Top MBA Deferred Admission Programs in the US and Europe

Are you a college student who’s thinking about getting an MBA? And, did you know you could apply for your MBA right now without having to wait until you’re several years out of undergrad? 

In our other article on deferred admissions, we talked about how deferred admission programs are the ultimate opportunity for college students. Here, we talk about what some of the best deferred MBA programs have to offer, and what you can expect when applying to each of these programs as a deferred applicant. 

When doing your research, you probably wondered if the criteria are different when applying straight out of college compared to applying with 3-6 years of work experience. How do MBA programs evaluate your application when you’re just starting out in your career? Moreover, it can be hard for you to judge your eligibility and fit within an MBA program when you haven’t even begun your first full-time job! 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the top MBA programs in the US that offer deferred MBA admissions. As a bonus, we’ll also include an overview of IESE’s Young Talent Path, for those of you considering MBA programs in Europe.

Ready to begin? Then let’s get started!

1. Harvard Business School 2+2

Harvard’s deferred admissions program is much like its regular full-time MBA admissions: competitive. Only 9% of over 1,400 applicants were accepted for the class of 2023. But the kind of applicants who get admitted as part of the HBS 2+2 program are quite different from those applying to the MBA down the line.

HBS has explicitly said that they give preference to applicants who are on paths that would not typically lead to a graduate business school degree. This includes applicants who are:

  • Planning to work in an operating company (tech, manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, industrials, etc.)
  • From a lower socio-economic background (first generation in college, lower income family background, less family exposure to graduate school)
  • Going into a technically demanding role
  • Pursuing entrepreneurship

The diversity in the applicants accepted to HBS 2+2 is evident from the class profile.

HBS 2+2 Class Profile

Admissions2+2 Commits:115
Applicants (Total):1403
Admitted (%):9
DiversityWomen:43%
International:25%
Countries Represented:17
Work Experience (years)Minimum:2
Maximum:4
GPAAverage:3.79
GMATMedian:730
Range:590-790
Educational BackgroundSTEM:57%
Economics/Business:24%
Humanities/Social Sciences:19%
Undergraduate Institutions:53

Note: The data above is from the graduating class of 2023. Explore the full class profile here: Harvard 2+2 Class Profile

In addition to the preferences we listed above, HBS also has eligibility requirements that must be met when applying to the 2+2 program.

HBS 2+2 Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for Harvard Business School’s deferred admissions program, there should be a minimum of two years in between the time you graduate and the time you plan to start the MBA program— hence the 2+2! For instance, if you plan to enroll in Fall 2022 for the class of 2024, your graduation date must be between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. You can defer your enrollment for up to 4 years.

Additionally, you’re only eligible to apply for HBS 2+2 if you’re applying during the last year of your undergraduate or master’s degree program. You must not have held a full-time position before applying.

HBS 2+2 Admission Essay

The essay requirements to apply to HBS 2+2 are almost the same as those required for traditional MBA admissions, with one exception. As part of your application, you will need to indicate your pre-MBA career goals as well.

Here are the most recent essay prompts, from this year’s application cycle:

  • As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (no word limit)
  • What industries and roles are you exploring as you think about the deferral period before matriculating at HBS? (500 characters)

2. Stanford Deferred Enrollment

The Stanford Graduate School of Business deferred enrollment program also allows you to apply for your MBA while enrolled in school, with your admission deferred for 2 years in most cases.

As a deferred enrollment applicant, you can also apply to specific fellowships offered for the MBA program, such as the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship or the Knight-Hennessy Scholars. 

Applying through deferred enrollment at Stanford can be an excellent choice for those of you who already know that you would like to have your MBA degree. Before applying, make sure that you meet one of Stanford’s eligibility criteria.

Stanford Deferred Enrollment Eligibility

To be eligible for Stanford GSB’s deferred enrollment program, you must either be a senior with a graduation date for that year, e.g., with a graduation date between September 2019 and October 2020 if applying by June 2020, or you must be currently enrolled in a Master’s program that you entered straight after completing your undergraduate degree. 

Stanford Deferred Enrollment Essays

The essays required to apply to the deferred enrollment program are the same as applying to traditional MBA admissions. The prompts for this year’s application cycle can be found below.

  • More About You. Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background influenced your participation at work or school. (1150 characters)
  • Employment Information. Please write a sentence or two about what you aspire to do after graduating from Stanford GSB. (255 characters.)
  • Optional Short-Answer Question. Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (1500 characters) 
  • Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? 
  • Essay B: Why Stanford? 

