• Scott Edinburgh

The Rise in Deferral MBA Programs

An increasing number of top business schools are offering deferral MBA programs where current undergraduate students apply during their senior year. In most cases, students will work for a couple 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 programs. Stanford has a similar two-year deferral while Yale SOM has Silver Scholars, which 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 SOM for the third year to finish their MBA.

Over the past few years we have seen these programs rise in popularity. Kellogg became the latest top school to add a deferral program with the launch of Kellogg Future Leaders. Wharton launched the Advance Access Program, which now includes students outside of the University of Pennsylvania community. Berkeley Haas also added a new program this year for Berkeley undergraduate students, with plans to expand the program in the future.

Other 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 secure full-time job placement (hopefully) before applying. Successful applicants have already demonstrated considerable leadership through internships and extracurricular activities, either on or off campus. They also have a strong 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 the GMAT or the GRE, though there are cases where this requirement can be waived. Northwestern undergraduates applying to Kellogg Future Leaders and MIT undergraduates with a cumulative GPA of 4.2 or higher applying to Sloan Early Admission are not required to submit test scores. In addition, University of Virginia undergraduates can submit either the SAT or the ACT in lieu of the GMAT or the GRE. 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, HBS’ 2+2 program gives some preference to STEM majors, applicants from a lower socio-economic background, applicants going into a technically demanding role, and applicants pursuing entrepreneurship. No matter what 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 period is around four years.

To find out more about the programs available and the application requirements, download our latest eBook:

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!


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