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The Rise in Deferral MBA Programs


An increasing number of top business schools are offering deferral MBA programs to which current undergraduate students apply during their senior year. In most cases, students will work for a couple of years after graduating from school before beginning their MBA studies. These programs give ambitious students the chance to lock in a top MBA program before entering the workforce.

Harvard Business School’s 2+2, where students work for two years before starting on campus, is one of the best-known deferral MBA programs. Stanford’s Deferred Enrollment Program has a similar two-year deferral while Yale SOM’s Silver Scholars Program allows students to study in an MBA program immediately upon finishing college. After one year, students enter the workforce for a year and then return to Yale SOM for the third year to finish their MBA.


Over the past few years, these programs have risen in popularity. This past year, Kellogg became one of the latest top schools to add a deferral MBA program with the launch of Kellogg Future Leaders. Berkeley Haas also introduced its deferral program in 2020, though this is the first year that Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access is available to deferral applicants outside of UC Berkeley. Wharton introduced its Advance Access Program not too long ago as well, which is available to both undergraduate and full-time master’s students in their final year of study.



Other deferral MBA programs include Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Program, Chicago Booth Scholars Program, UVA Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program, and MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission.

With later spring deadlines, candidates finish the undergraduate recruiting process and (hopefully) secure full-time job placement before applying. Successful applicants have already demonstrated considerable leadership through internships and extracurricular activities, either on or off campus.


Strong candidates also have a clear sense of their career goals, though this often comes only after working together with a consultant on the applications (and keep in mind that the goals can definitely change over time). While these programs are competitive, they are a good option for high achievers looking to get a jump on the MBA application process.


Most applicants are required to submit either GMAT or GRE scores, though in some cases this requirement can be waived. Northwestern undergraduates applying to Kellogg Future Leaders are not required to submit test scores. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, MIT Sloan will allow candidates applying to Sloan Early Admission to submit their applications without test scores. Sloan has assured that the admissions committee will “review their submitted material as is and without negative inferences.”


Candidates applying to UVA Darden’s Future Year Scholars program have a number of standardized tests to choose from. Darden accepts not only GMAT and GRE but also EA, MCAT, LSAT, SAT, and ACT scores.



Those submitting GMAT or GRE scores should aim for the same range as applicants admitted through the regular admissions pool, as the average scores are often very similar. To help applicants reach their test score goals, Personal MBA Coach offers customized GMAT or GRE tutoring.

Though deferral MBA programs admit college seniors from a variety of academic backgrounds, it is important to note that certain programs give some preference to underrepresented career paths or backgrounds.


For example, Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program gives some preference to STEM majors, applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds, those going into technically demanding roles, and applicants pursuing entrepreneurship.


No matter the industry or function admitted students enter prior to matriculation, they must have at least two years of continuous work experience (with the exception of Yale Silver Scholars). Applicants often have the opportunity to defer past two years, though the maximum deferment is around four years.

To find out more about the programs available and the application requirements, download our latest eBook for free today!

About Personal MBA Coach:


Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2, currently holding the #2 ranking on Poets&Quants.


We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing and mock interviews. Our team includes a former M7 admissions director and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6M in scholarships!


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