3. Wharton Moelis Advance Access Program and the Wharton Advance Access Program

Wharton offers two options for deferred enrollment: one for those enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, and the other for those enrolled at other universities. 

Wharton’s Moelis Advance Access Program is open to current Penn students. If admitted into this program, you will automatically receive $10,000 yearly during your MBA. 

If you’re not a Penn student, you may apply to the Wharton Advance Access program. According to Wharton, both programs strive to admit a highly selective cohort of students. We’ve summarized the most recent class profile for the Moelis Advance Access cohort below.

Wharton Moelis Advance Access Class Profile

AdmissionsCommits:9
DiversityFemale:67%
Work Experience (years)Minimum:2
Maximum:4
GMATAverage:710
Range:680-740
GRE VerbalAverage:163.8
Range:160-167
GRE QuantAverage:163.8
Range:157-170
GPAAverage:3.66
Range:3.13-3.96
Undergraduate Academic ProgramArts & Sciences:5
Engineering & Applied Sciences:2
Dual Degree Programs:1
Penn Nursing:1
Yearly Fellowship$10,000

Note: The data above pertains to the incoming class of 2019. Explore the full class profile here: Wharton Moelis Program Class Profile

Wharton Advance Access Admissions

The application process for Wharton’s deferred admission program is slightly different than if you were applying to the full-time MBA program. Check out the webinar below, hosted by the Director of MBA Admissions.

Wharton Advance Access Eligibility

Wharton’s requirements to be eligible for the deferred MBA admissions are simple. You may apply in your senior year of undergrad, or in the final year of your master’s degree program if you enrolled in your master’s directly after your undergraduate studies.

Wharton Advance Access Essay Questions

The essays required to apply to the Advance Access program are the same as applying to traditional MBA admissions. The essay prompt from the most recent application cycle can be found below.

  • What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
  • Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere on your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)

4. Chicago Booth Scholars Program

As with the other deferred enrollment programs, the Chicago Booth Scholars program will allow you to secure your seat in a top MBA program before you even begin your first full-time job.

The Chicago Booth Scholars program allows you to defer your enrollment for two to five years. During that time before starting your MBA, your focus can be on your career as opposed to worrying about applying to an MBA program later on. For those of you who are current students or recent graduates of the University of Chicago, you may even consider opting for the accelerated Booth Scholars program, which would allow you to get your MBA in one year.

As you can see from the class profile, the students admitted into the Scholars program come from diverse backgrounds.

Chicago Booth Scholars Program Class Profile 

Admitted57
Deferment Period Years2-7
DiversityFemale:55%
International:24%
GPA Range:3.28-4.00
GMATRange:650-780

Note: The data above pertains to the incoming cohort of 2019. Explore the full class profile here: Chicago Booth Scholars Program Class Profile 

Booth Scholars Eligibility

You are eligible to apply to the Booth Scholars program if you are in your final year of your undergraduate or joint undergraduate and master’s degree program. 

Booth Scholars Essays

The essays and responses required as part of your application to the Scholars program are different from those required for the traditional MBA. The questions for deferred enrollment focus on your career intentions before starting the MBA.

Here are the current essay prompts for admission to the Booth Scholars program.

  • Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250-word minimum) 
  • Why did you choose these two recommenders? (no word limit)
  • What are your post-MBA career goals, and how will the Booth MBA help you achieve them? (250 words)*
  • What do you plan to accomplish after graduation and prior to starting your MBA? (250 words)* 

*These essay prompts differ from Booth’s traditional MBA admission essays.

5. Kellogg Future Leaders

A major benefit of applying to Kellogg’s Future Leaders program is that you can decide which MBA program you would like to enroll into right before you matriculate. Each of Kellogg’s many MBA program options will be available for you to choose from. This includes their part-time programs and their traditional full-time MBA program.

If accepted into the program, you will be able to defer your enrollment for two to five years.

Kellogg Future Leaders Eligibility

Those of you who are completing the final year of your undergraduate and graduate school degrees are eligible to apply to Kellogg’s Future Leaders program. If applying from a graduate program, you should have started your graduate degree immediately after finishing undergrad.

Kellogg Future Leaders Essays

  • Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words) 
  • Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words) 
  • Please share how you intend to spend the next several years prior to joining Kellogg. (250 words)* 
  • What drives your interest in these short- and long-term goals? (240 characters) 
  • What is your desired position after Kellogg? (150 characters)
  • What is your long-term career goal? (150 characters) 

*Essay prompt specific to Kellogg’s Future Leaders programs. 

