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Mission Admission: Deciding How Many Schools to Target

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

These days, as candidates consider their strategies for Round 2 of the MBA application cycle, many have a logical question in mind: To how many business schools should I apply? 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, you can apply to a mix of reach, competitive and safe schools and can thereby truly cover your bases. Of course, each applicant has his or her own risk profile and timing to consider, but for most candidates, applying to too few schools can increase the risk of not being admitted, while applying to too many can be overkill.




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