Most business schools, especially the ones in the US, have around 2-3 rounds of applications submission. This is primarily to reduce the load of applications they receive. The first round generally ends in late September to early October, the second round in early January and the final round in early April.
These are rounds of applications and not steps. The acceptance notifications for each round are different for each round. This does not mean your chances of admission are the least in the third round; equal weight is given to applications in all three rounds.
So when should you apply? As soon as possible, especially if you’re an international candidate. Mostly it depends on when you’re fine with submitting your scores and completion of documents. Nonetheless, for international candidates, it is advised to apply in the first or second round to ease the process of other documentation and visas. If you apply in the third round, what happens is, there is less buffer time between application acceptances and joining, thus, there’s a rush to complete the admission process.
Also, there is preliminary work which might be required for some candidates. Plus, if you’re seeking financial aid, the applications need to be submitted immediately after your acceptance, but the processing is done only after Round 3 completion. This needs to be ensured to be finished in-time to allow application processing.
For fellowships, outside the home university, there are separate deadlines, which generally are in April, so in case, you’re applying as a fellow, you still have enough time in your hand. In the scenario that you’ve missed on the first round of admissions, we suggest you to speed up the applications processing, as it takes time for payments and filing. Wish you good luck.