Moreover, there are questions that are required as part of the application to the traditional MBA program that are not part of the deferred enrollment application. Keep that in mind when preparing your essays!

6. MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission

MIT Sloan’s states that their MBA Early Admission program is designed for forward-thinking and ambitious students. Which makes sense, given that you have to plan a bit ahead when applying to a deferred enrollment program.

One advantage of applying to MIT Sloan’s MBA Early Admission program is that you can defer anywhere between two to five years. With the possibility of deferring for five years, the flexibility MIT Sloan is on the higher end relative to many other schools in its league. And in fact, the program reports that students on average gain about 5 years of work experience before they begin the program. Moreover, the application fee is waived for deferred admissions.

MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission Eligibility

You are eligible to apply to the Early Admission program at MIT Sloan if you are currently enrolled in or have just graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program. In order to be eligible to apply from a graduate degree program, you should have entered the program directly after finishing undergrad.

MIT Sloan Early Admission Essays

Two crucial differences between the essays and responses required to apply to Sloan’s Early Admissions versus their traditional MBA program are the organizational structure response and the intended pre-MBA career plans. Since you will not have had any full-time work experience when applying, you are not required to provide your organizational structure as part of the application form.

Here are the essays and responses required as part of the application process for June 2020.

  • Cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. (300 words)
  • Video statement introducing yourself to your classmates. (60 seconds)
  • If you are admitted, please share how you intend to spend the next two-five years prior to joining the program. (No limit)

7. Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment

By securing your seat in an MBA in the heart of New York City, Columbia Business School’s deferred enrollment program helps you to set your future self up for success in your career.

Once admitted to the program, you can choose to defer your enrollment for two to five years. Moreover, when you’re ready to start the MBA program, you can choose to enter either in Columbia’s traditional MBA program that offers a summer internship, or you can choose to enter in Columbia’s “J-term”, which is a 16-month program without an internship.

You can use Columbia’s deferred enrollment class profile to determine whether you would be a good fit for their program.

Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Class Profile

Admitted Students:114
Schools Represented:49
GMATRange:640-790
GPARange:2.92-4.0
GeographyCountries Represented:11

Note: The data above pertains to the incoming cohort of 2019. View the full class profile here: CBS Deferred Enrollment Class Profile

Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Eligibility

Those of you who are completing the final year of your undergraduate and graduate school degrees are eligible to apply. If applying from a graduate program, you should have started your graduate degree immediately after finishing undergrad.

Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Essays

The admission essays for Columbia Business School are slightly different if you’re applying for deferred enrollment. In the most recent cycle, the following three short answer questions are posed to applicants:

  • How is a Columbia MBA going to help you? (maximum 250 words)
  • What has been your favorite class, and why? (maximum 250 words)
  • Who is a leader you admire, and why? (maximum 250 words)

8. Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access

Berkeley Haas recently launched their Accelerated Access program. This program is an excellent opportunity for current students at the University of California, Berkeley to secure their spot in their alma mater’s top MBA program. If admitted to the program, you can defer your enrollment for two to five years.

Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access Eligibility

Since the Haas Accelerated Access program is currently in its pilot phase, it is only available to Berkeley students. You are eligible to apply if you are in the final year of your undergraduate or graduate degree. If applying as a graduate student, you are only eligible if you enrolled in your graduate program immediately after undergrad and without full-time work experience.

Berkeley Haas Accelerated Access Essays

The essay questions required to apply to the Accelerated Access program are the same essays required for traditional MBA admission. These essay prompts can be found below.

  • At Berkeley Haas, we are redefining leadership. We value different opinions and perspectives, recognizing that we always have more to learn about others’ lived experiences and histories. We encourage speaking up and listening, and courageously use our power to address barriers and drive change for positive impact. Tell us how a Berkeley Haas MBA would enhance your leadership profile, incorporating specific examples. (300 words maximum) 
  • What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum) 
  • Work Experience. Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goals (150 words maximum) 

9. Yale Silver Scholars Program

The Yale Silver Scholars program has a different format from your typical deferred enrollment MBA. While usually students enroll in the first year of their MBA after gaining some full-time work experience, when admitted to the Silver Scholars program, you will actually begin your first year of the MBA immediately upon finishing undergrad. 

When you join the Silver Scholars program, you will complete your first year of the MBA before beginning your full-time position. After working for a few years, you will return to Yale as part of the program, and then finish the second portion of your MBA degree. The final part of your MBA lasts for a duration of 9 months in total.

