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Round 3 MBA Apps vs. January Intake

B-school plan a bit off track? January intake might save the day!


Everything went sideways with the GMAT. You broke your leg. You ended up working a ton after changing jobs. Whatever it was, you missed the boat on getting those @#$% MBA applications in by Round 2. But you don’t want to sit on your hands for 18 interminable months before starting business school next September.


Sometimes Round 3 is worth the risk. Tick tock goes the clock. Maybe you’re unemployed. Been over 30 for a while now. Or working for an evil Disney villain. I’ve had success with Round 3 clients! Round 3 is there for a reason. In your application, mention why you’re applying in R3. That helps.


If you’re considering R3, some schools might be better options than others. UVA-Darden, NYU-Stern, Tuck, and INSEAD are considered some of best bets. Booth could be a longer shot, but I’ve had success there as well as with IESE in Barcelona, and Ivey for those with Toronto ties.


Another option, or perhaps a back-up plan, would be to apply for January intake, or J-term. R1 intake for J-term is right around the corner. If you’re overrepresented (for example, Chinese, Indian, white male), this is a good option for you.


There are a few caveats: with the exception of INSEAD, you will be skipping the summer internship. For that reason, J-term isn’t ideal for people looking to switch industries. But if you are doing an MBA to advance in your current industry, J-term might be a wise choice, saving you time and money.


In the US, your biggest opportunity for J-term is Columbia. If you plan to apply, I would recommend submitting for J-term over regular term after round 2. The application opens in June and has an October deadline – BUT – you should submit as soon as possible to increase your chances.


You’re probably wondering if applying for Columbia’s J-term gives you an advantage. There are mixed reviews. However, make no mistake about it, Career Services cares about their placement statistics because it factors into rankings. If you don’t need an internship and already have experience in your desired industry, you 1) definitely won’t be dragging down their internship placement stats, and 2) seem more likely to have commanded a full-time job offer by graduation.


  • NYU-Stern also offers J-term intake for part-time students (Early 2/15, 1st 4/1, 2nd 5/15).


  • In Canada, Ivey (R2 4/21, R3 7/12, R3 9/20) offers January intake for a March start – target the April Round 2.


  • In Europe, INSEAD (R1 3/5, R2 4/23, R3 6/18), HEC (2/1, 3/1, 4/1, etc monthly), and IMD (R1 2/5, R2 5/1, R3 7/1) offer January intake. I highly encourage you to go for R1 or R2 for INSEAD.


Many of these schools have R4 and beyond, so check out my Top Program Deadlines page for a comprehensive list.


No matter when you apply, one thing remains the same. You want to capture the adcom’s attention with a clear and compelling application that will position you for success and set you apart from the competition.



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