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Executive and professional education


When it comes to applying for your MBA, it can take a bit of planning and preparation to hit the deadline for your chosen programme.

Perfect timing

The Cambridge MBA has five application rounds, but you’ll need to organise yourself in advance of any of the application deadlines to make sure you don’t leave anything important out. Here is a handy guide to when you need to do what.

Prepare for and take your GMAT – at least eight to 10 weeks before you begin your application

Most people take a few months to prepare for their GMAT or GRE, using weekends and spare time to learn the format of the test and practise questions. According to the official GMAT website, 56 per cent of GMAT takers spent at least 51 hours preparing for the exam (and those who spent longer achieved a higher score), so it’s a good idea to book a test date at least a few months before you plan to submit your application.

We ask you to report your own GMAT or GRE score for the Cambridge MBA application and you should also ask the test provider to make your official score report available to us online (with the GMAT, you can do this free for up to five schools). We won’t be able to review your application until we are able to access your official score report, so leave enough time to make sure it’s available for us to check.

It’s worth noting that you might not get the score you are aiming for on your first attempt, so you might want to factor in time to retake it and get the score that you want.

Speak to your referee – six weeks before submitting application

Give your referee adequate time to think about and write a reference. Don’t leave it until the last minute, applications are often held up because of references being submitted late. When you apply for the Cambridge MBA, a request will automatically be sent to your referee once you have entered their contact details, so you can let them know when to expect a request.

For the Cambridge MBA, referees should be a current supervisor – or if that’s not possible, a former line manager or supervisor. If you are self-employed or run your own company, you can nominate a customer or supplier with whom you have a professional relationship. Either way, make sure they have enough time to write a considered reference which reflects you well.

Start your application – four to six weeks before deadline

We recommend that you start your application at least four weeks before you intend to submit it. Remember – you can save your Cambridge MBA online application at any stage.

You’ll need a bit of time to think about the three essay questions (we’d recommend you write them in a Word document first so you know the grammar and spelling is correct), as they need a lot of self-reflection, and it might take you a while to come up with examples which you are happy with.

You’ll also need a copy of your degree transcript to attach to your online application. If you don’t have a transcript, you can usually get a copy from your university, but they can take several weeks to arrive, so make sure you have this to hand.

Submit your application – a week or more before the deadline

Before submitting your Cambridge MBA application make sure you have proof-read your essay questions and that you are happy with the answers.

You can submit your application by 23:59 GMT on the day of your chosen deadline, but we’d recommend you do it a week or so before in case you have any technical difficulties or need to get in contact with Admissions.

We read all applications once they have been received (we don’t read them before this.) You can expect to hear from us within three weeks.

Interview – six weeks after application deadline

If your application is successful, you’ll be invited to interview. Interviews take place around six weeks after the application deadline for that round (the dates are on the website) and take place in Cambridge. You’ll be invited to a dinner the night before in a College, followed by an interview day where you’ll be interviewed by a member of faculty, have a meeting with a Careers Consultant and have a tour of Cambridge Colleges.

You’ll hear about the outcome of your interview within three weeks of your interview date.

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of Recruitment and Admissions says:

As well as the application timings, it’s also a good idea to think about things such as your funding options, whether or not you meet the language requirements, and the practicalities of relocation and leaving your current role. If you require a visa to study in the UK, we recommend applying by Round 4 at the latest to allow for this. If you are thinking about applying for any scholarships, consider applying earlier in the year, as some of them have earlier deadlines, though we do award bursaries throughout the year.