This format will give you a unique opportunity to gain more educational experience before starting your first job. This means that the first job you get out of college might be one that is more advanced than what someone with just a bachelor’s degree might be qualified for.

While Yale does not provide a class profile for their Silver Scholars cohort, they clearly state that they are looking for applicants who have made a difference in their field, or those who stand out in their field of interest.

Yale Silver Scholars Eligibility

Only current college seniors are eligible to apply.

Yale Silver Scholars Program Essays

The essays required as part of the Yale Silver Scholars program are the same as the essays required for the traditional MBA. Below are the essay prompts for the most recent application cycle.

  • Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (upload file, 500 words maximum)
  • Post-MBA Career Interests. How did you arrive at these career interests? How have you or how will you position yourself to pursue them? (text box, 250 words maximum) 
  • Video Questions. After you pay the application fee, a link to the required video questions will appear on your status page. The three video questions require a laptop or desktop and high-speed internet connection. They will take about 20 minutes to complete. 
  • Behavioral Assessment. After you pay the application fee, a link to the behavioral assessment will appear on your status page. The assessment is a series of questions that will take about 20 minutes to complete. 

10. Darden Future Year Scholars Program

Darden’s Future Year Scholars program is another excellent opportunity to join a top business school even before you graduate. If admitted to this program, you have the option of deferring your MBA enrollment for two to four years post-graduation.

A great aspect of applying to Darden’s deferred enrollment program is that there is no fee required to apply! Moreover, when you apply, you will be considered for merit-based scholarships, with the possibility of being considered for more scholarships once you matriculate.

UVA Darden Future Years Scholars Program Eligibility

If you are enrolled in the final year of your undergraduate program, or are in the final year of your fifth year master’s, you are eligible to apply to Darden’s Future Years Scholars program.

UVA Darden Future Years Scholars Program Essays

The essays required for Darden’s Future Years Scholars Program are the same as those required for admission to the traditional MBA program. Below are the essay prompts for the most recent application cycle.

  • Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)
  • Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)
  • What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words)
  • Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (100 words)
  • What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words) 
  • Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel? (5 words) And why? (50 words) 

11. Emory Goizueta MBA Early Admission

Emory Goizueta’s Early Admission program for their MBA is open to applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds. The program welcomes both business and non-business majors to apply. If accepted, you will have the option to defer enrolling into the program for a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 years.

One perk of applying to Emory Goizueta’s deferred enrollment program is that your application fee to the program will be waived. They are also willing to consider a GMAT/GRE waiver.

Emory Goizueta MBA Early Admission Eligibility

Only current college seniors are eligible to apply.

Emory Goizueta MBA Early Admission Essays

Here are the essays required as part of the application process to Emory Goizueta’s MBA Early Admission program (which are the same as the ones required for admission to the traditional MBA program):

  • Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience, and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 word limit)
  • The business school is named for Roberto C. Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who led the organization for 16 years, extending its global reach, quadrupling consumption, building brand responsibility, and creating unprecedented shareholder wealth. Roberto Goizueta’s core values guide us in educating Principled Leaders for Global Enterprise. Provide an example of your leadership and explain what you learned about yourself through the experience. (300 word limit)
  • Within the application, you will be provided with a question to answer.  You will have 30 seconds to gather your thoughts and prepare your answer. You will then have up to 60 seconds to respond to the question. You will be permitted 3 attempts to record your video essay, however each opportunity could present a different question.

12. IESE – Young Talent Path

IESE’s Young Talent Path program is a little different than the other deferred admissions programs on this list. For one, it is based in Europe. However, the other major difference is that 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.

IESE Young Talent Path Student Profile

Admitted (students since 2009)280
Age/ExperienceAge:22.6
Work Experience (years):3 or 4
GPA ScoreTop 10%
DiversityWomen:40%
International:49%
University Backgrounds Engineering:38%
Business & Economics:28%
Sciences:17%
Political Science/Law & Humanities:17%

View details of the full Student profile here: IESE Young Talent Path

IESE Young Talent Path Eligibility

Current college seniors in the final year of completing their education or young professionals with less than two years of work experience are eligible to apply. At the time of the Young Talent Path bootcamp, you must have less than 2 years of professional experience.

IESE Young Talent Path Program Essays

Instead of the traditional essays, you will be asked to fill out a video and written assessment as part of your application to the Young Talent Path program. The application consists of 3 written and video questions.