This post was written in 2013. The policies described here have been updated in 2014 but they may not be true for you today. ALWAYS check your school's rules carefully.
Here’s a list of business schools that have atypical policies. This is not a final list – there are plenty of other unusual exceptions and oddball rules out there among the MBA admissions departments. The policies on this page may even have changed by the time you’re reading this. The point of this post is to remind you to study your school’s rules carefully and don’t assume that the way one school does it is how all schools do.
- Stanford requires that all recommendations be submitted by the deadline. HBS and some other schools are more flexible and will marry-up a stray rec that arrives later and get it into your app. Not the GSB. Start hounding those recommenders now (well, probably you don’t want to hound them, exactly, given how they’re going to be answering questions about you like “Does he hound people when he wants them to do something for him?”)
- Berkeley Haas is the last holdout that requires a TOEFL score if the official language of your home country is not English – yes, even if your college education was conducted entirely in English. Maybe they’ll change this but we’re not seeing any indications of it. (Update: In the 2014 admissions cycle, UCLA added this restriction, too.)
- HBS doesn’t accept anything added to your application after you’ve submitted it – including a new GMAT score. You must have your final GMAT score before you submit (the unofficial score is fine but you can’t send in a new score afterwards). The exception? HBS allows recommendations to come in late – even like a day late. This would make for an exceedingly stressful app submit time for you, but if you have a straggler recommender, it may not kill your chances at Harvard.
Read the schools’ websites carefully, Brave Supplicant. Don’t commit any unnecessary fouls at this stage of the game.
ETA: Per the comment thread below, you should be reading the schools’ APPLICATIONS more carefully too, it seems.
Here's what others have said about this:
As someone who had a panic attack yesterday because of this, I would add schools that require notarized/certified translations of non-English transcripts at the time of application (the norm is official copies/translations after admit). Haas used to be the only one to require this (to my knowledge) but this year Booth does as well, without clearly mentioning it anywhere else than in the application. I made the point with the adcom (in a veeeeery gentle way) that it was kind of a big change as it requires a week or so in certain countries to get a certified translation (if your school doesn’t provide one).
The requirement for the translated/notarized transcripts at time of app submission is actually the norm. Just looked at Columbia, Yale, and Tuck (just as a sample) and they all require that. Would be surprised if a school did not, how else would the adcom read the transcripts if not in English?
Translation is not the issue, the certification is. Some schools (HBS, Stanford) require an unofficial translation, so I can submit a self-translated, self-reported transcript in English, and will provide a certified (i.e. sworn) translation only if interviewed or admitted. Others (Haas, Booth, and indeed Columbia also) require a notarized translation at the time of application. Maybe not a very big thing but it can be an additional pain in the butt (time, and money since a sworn translation costs a bunch at least here in Europe) when added to all the other tasks. I’ve seen it raised in a number of chats between Brave Supplicants and adcoms so I thought I’d make the point in case helpful here.
You translated your transcripts yourself??? That seems unbelievably risky. From HBS’s website:
Stanford has similar language.
Since you need to have official, certified translations before any school will actually accept you, it seems the prudent thing to just get them ahead of time.
Again, this is the norm. Stanford and Harvard are the exceptions. Tuck seems to be one as well (though we’d be surprised if they wanted to get applicant translations, frankly). In addition to Columbia and Yale that we cited, we just checked Kellogg, Wharton, MIT, Ross, Cornell, Duke and they also require official translations… so that’s 8 now. And you said that Chicago and Haas do too. So we’re at 10 out of 12 checked that do.
We honestly would never recommend an applicant do his own translation. This is not acceptable for letters of recommendation, why would it be so for transcripts? Potential for error, even if unintentional, is just too great and the risk too large.
And chastising the school for their requirements? Really???
Just a quick note long after the fact: The BSer in this comment exchange made it into some good schools so all ended up fine with them. We posted in more detail on translating transcripts in 2014:
ES, Do other schools allow you to ‘update them with an improved GMAT score’ after you have submitted your application? Any suggestions on how to update the AdCom?
@nycft011, many schools do – HBS is the most restrictive with a ‘no updates’ policy. Some schools even let you note a future GMAT test date in the app itself. If you’re planning to retest, then often it can be a good idea to mention that in an optional essay when submitting.
How to update the adcom is to send a short-and-sweet email to admissions, with a clear subject line, attaching your unofficial score report. Don’t wait to get the IR/AWA; send in the raw/total scores as soon as you have them.
For schools that do accept updates, there’s always a risk that the score is received too late to make a difference; if decisions have been made (e.g., to interview, or not) they won’t reconsider. You need to get the report in before the app is through the process. For schools like Booth or Duke that have supershort cycle times on their earliest rounds, the timing may not play in your favor. But it’s always worth a shot.
We did a series of posts on updating schools after the app has been submitted: