B-School Chart of the Week: To How Many Schools Are You Applying?

Although quantifying a school’s profile certainly does not tell you everything, it can sometimes be helpful in simplifying the many differences between the various MBA programs. Each week, we bring you a chart to help you decide which of the schools’ strengths speak to you.

We recently asked aspiring MBAs to answer a variety of survey questions about their business school prospects and perspectives. Now the results are in, and for those who are curious about their fellow applicants’ views on business school, we will be sharing some of the collected data in our B-School Chart of the Week blog series.

Unless your heart is dead set on a specific program, applying to only one or two top business schools without a contingency plan can be risky. To be safe and provide themselves with more options, most candidates cast a wider net—but just how wide? If you cannot realistically see yourself attending certain schools, applying to them anyway is probably just a waste of time.

So, how many schools should you target? The “right” number will of course vary from candidate to candidate, and several factors should determine the total number of applications you submit, including your level of confidence in your candidacy, how many schools are feasible choices for you, whether you would be willing to reapply the following year and the cost in terms of both time and money.

Still, whether you are preparing to apply in the first round or later in the admissions cycle, you may wonder how many applications your fellow candidates plan to submit. We recently surveyed 68 applicants and asked, “To how many schools do you plan to apply this application season?” Of those, 46 respondents were from the United States and 22 were from other countries. Both for each group individually and for the overall pool, five was the most common response. Interestingly, all the international applicants in the survey indicated that they would be applying to at least three MBA programs.


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