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.
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 the college. After one year, students enter the workforce for a year and then return to SOM for the third year to finish their MBA.
Kellogg has added 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 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.
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.
The Deferred Enrollment programme is aimed at students in either the final year of their bachelors or joint bachelor / graduate programme, or those currently in a graduate programme started immediately following undergrad or postgrad study.
Stanford cites deferred enrolment as a good option for those unsure of their long-term professional path and who feel they would benefit from full-time work experience before enrolling. They indicate some industries such as private equity, biotech, and management consulting recruit only MBA candidates with pre-MBA experience in that field or with specialized knowledge, so conducting some due diligence into the recruitment practices of possible target industries would be wise.
Kellogg’s Future Leaders program opened admissions in February 2020. This new deferred programme allows students to work for two to five years before beginning their MBA journey. Master's and undergraduate students (excluding law, medical and PhD students/grads, who apply through the standard admissions process) can come from any undergraduate study discipline and have either graduated in the past year, be in their final year, or have gone straight into graduate study post-bachelors.
The Silver Scholar's Program works slightly differently to some of the other deferred admission programmes on this list in that college seniors earn their MBA in a fast-tracked three-year format immediately following their undergraduate years. The programme structure is: Year 1 - core curriculum, Year 2 - full-time internship, Year 3 - electives.
Initially open to only University of Chicago undergraduates, in 2018, Booth opened admissions to its Chicago Booth Scholars deferred admissions programme to students from any university. The programme allows candidates to apply before they graduate from college, defer and gain professional experience for two to five years before joining for their MBA.
If students want to continue in employment instead of joining school full-time past five years, they are able to consider Booth’s Evening MBA or Weekend MBA Program instead.
Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program is open to final year college students, or those pursuing a 5th year master’s degree, who can work for two to four years before starting their MBA studies. Darden entices candidates with possible merit awards at the time of admission, and additional opportunities for scholarship consideration when the admitted student matriculates. Darden evaluates applications based on academics, extracurricular involvement, and personal characteristics.
If you are an ambitious and forward-thinking student, Sloan’s MBA Early Admission Program might be right for you. Open to final year or recently (current academic year) graduated students, or those in graduate study without work experience (started immediately following bachelors), students are able to work for two to five years before joining the MBA.