Deferred admissions MBA programs have grown increasingly popular in the past several years, and schools are responding to the interest. Such programs as the MIT Sloan School of Management and Columbia Business School have launched programs allowing admitted applicants to delay their enrollment to gain work experience first. Applying to a deferred admissions program is often viewed as a “safe” and risk-free option for undergraduates who feel certain that an MBA is the right path for them.
Harvard Business School (HBS) launched the 2+2 Program, one of the first of its kind, in 2008, with 106 students in the first admitted class. Class sizes within the program have remained similar since, with 115 students in the most recent admitted class, but applicant interest has grown notably: the program received 630 applications in the year of its launch, compared with 1,403 in 2019.
The 2+2 Program consists of, as the name suggests, a period of at least two (and up to four) years after acceptance when the student is expected to gain work experience, in addition to two years spent in the HBS full-time MBA program. Students in their last year of a bachelor’s, joint bachelor/master’s, or master’s program—as long as the applicant moved straight from the undergraduate program to the master’s and did not gain work experience in between—are eligible to apply.
The 2+2 Program application is largely the same as for the full-time program, though HBS notes on its site that slight preference is given to applicants whose paths do not typically lead to business school, such as those “planning to work in an operating company,” those “from a lower socio-economic background,” and those entering “a technically demanding role” or “pursuing entrepreneurship.” Within the class admitted in 2019, 57% were STEM undergraduate majors, 24% majored in economics/business, and 19% majored in humanities/social sciences.
Find out more about the 2+2 Program and other deferred admissions MBA programs, including those offered by such schools as the Yale School of Management, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in our free HBS 2+2 and Deferred Admissions Primer.