What is Deferred MBA? Top Programs and Benefits



Want to pursue an MBA but don’t have the required 2-3 years of work experience? If you are in the final/senior year of your undergraduate or master’s degree and are committed to pursuing an MBA, the deferred MBA program could be an excellent choice for you. So, what are deferred MBA programs?

While you are enrolled in your final year of undergraduate or graduate studies, you can still apply to business schools through deferred MBA programs. It allows you to secure a seat before accumulating the required work experience. So, you can only start the program after you have gained the minimum work experience, which is generally 2 years.

top deferred MBA programs

This article helps you to understand who should go for a deferred MBA program and its benefits. We also highlight some top deferred MBA programs available at leading business schools. 

Deferred MBA Programs – 5 Key Benefits 

Deferred MBA programs offer a guaranteed MBA seat two or more years prior so that you can pursue your early career years with increased confidence and risk tolerance. Apart from getting early admission to a business school, pursuing a deferred MBA program has many benefits:

  1. The MBA Application process is less intimidating 
  2. Allows you to focus on your career 
  3. Access to B-school’s Career Services and Network
  4. Flexibility on when to attend
  5. Less Application Fee Cost

The MBA Application Process is less intimidating 

The MBA Application process is a bit easier because you will be in student mode when you apply for a deferred MBA program. You would be able to remember all the tips for a successful application. Moreover, you would be competing with a less competitive peer set. How? 

When you apply to a deferred MBA program, your application is compared with students at the same level as you. Generally, the candidates applying to a deferred enrollment program are college students with solid academic backgrounds. But, their resumes are not satisfactory. They are offered admission based on the prospect of the accomplishments they may achieve. However, when you apply through the traditional MBA process, you are evaluated on your:

  1. Past experiences, and
  2. How have your experiences shaped your career

So, in the case of pursuing a deferred MBA program, your ability to gain admission depends much more on the narrative story you tell, which is in your power to control. However, the traditional MBA admissions process requires you to dig deeper into the twists and turns of your career, which you don’t always have the power to control.

Focus on your Career 

Rather than taking stress about your MBA application, you stay focused on your career and build a professional experience. Moreover, if you get admitted to a top business school’s deferred MBA program, you get a career boost from the prestige of the B-school. For example, employers might be more willing to risk hiring you because the selection to Stanford GSB deferred MBA program signals your ability and skills. 

A deferred enrollment enables you to build expertise, enhance your knowledge and skills, and expand your perspective. Moreover, you get to explore industries before earning your MBA. 

Access to B-school’s Career Services and Network 

You will have access school’s career services and support, which will help you maximize your chances of getting a job. Moreover, you will most likely gain immediate access to the school’s alums, students, and faculty network. So, you will be able to build a more comprehensive network than students who came in through the normal MBA admissions process. This will help you start your MBA on the right foot and offer you professional opportunities before going to B-school.  

For example, HBS has many networking events and tools available to all its 2+2 students. HBS student clubs hold career-related events where students can network with more than 40,000 HBS alums to help them explore career opportunities. 

Flexibility on when to attend 

Most top deferred MBA programs offer the flexibility to attend business school when you feel it’s the best time for your career. For instance, HBS 2+2 program requires you to have at least 2 years of work experience. You can come back after 2, 3, or even 4 years. Similarly, Stanford GSB deferred program allows you to take one to four years to gain professional experience before you embark on your MBA journey. 

Lesser Application Fee

Compared to the application fee that a traditional applicant pays, the deferred MBA application fee is less. For instance, if you are eligible for Stanford GSB, you will pay a reduced application fee of $100, compared to $275, for traditional applicants. 

Eligibility Criteria for Deferred MBA Programs 

Students in their last year of undergraduate or recent graduates are eligible to apply for a deferred MBA program. One of the major criteria for applying is that you must be an early career professional with no or little full-time job experience. For instance, at HBS 2+2 program, you can apply if you are a master’s student and have not held a full-time work position (other than internships or co-ops). 

