5 Times it Makes Sense to Apply to Only One MBA Program

apply to only one MBA
Many schools consider couples applying together as a special case.

Deciding how many business schools to apply to is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The majority of applicants target four to six schools. But some candidates choose to focus their energies and apply to only one MBA program. The reasons range from the personal to the professional to the financial.  Believe it or not, this single-minded approach can pay off—and increase your chances of getting in. Here you’ll find five scenarios where putting all of your eggs in one basket is a perfectly valid decision.

Location-specific requirements

Most applicants consider location when coming up with their school list. Sometimes candidates prefer an urban environment over rural. Or, a warm climate instead of cold. Often the location preference is industry-specific. For instance, applicants keen on finance often look exclusively at schools in or near New York City.

Do you need to remain in your current region? Maybe you want to live in a specific city. In these cases, you may need to apply to only one MBA program because it’s your only option. Perhaps you have the needs of a spouse or children to consider. If so, you may want to attend business school without uprooting the lives of your loved ones. The location requirement holds especially true for applicants considering part-time or evening MBA programs who plan to continue working while they earn their degree.

Company sponsorship

If you will attend business school on your company’s dime, you may have to contend with the caveat that they will only sponsor a particular MBA program or only a part-time program. If you plan to stay at the organization long-term, you might view the limitation on where you can earn that MBA degree educational subsidy is probably worth it.

Highly specific career goals

The decision to apply to only one MBA program can make sense for a person who has a very particular career path–say, healthcare, technology, real estate, etc. You might be very interested in a specific program offered by one school, or a teaching method, or a set of professors.

If you can determine which MBA program will likely connect you with the company you want to work for, and if that company only recruits at one program, then there’s probably only one place you want to earn the degree.

One former client, Jeremy, had a good job at a tech startup in Menlo Park. He only wanted to remain in that world – exploring other startups, networking with tech entrepreneurs and executives, and staying looped into that scene.

He also wanted to keep working a few hours a week during school. Stanford Graduate School of Business, an ambitious choice, was the only school that captured his heart. Fortunately, the gamble paid off. He ultimately received an admission offer from this prestigious program.

Joint application with a partner

While this demographic makes up a small percentage of applicants, it’s a significant one. You’ll need to explicitly convey to the admissions committee that you and your partner are both applying to their program. Many schools consider couples applying together as a special case.

Schools generally don’t want to break up families or relationships. If both candidates meet admission requirements, you may have an easier shot at entry. As you select your schools, research clubs and support available to married students. If you can, find out how other applicants presented their case to the admission committee.


Some applicants have had their heart set on a single school since the idea of pursuing an MBA first started percolating. If you fall into this camp, you’ll have an easier time than many other applicants explaining why “X” program truly is the only place for you.

Showing how you are a good fit for the program, and proving your utter commitment to attending that school, reassures the admissions committee that you will accept an offer of admission if given a chance. The admissions committee always have yield in the back of their minds when making admissions offers. No school likes it when accepted candidates turn them down for a competing program.

As a bonus, it’s much easier to research and apply to only one MBA program. You have a single MBA application and can completely tailor it to one school, as opposed to creating several unique applications at the same time.

Whatever your reasons for having a single b-school on your mind, make sure that your academic and professional profile is in line with the requirements and expectations at that particular school. This approach requires pragmatism and optimism in equal measure.

A version of this post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Stanford GSB and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

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