Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
These days, as candidates consider their strategy for the coming MBA admissions cycle, many have a logical question in mind: How many schools should I apply to? The answer, of course, varies dramatically from applicant to applicant, but the golden rule is that you should only apply to an MBA program if you have enough time to make your application the best it can be. So, if you have time to “perfect” only three applications, then you should focus on applying to just three schools—and not consider submitting five “average” applications.
In terms of a target number—assuming that time is not a factor and you can commit yourself to all of your applications—five or six is generally optimal. With five or six applications, candidates can apply to a mix of reach, competitive and safe schools and can therefore truly cover their bases. Of course, each applicant has his/her own risk profile and timing to consider, but for most candidates, too few schools can increase the risk of not being admitted, and too many can be overkill.