Deferred MBA Eligibility, Benefits, Application Process, Top Programs & Deadlines

Along with Leadership, Management, and problem-solving skills what most B-schools look for in applicants is if they have work experience. Most business schools require at least 2-5 years of work experience before candidates can apply to their traditional MBA programs. So, what to do if you are aiming for a top-notch MBA without work experience? Here comes the deferred MBA programs.

Deferred MBA Programs

Eligibility, Benefits, Top Deferred MBA Programs in the World, and 2022 Application Deadlines

Co-authored by Pavan Somwanshi

What is a Deferred MBA program?

A deferred MBA program is just like a traditional MBA program with one exception being that you can secure admission into the program and then gain the needed work experience. You can enroll in these programs 2 to 5 years after you’ve graduated from college. This makes it easier for students to not worry about their MBA applications and better focus on their work experience. 

Who can apply for a deferred MBA program?

Academically speaking, most programs accept individual applications who are in their final year of undergraduate degree/program or Masters (MS) program. The current program could be either 3years or 4 years, it doesn’t really have an effect on the say.

Basically, business schools allow early career candidates with less or no full-time work experience to apply for the program. Moreover, the competition for admission through the deferred admission process is relatively higher. Partly due to the quality of applicants and the limited number of candidates that get selected through this route.

What do Deferred MBA programs look for in Applicants?

The most critical qualities that B-schools look for in applicants are impeccable academic records, leadership qualities, communication skills, and strong analytical & quantitative abilities.

Candidates should be able to differentiate themselves in their field of interest so as to make an impression among thousands of other applicants. A candidate with no work experience on the profile can talk about other achievements such as competitions won, olympiad scores, or other personal achievements. 

Application Process

The application process for most deferred MBA programs is almost identical to the regular MBA application in terms of its components. Here are the typical application requirements of deferred MBA programs:

  • Academic transcripts (unofficial scores accepted for final year)
  • Resume
  • Essay(s)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GMAT/GRE score
  • Test of English proficiency (if applicable)
  • Admission interview (if shortlisted)

While the components are similar, it is important to note that the contents of these components are likely to be drastically varied between deferred and regular candidates.

  • Resumes would be more focused on academic projects, extra-curricular activities, internships and any other ventures pursued in college.
  • Due to the lack of work experience, the relative importance of academic capabilities is greater.
  • Where multiple letters of recommendation are required, at least one is likely to be written by an academic instructor (as opposed to both being written by managers/colleagues).

Read MBA abroad eligibility, exams, and application process.


Applying for a deferred MBA program now will allow you to not stress about it in the future. You can write your student essays, deal with the tests, and acquire your letter of recommendation while you are a student.

This program allows you to be flexible with your professional goals. Let’s say you wanted to join the program after you’ve acquired two years of work experience but now you think you have more to contribute to the work and learn from it, you can take a few more years for your work and then do an MBA full-time.

The next big advantage you have is to change your career path if you wish to. When you apply you have your seat reserved, in case you change your mind in the next five years, you can have your application withdrawn.

Applicants of traditional MBA programs have their resumes pretty full, in which case the competition there is very tight. The applicants applying to the Deferred Enrollment programs, they’re just college students who don’t have much to say on their resumes. They are admitted on the basis of their current and potential future achievements and not work experience. Along with other factors, here your narrative of the story is something that could get you admission which is totally under your control. Comparatively, you will have a lot less competition.

Last but not the least, standardized tests such as the GMAT or GRE are a crucial component of every MBA application. The biggest benefit in this regard is the comfort of studying for these tests while in college as opposed to preparing while working a full-time job. This allows students to dedicate more time to their preparation, thereby increasing the likelihood of a higher score. The 5-year validity of a score comes in handy even if you want to apply to regular programs a few years down the line.

Pros and Cons


  • Having a well-planned career without worrying about entry into MBA colleges helps you take the stress off your shoulders and help you better focus on your current work.
  • What most candidates are worried about after they get into MBA programs is the repayment of their education loans. Having more time at your hand can give you an upper hand to recover from your education debts.
  • A major advantage of being a part of the deferred MBA program is having an intelligent, well-experienced, and realistically ambitious group of peers which is beneficial for personal growth and network building. 


  • Consideration of other career options is not an option once you commit to a deferred MBA program. If you are not certain about your choices, enrolling in a deferred MBA program might not turn out to be your best decision.
  • With a lack of clarity about your specialization, employers looking for individuals with pre-MBA experience in the same field may hesitate to hire you. You may also lose out on the chance to explore other fields after your MBA program completion.

Top Deferred MBA programs in the World


Harvard Business School 2+2 program

The HBS 2+2 MBA program is one of the very popular deferred MBA programs. Candidates in their last year of undergrad studies can apply for this program after which they can spend a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 4 years working before they can join the MBA program full-time. Candidates who have completed their undergrad education are not eligible to apply for this program.

The Harvard Bussiness School prefers applicants who plan to build their way to entrepreneurship, wish to pursue a role that is technically demanding, and applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The applicants selected for the class of 2023 had GMAT scores in the range of 590-790 with the median score being 730, while the average GPA was 3.79. As the competition for Harvard deferred MBA program is high, 9% of the total applicants were selected for the year 2023.

