Your essential step-by-step MBA application timeline


If you’re considering applying to an MBA program in 2019 or further down the road, you’ll want to bookmark this page. This guide will offer invaluable tips for success, serving as a benchmark against which you can track your progress.

The following monthly timeline will help you check off all the right application boxes in a timely and efficient way. You’ll find this to be an indispensable resource for clarifying your goals and staying on top all the necessary MBA application components.


This is the time to register for the GMAT and start prepping for the exam. It’s important to give yourself three to six months of prep time so you’ll be well-prepared and confident when it comes time to take the exam. A critical component to your GMAT prep is finding the tools that best match your current lifestyle and that will also set you up for success. TCU offers free GMAT prep classes both online and on-campus, so you can get the best GMAT prep whether you live locally or not.

March and April

You’ll want to begin researching your target schools during these months. In order to identify your top schools — those whose offerings will support your future career aspirations — you’ll first need to fully understand your goals and be able to articulate why you want to reach them. Once you’re clear on your professional goals and your reasons for getting an MBA, you’ll be able to better identify which schools can best help you accomplish those goals and eliminate those that aren’t a good match.

Determine the right type of program for you

There are many different types of MBA formats, so be sure to hone in on the ones that will best fit your lifestyle, schedule and goals. For example, if you need to continue working full-time while pursuing your MBA, an evening-only format (such as Neeley’s Professional MBA program) will be ideal. If you are looking for a significant career change and want to access new industries through internships or consulting projects, obligations and lifestyle allow you to return to school full-time, then you may decide to focus only on full-time MBA programs. Or, if you’re already in a leadership position in your company, an Executive MBA weekend program may be the best option for your schedule. Note that if you do plan to remain employed during your studies, you should research your company’s willingness to support a healthy work/school balance.

Consider location

Another thing to consider when choosing your target schools is location. For example, a school located in a major metropolitan center can offer the "learning laboratory" experience of a college town in addition to the numerous networking opportunities to be found in a big city. The DFW metroplex, for example, is seen as one of the fastest growing spots for employment, with areas bringing in more jobs and revenue for DFW.

Expand your industry knowledge

March and April are also good months to look for ways to expand your industry knowledge and discover other resources to help you narrow down your top schools. Attending industry conferences in your area, scheduling informational interviews with industry experts and enrolling in webinars are all great ways to increase your industry expertise and further clarify your career goals.

Check out your prospective schools' websites for opportunities to learn more about their program offerings, whether through on-campus information sessions or MBA fairs that bring representatives from top business schools across the globe to an event in your region. The MBA Tour and QS World MBA Tour are two MBA fairs you may want to look into.


Begin the process of identifying individuals to tap for gathering recommendations. Start reaching out to connections who can attest to your professional ability, career progress, work ethic and future potential.


This month, take the GMAT exam you’ve been preparing so diligently for and update your resume. While it may be tempting to hold off on refreshing your resume, putting in the time to get it done now is a simple step that will pay off later. A few months from now, when you’re heavily focused on essays and applications, you’ll be glad your resume has already been taken care of.


Examine your list of potential schools and further narrow it down to your top choices. Determine which schools you’ll be applying to during each round of applications, and be sure to take note of each school’s application deadlines, as they can vary from school to school.

Get a head start on writing your essays during this time, as well. As with deadlines, different schools will have different essay topics and requirements, so you’ll want to be sure you answer the specific essay question each school is asking. These essays offer an excellent opportunity to bring some life and personality to your application and to help you showcase your strengths.

This is the point in the application process where your research from previous months will pay off. You’ll be able to craft your essay to help the admissions committee understand your goals for getting an MBA and how those goals align with the strengths and missions of that particular university. Of course, it’s important to do so in a way that is genuine and true to who you are.

September through December

These last few months of the year are when you’ll need to finish your first round of applications. For instance, TCU’s deadline for early decision falls in mid-October. You’ll want to make it a priority to apply to all your top schools in the early decision round to increase your chances of admission.

During this period, you’ll also interview with schools that have extended an invitation to you. Just as with job interviews, these interviews serve as a two-way exchange, giving both you and the school the opportunity to get to know one another more and assess whether your goals align with the school’s mission.

Whenever possible, schedule in-person interviews versus remote interviews. Not only will you have a better opportunity to impress the school, but it will also give you a chance to experience the college’s culture first-hand.

This is why Neeley School of Business includes a meeting with current students and/or alumni on the agenda for prospective students who have been invited to campus for an interview. For that purpose, applicants invited to interview at the Neeley School of Business have access to numerous individuals across our community. Dinner with students, alumni and significant others takes place the night before interviews, followed by a full day for the admission interview, a class visit, lunch with current students and meetings with senior administrators, faculty and our career services team. We want to make sure our prospective students get a true feel for the Neeley MBA experience so they’re equipped to make the most informed decision possible.

Learn More About Neeley

TCU’s Neeley School of Business offers its students many benefits, including:

  • Expert faculty ranked No. 2 in the world by The Economist
  • Cutting-edge MBA programs that cater to a variety of career interests
  • Small class sizes
  • Unique experiential learning opportunities
  • Numerous networking opportunities
  • Prime location in D-FW offering access to many top corporations

You can find more information about TCU’s diverse MBA programs — including specific application information and steps — here. The Neeley School of Business caters to both full-time students and working professionals and has program offerings in several specialty areas.

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