I am applying to several U.S. urban planning programs that begin in Fall 2013. Most of the schools I am applying to have a deadline in January and February, but it may be prudent to apply earlier, given competition. In an extreme example, I heard that all University of Pittsburgh programs will fill early as Penn State becomes less desirable, and far fewer prospective students apply there. Of course, given how insanely competitive graduate school admissions are today compared with five years ago, I imagine I'll hear more horror stories.
So how long before the deadline should I submit my applications? Would an early submission give me an edge? If it helps, I have taken the GRE, have identified programs, and expect my reccomendation letters sometime in September. The applications themselves should take only take me a few weeks to complete thoughtfully.