An Overview of Deferred Admissions MBA Programs

After you graduate from college, would you not love to know that you have a guaranteed spot at a top MBA program in a few years? If you had secured such a spot, you would likely pursue work that genuinely interested you in the interim. Deferred admissions programs, which allow candidates who have been accepted to leading business schools to postpone their actual enrollment, can provide this kind of opportunity. Individuals are eligible to apply if they are in their final year of college or a full-time master’s program they entered directly from college. Some business schools offer admission to third-year undergraduate students as well. If admitted, applicants will typically gain two to four years of work experience after graduation before enrolling in the MBA program.

The deferred admissions application mirrors the regular MBA application but has different deadlines. For example, the Harvard Business School (HBS) 2+2 deadline is in April, which is much later than the deadlines for the first two rounds of applications for the school’s regular MBA program. While the deadlines for all deferred admissions programs differ, they are generally in the spring.

Given the advantages—and absence of disadvantages—of applying to a deferred admissions program, these options can actually be more competitive than their respective regular MBA programs, which are of course already highly competitive! Admitted deferred applicants tend to have very high test scores and GPAs.

The HBS 2+2 program was the first and is now the largest and most well-known deferred admissions program. Other leading schools have created their own versions; Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan, and UPenn Wharton all introduced deferred admissions programs in recent years. All deferred admissions programs have a similar structure, and most are open to candidates from any college, though this was initially not the case.

Which Schools Have Deferred Admissions MBA Programs, and How Do They Compare?

The following deferred MBA admissions programs each require candidates to have approximately two to five years of work experience before starting the program. Check the programs’ websites for details about cohort size, scholarship opportunities, and other differentiators:

  • Chicago Booth—Scholars Program
  • Columbia Business School—Deferred Enrollment
  • Harvard Business School—2+2
  • MIT Sloan—MBA Early Admission
  • Northwestern Kellogg—Future Leaders
  • NYU Stern—NYU x NYU/Stern
  • Stanford GSB—Deferred Enrollment
  • UVA Darden—Future Year Scholars
  • Wharton—Moelis Advance Access
  • Yale SOM—Silver Scholars

Applying to these programs is not much different than applying to typical full-time MBA programs—however, you will not have much, if any, career experience to draw from and use in your application essays. So, rather than focusing on your professional accomplishments (or lack thereof), look at your community and volunteer endeavors, club involvements, college athletics, academic engagements such as teaching assistantships, and personal accomplishments. Be sure to highlight your depth of achievement in your resume and essays. For your recommendations, consider an internship manager, a professor you are particularly close with, a coach or mentor, or even a faculty supervisor from a student group you belong to. One more piece of advice is to try to have full-time post-college work lined up. This will signal to the admissions committee that you are already positioned for success.

For more information about deferred MBA programs, download our free guide The HBS 2+2 and Deferred Admissions Guide and watch this video:

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