicants to pursue Round 3. We didn’t always think it was radioactive — indeed, it has helped applicants in certain situations, such as coming back from a military deployment or losing a job — but most applicants apply in one of the first two rounds, anyway. And, that’s almost always what they should do.

Also, note that applicants to HBS will now most likely know their fate when Round 2 decisions are released. (The Round 2 decision date was March 21 this past season.) The announcement mentions getting admitted students their decisions earlier, giving them additional time to do everything they need to do before classes start. This will allow a lot of small logistical things to fall into place a little more neatly, for both the school and for admitted applicants.

Another thing we’re wondering with this announcement from Harvard: we’re curious to see what other business schools do. Will more of them eliminate their final round? Will they be happy to keep Round 3 and probably see more applications from folks who were dinged by HBS in Round 2? Only time will tell. In the meantime, start working on your applications now, if you haven’t already. If you have questions, contact us.


Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or sign up for a free consultation. As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

3 Reasons to Apply in Round 3

InterviewRound 1 and 2 deadlines have come and gone, but you had it in your head that you were applying to business school this year. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant should consider applying in Round 3.

1. Many schools have strong Round 3 acceptance rates.

Think you have no chance getting in if you apply Round 3? Think again!  Admissions officers at Harvard (HBS), Stanford GSB, Wharton and across the top-tier MBA programs have openly stated that they would simply eliminate Round 3 if they did not consistently admit candidates from the final round. Harvard Business School’s former Director of Admissions, Dee Leopold, offers this: “We always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always – ALWAYS – see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again.”  

Schools with relatively higher acceptance rates of Round 3 applicants include Cornell Johnson, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Carnegie Mellon Tepper, Emory Goizueta and Georgetown McDonough, according to data provided by MBA Data Guru. If you apply to schools outside of the top 15 MBA programs you are more likely to be accepted in Round 3. 

2. There were extenuating circumstances which prevented you from applying in an earlier round.

Some applicants have extenuating circumstances that prevented them from applying in an earlier round. Admissions Officers will certainly keep this in mind while reviewing your Round 3 application, so feel free to include legitimate circumstances in your optional essay. This might include an overseas military deployment, atypical professional obligations such as working on a political campaign, or other circumstances where it is easy for the admissions officer to see that submitting an earlier application would have been nearly impossible. Do not feel an obligation to list an excuse for applying in Round 3, but if you have extenuating circumstances you may include them. Our Veritas Prep consultants can help you determine whether to mention a possible extenuating circumstance in your application or leave it off.

3. You’re a stellar applicant with a stellar application.

Round 3 partly gets a bad reputation from those applicants who throw together their applications at the last minute (rather than having to wait eight months before applying in next year’s admissions cycle) and end up getting rejected. “See,” they say, “I knew I wouldn’t get in. Round 3 is impossible.” But Round 3 wasn’t the problem… their applications were what held them back.

An impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or postpone to Round 1 in the fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee  has you covered every step of the way!


Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!