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CBS Ends Rolling Admissions and Early Decision

In a major change, Columbia Business School has ended its longstanding practice of admitting students to its MBA program on a rolling basis. With this change, CBS also eliminated its Early Decision option.

For its fall admissions, CBS will now offer three rounds of admissions with fixed application deadlines, generally aligned with the admissions cycles used at most other US business schools. Applications will not be reviewed until after the deadline. Exact dates for announcing offers of interviews and final admissions decisions have not been released. 

Round Application Deadline Interview Decisions Released Final Decisions Released

Most schools are using a process like this. Columbia was special; they stood out among top US MBA programs for reviewing applications as they were received and releasing decisions on a rolling basis. 

This allowed applicants some strategic advantages. Under rolling admissions, you could submit your application shortly after they became available in June and get a decision in July or August before you needed to apply to other schools if you were not admitted to CBS.

This rolling process could be advantageous to early applicants. Fortuna saw a distinct difference in the level of competition for admission early in the cycle, giving early applicants a stronger shot at success.

This was especially true for those who opted into the Early Decision (ED) pool. Applying under ED let applicants learn their status fast, but it required admitted students to commit within two weeks with a hefty $6,000 deposit and refrain from applying to other schools. Those requirements narrowed the ED pool to candidates with a strong interest in CBS, so the chances of getting in were higher. 

Although some other schools also had some policies designed to incentivize early commitment, CBS’s ED process was also unique. The ED option let candidates signal their strong interest in CBS and, in return, it gave the school a way to lock in attractive candidates. Early review when there was plenty of space left in the class may have garnered those applicants a little extra attention.  

Although CBS has eliminated ED, the new Round 1 deadline is, in fact, earlier than the final ED deadline has been in the past. CBS is still charging a hefty $6,000 deposit for those admitted in Round 1, but the stakes are lower because applicants will have decisions in hand from all other schools that they applied to in R1 before they must commit. (Deposit amounts and timing  differ for each round.)

The change to fixed deadlines affects students applying to enter the program in August. CBS will continue to use rolling admissions for its January cohort. Known as J-Term, this shorter, 16-month program includes classes over the summer while the August admits are completing internships. The J-Term catches up to and merges with their peers in the fall term, completing the program together.

CBS has said aligning their admissions deadline cycles with other schools will help reduce stress and confusion for applicants. Whether or not it reduces confusion, the change means that now applicants will hear from all schools within a particular admissions round at roughly the same time, reducing some of the stress of having to commit to one school while waiting on another. 

Fortuna coaches are reaching out to the CBS admissions team to gather more details on this change and find out whether it will still be advantageous to apply early. We are available to talk with clients who are preparing CBS applications to talk with them about what it means for them. 

For more specific CBS advice, see our blog on how to tackle their revised essays. 

And as always, if you are interested in personalized coaching, please sign up for our free consultation

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