Candidates applying to deferred MBA programs have a specific professional path. They are keen on pursuing an MBA and understand how it can help them reach their objectives. A deferred MBA candidate has a strong academic record and can demonstrate leadership potential. Since the prospective students won’t have much work experience, they need to have achievements to set them apart. For example, talk about competitions you have won during your undergraduate program. If you participated in some Olympiad or have your startup, mention that in your application. 

So, remember that deferred MBA programs are primarily geared at high-potential individuals that business schools want to capture early. Thus, ensure your application reflects your intelligence, maturity, passion, and leadership.  

Top Deferred MBA Programs 

Some top business schools grant pre-admissions to students for their MBA program, usually two years in advance. Also, you get the advantage of securing a seat in the future class of their flagship MBA program before you can accumulate work experience. 

In this section, we look into the deferred MBA programs offered at top business schools. Here is a list of the 10 best business schools that provide deferred MBA programs:

  1. Chicago Booth Scholars Program
  2. Wharton MBA – Moelis Advance Access Program
  3. Kellogg Future Leaders
  4. Stanford GSB Deferred Admissions 
  5. HBS 2+2
  6. MIT Sloan MBA Early Admissions 
  7. Yale SOM Silver Scholars 
  8. Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment 
  9. Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access 
  10. Darden Future year admissions
Top Deferred MBA ProgramsHow long can you defer Application Fee Application deadline 
Chicago Booth Scholars Program 2-5 years No Fees11th April 2023 
Wharton MBA – Moelis Advance Access Program2-4 years $ 10026th April 2023
Kellogg Future Leaders2-5 years No FeesTBA
Stanford GSB – Deferred Enrollment2-4 years $ 10013th September 2022 (Round 1)
HBS 2+22-4 years $ 10027th April 2023 
MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission 2-5 years No Fees19th April 2023 
Yale SOM Silver Scholars1+ years TBATBA
Columbia Business School deferred enrolment 2-5 years No Fees15th April 2023 
Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access 2-5 years TBATBA
Darden Future Year 2-5 years No FeesTBA

Let’s look into the top 5 Deferred MBA Programs in detail below.

Chicago Booth Scholars Program 

Chicago Booth Scholars program allows you to join Booth’s full-time or part-time MBA program in the final year of your undergraduate studies. Once you get admission, you can defer for 2-5 years while you gain work experience. Moreover, you are automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship, leadership awards, and other funding support. As an added advantage, the $250 application fee is waived. 

Eligibility Criteria 

Chicago Booth Scholars program looks for candidates who demonstrate curiosity, personal maturity, leadership, and a good track record of part-time jobs, internships, and entrepreneurial spirit. The following candidates are eligible to apply:

  • Students in their final year of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Students in their final year of a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree.
  • Students must graduate from their program between 1st October 2022 and 30th September 2023 to qualify for the Chicago Booth Scholars 2023 admissions cycle.

Application Deadline 

Here is the application deadline for the Chicago Booth Scholars program:

Application Deadline 11th April 2023
Interview Deadline April to May 2023 
Decision 15th June 2023 

All Chicago Booth Scholars must pay a $600 deposit yearly until they enroll. 

Wharton MBA – Moelis Advance Access Program

The deferred MBA program at Wharton is known as Moelis Advance Access Program. The program was established in 2017 by Ken Moelis and Julie Taffet Moelis. It offers undergraduate and full-time master’s students in their final year a guaranteed seat to the Wharton MBA after pursuing 2-4 years of quality work experience. The application fee is also reduced when you apply to Wharton’s deferred MBA program. 

Eligibility Criteria

The Moles Advance Access Program seeks innovative, intellectually curious students ready to take professional risks while impacting the world. The following students are eligible to apply:

  • Undergraduate students in their final year or if they are graduating early. 
    • If you graduate between 1st October and 31st December, you must apply during the Moelis Round in spring.
    • If you are graduating between 1st January and 30th September, you must apply during the Moelis Round of your graduation year.
  • Master’s students in their final year of study. However, you should not have a full-time job between your undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

Application Deadline

Here is the application deadline for the Moelis Advance Access Program:

Application Deadline 26th April 2023 
Interview invitation25th May 2023 
Interview dates 2nd June – 14th June 2023 
Decision 29th June 2023 
Deposit Deadline 3rd August 2023 

The students who want to enroll in the program must pay a $1000 admission deposit on or before the deposit deadline—an additional $1000 is due the year you enroll. 