With a deadline in April, the application fee is $100, which is waived for active-duty military applicants. 

Stanford GSB Deferred MBA program

Some industries require their potential employees to have work experience in that particular industry before their MBA. If you plan to venture into these industries then the Stanford deferred MBA program is the right way to go.

You should be a final-year undergrad student or a student of any graduate program that you’ve joined immediately after your undergrad education to be eligible for this deferred MBA program. To gain your work experience you are allowed a deferred period of 1 to 3 years, most students choose to work for 2 years and then join the full-time MBA program. You also have the choice to apply for specific fellowships as a deferred MBA applicant.

The application material is the same as a regular MBA & an application fee of $100 is required.

Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Program

Getting a chance to pursue an MBA in a city where most of the intelligent minds reside, what more could one ask for. The Columbia Business School accepts the application of students who are in their final year of either undergrad or graduation studies. 

Students are encouraged to work for 2 to 5 years after their undergrad or master’s education and then can join the MBA program when they think the time is right. When you’re ready, to begin with, the MBA program you have the option to enter Columbia’s traditional MBA program which offers the student a summer internship, or you can choose the 16 month MBA program in January which does not have an internship. As per the data of 2020 candidates with GMAT scores in the range of 640 – 790 & an average GPA range of 3.16 – 4.0 were selected.

There are no application fees for applicants of the MBA program, but after admission, students will be required to submit a $500 non-refundable deposit two weeks after admission. 

Yale Silver Scholars Program

With a different format, the Yale Silver Scholars Program offers something quite unique. In this deferred MBA program, you join the program immediately after finishing your undergraduate. Let me break it down, you can join the first year of the program immediately after completing your undergraduate studies, after which you can gain few years of work experience and then return to Yale to complete the second part of the program which lasts for 9 months.

With this format, you can start with your MBA education before you start working and when you look for a job you will be more qualified and have more on your resume to show which effectively can land you a better job.

 The application process is the same as regular enrolment candidates & only college seniors are eligible to apply.

Chicago Booth Scholars Program

The Chicago Booth Scholar program is meant for final-year undergrad students. This program allows you to apply for a full-time MBA at Chicago Booth during the final year of your undergraduate studies, and then work for a two to the four-year period after completion of your undergraduate degree.

The application deadline to apply for the Chicago Booth Scholars program is usually in April. If your application is selected, an interview will be scheduled for you in early May. The decision related to your admission will be notified to you in June 3.

Wharton Deferred MBA Advance Access Program

Wharton School introduced the deferred MBA program for Wharton undergraduates in 2017. But recently, Wharton extended this opportunity for students outside the University of Pennsylvania. This has opened a new pathway for Wharton MBA aspirants.

Other Schools in USA

  • MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission
  • Kellogg Future Leaders
  • Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access
  • Carnegie Mellon Tepper Future Business Leaders
  • Darden Future Year Scholars Program
  • Emory Goizueta MBA Early Admission
  • NYU Stern Berkley Scholars
  • University of Minnesota (Carlson) MBA in Two Program
  • University of Iowa (Tippie) Take 2 Deferred Admission Program
  • Purdue University (Krannert) MBA Deferred Admit
  • Southern Methodist University (Cox) Accelerated MBA

Top Deferred MBA Programs Outside USA (Europe, India, Canada)

University of Navarra (IESE Business School) Young Talent Path

This program is a little bit different than the American deferred MBA programs. While the deferred enrollment programs in the US are only open to students who are enrolled at the time of application, IESE’s program is also open to young professionals with some full-time experience.

As part of your application to the Young Talent Path program, you will go through a Bootcamp where your fit with IESE’s MBA program will be determined. We’ve included the student profile for this program below to help you get a better understanding of the type of students admitted into the program.

Indian School of Business (ISB) Young Leaders Program (YLP)

ISB’s YLP is one of the three ways one can get admission to its Post-Graduate Programme (PGP) in Management. The other two are Early-entry Option (EEO), for professionals who are employed and do not have a minimum of 2 years of work experience, and the regular PGP option for those who have completed 2 years of full-time work experience.

The program was introduced in 2012 and is a great fit for students across all educational backgrounds. Students who are in the pre-final year of their undergraduate or post-graduate degree programs can apply for the YLP and once admitted, they go through a mix of online learning modules and on-campus weekend sessions where they get to interact with the faculty, current students, and alumni which gives them a fair idea of the program they’d get into ~2 years later.

The YLP eventually immerses into the PGP when the students complete 20 months of full-time experience. This program works on similar lines as Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program, Booth Scholars Program, etc.

Ivey Advanced Entry Scholars MBA Program (University of Western Ontario)

The Advanced Entry Scholars MBA Program is a deferred admission program that offers a guaranteed pathway to the Ivey MBA while you pursue the necessary work experience. It is designed for students who meet the typical admission requirements for Ivey’s full-time MBA program but have not yet worked the number of years required of direct MBA program applicants.

At present, this program is open only for Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

Deferred MBA Application Deadlines 2022

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

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