Kellogg Future Leaders

After getting accepted at the Kellogg Future Leaders, your spot in the Kellogg MBA program is secure for 2-5 years while you gain experience in the professional world. You will also have access to Kellogg’s resources and support from a dedicated admissions officer. There is no application fee. However, you need to pay an admission deposit of $500 for every year of deferment. 

Eligibility Criteria

The following students are eligible to apply:

  • Graduates between October 2021 and September 2022 can apply for 2023.
  • Undergraduates majoring in any discipline in the last year of school.
  • Master’s students who went into a graduate program from undergraduate.

Stanford GSB – Deferred Enrollment

Stanford GSB deferred enrolment offers you one to four years to gain professional experience and then embark on your MBA journey. The maximum time to start pursuing your MBA is four years. Based on the business school’s assessment of your application, they may offer a deferral for a different period than you requested. So, tell the admissions committee how you will use your deferral period productively. A reduced application fee of $100 is payable. 

Eligibility Criteria

The mission of Stanford GSB is to develop insightful, principled, and innovative leaders. They want to learn how you think, lead, and see the world in your application. The following students are eligible to apply:

  • A college senior or a student in a graduate program.
  • Student in the final year of a bachelor’s degree or joint bachelor’s program. The degree is to be completed between 1st October 2022 and 30th September 2023.
  • Students should not have full-time professional work experience.

Application Deadline

Here is the 2023 application deadline for Stanford GSB deferred enrolment:

Application RoundsApplication DeadlineDecisions
Round 113th September 20228th December 2022
Round 25th January 202330th March 2023
Round 311th April 202325th May 2023

HBS 2+2 

The HBS 2+2 program consists of at least two years of professional work experience and two years in the regular HBS MBA Program. If you are enrolled in the HBS 2+2 program, you have four years to start your MBA journey. There is a non-refundable application fee of $100. 

Eligibility Criteria

If you are in your final year of study, you are eligible to apply in the current HBS 2+2 application cycle. However, you must graduate from your program between 1st October 2022 and 30th September 2023. The following students are eligible to apply:

  • Who are in the final year of their undergraduate program.
  • Who have a Master’s Degree but have not held a full-time position.
  • Who are in the last year of joint bachelor’s and master’s program.

Application Deadline

Here is the decline of the HBS 2+2 program:

Application for 2+2 program Dates 
Application deadline 27th April 2023 
Decision6th July 2023 

Once you get admitted to the program and want to confirm your enrolment in the future MBA class, you need to pay a non-refundable $1,000 tuition deposit. You need to also withdraw applications from all other MBA programs. In many cases, HBS allows you to defer for three or four years based on prior approval. 

Top Deferred MBA Programs – FAQS

Who are eligible to apply to a deferred MBA program?

To be eligible for a deferred MBA program, you must be a current student at any undergraduate or graduate program.  The program is open to students from all academic backgrounds.

Is deferred MBA worth it?

Yes. A deferred MBA program is worth it if you are keen on pursuing an MBA and understand how it can help you reach your objectives. The program helps you to secure an MBA Spot without work experience. It allows you 2-5 years of deferment to have a strong professional career before joining the MBA program. 

Is GMAT important for deferred MBA?

Yes. GMAT (or GRE) is an important component of your deferred MBA application to showcase your ability to thrive in a challenging academic environment. 

How long can I defer MBA acceptance?

Generally, you can defer MBA acceptance for 2-5 years. However, it depends on the business school you apply to. 

Can you defer your Harvard 2+2 MBA for more than 2 years?

Yes. You are limited to two years of deferral. The admissions committee often allows you to join the MBA program after gaining 3-4 years of professional experience. 

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