The 411 on Deferred MBA Admissions
Are you a college senior who is thinking about attending a top business school in the future? Then today’s post is for you! A growing number of business schools have created programs that target younger applicants through deferred MBA admissions. Read on to learn more about this exciting alternative route to b-school.
- What are deferred MBA admissions programs?
- What do deferred MBA programs look for in applicants?
- How we approach deferred MBA admissions
- Why our clients apply via deferred MBA admissions
- Should I apply now or wait for the regular process in 2-4 years?
- Deferred MBA admissions programs options
What are deferred MBA admissions programs?
Deferred programs are for college students who haven’t held a full-time job upon application submission. The most common model for deferred MBA admissions programs is to apply as a college senior (undergrad or grad), gain an admit, and then work for two to four years before starting the program.
Throughout the deferral period, MBA program admits can access valuable networks and engage career resources within the university. Without a doubt, the most coveted deferred MBA admissions program for SBC clients is the HBS 2+2 Program.
With this model, successful admits work for two years upon college graduation, and then attend HBS for two years–hence the program name, “2+2.” Note that HBS can approve a third year of deferral if the candidate is working on something reasonable—not laying on a beach in Bali!
What do deferred MBA programs look for in applicants?
Our SBC team includes many deferred MBA program experts. In fact, it includes the former HBS Associate Director of MBA Admissions who helped launch the 2+2 Program.
“The main impetus for starting HBS 2+2 was to attract students who would never apply to b-school,” she explains. “They are looking for all the same qualities and credentials as they do for the regular pool. But, then they are also looking for scientists, engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs, to name a few. HBS really hoped they would find young people who saw the deferred admission as an opportunity to take a risk and do something a little bit off the beaten path.”
Successful deferred admissions applications require a compelling and differentiated story.
Our successful college senior applicants are those who have shown leadership and made a noteworthy impact in some way. Also, they are often outside of the typical or traditional MBA candidate profile. For example, we worked with an HBS 2+2 applicant who graduated college early to take an internship working on the heroin epidemic in Washington D.C.
In addition, deferred MBA admissions admits usually have clear career plans and already know how a business education will aid their aspirations. They don’t need to be 100% married to a job or industry, of course. But they do understand what community they want to serve or problems they want to tackle in the short term.
Deferred admissions admits think of the MBA program as a way to build and test hypotheses and access vital networks to move them forward along an already-defined path. A solid framework on where the MBA falls along with the master plan is important for success as a deferred admissions candidate.
But it’s not a program for everyone.
On the other hand, there are some for whom deferred admissions may not be the right plan. MBA applicants who have a tougher time with admit success at the college senior level are the “explorers,” or those who still want to try different things, such as taking a few years at a broad-based employment path, to assess if the MBA is right.
How we approach deferred MBA admissions
Throughout the application, we need to demonstrate to the MBA admissions committee why they should accept this candidate two to five years ahead of the regular applicant pool. HBS 2+2 typically has only 100 admits available, with about 60 male and 40 female spots. Although, keep in mind that AdCom adjusts the odds further according to industry plan or career path.
Career goal positioning within the application is an important success factor for our college senior clients, who will become the next generation of future global leaders.
The bar is higher for the deferred MBA admissions programs, and we work relentlessly with our clients to reach that threshold.
Why our clients apply via deferred MBA admissions
Our college senior admits tell us that they have great job opportunities in the two years leading up to their MBA program because of their early MBA admission. An admit to a top deferred admissions program also allows the young professional to pursue a different level of risk in the job market since the MBA admit is already locked down.
One can take unconventional career choices—such as opting to work at a start-up over consulting because of the desire for growth, excitement, and impact. As one successful client for Stanford’s deferred MBA admissions program shared:
“The great thing about deferred MBA programs is that you get access to an amazing network of the most interesting, smart people you’ll ever meet years before you even start your MBA. So, connecting with these people early on has enabled me to jump start that self-reflection process by learning from others. That’s a huge benefit of the deferred programs that I think isn’t talked about enough.”
A deferred admissions admit enjoys being part of the MBA community for more years than a traditional MBA admit. These individuals have about four years from admission to graduation to explore the business school experience in depth.
MBA programs often offer check-ins with deferred admissions admits such as in November of each year. At that time, the admit can let the MBA program know when he or she expects to matriculate. Plus, they have the same access to scholarship opportunities because of this check-in process.
Hear from our successful deferred MBA admissions clients.
A recent HBS 2+2 admit and a client of SBC wrote in to say:
“Being a 2+2 admit means you are a part of the larger 2+2 community, which includes both current admits (for multiple years, since admits can defer for 2-4 years) and past 2+2 alumni. One of the first admit events HBS hosted was a panel with previous 2+2 students, and we had the opportunity to hear their stories and ask them questions directly. You are also invited to other quarterly events such as networking events and mock cases that are exclusive to 2+2ers.”
A recent HBS 2+2 admit, who worked comprehensively with SBC, discussed the benefits of the application process this way:
“…definitely don’t NOT apply because you feel like you’re not qualified enough. I can’t believe that I could have missed out on getting admitted to HBS 2+2, had I let my initial self-doubts get the best of me. One thing that helped give me an extra boost of confidence to apply was telling myself that even just the application process itself was a tremendous growth opportunity – a chance to reflect and figure out what my future goals are. And it truly was an awesome experience – I feel like a different, more self-aware person now than before I applied, and in the end, it worked out well!”
There are many upsides to applying as a college senior. First, you have more flexibility with time to schedule test prep and application work. Many seniors are coursework-light when graduation nears and their academic prowess is ripe and strong. Second, some deferred admissions MBA programs offer perks to college senior applicants. These include things such as waiving the application fee and more leniency with recommendation letters (teacher, advisor, coach etc).
Top Deferred MBA Admissions Programs
|Deferred matriculation?||Minimum years of work deferral||Maximum years of work deferral||Deadline||Year of inception*|
|Harvard 2+2 Program||Yes||2||4||April 28, 2022||2008|
|Wharton Deferred Admission Program||Yes||2||4||April 27, 2022||2019|
|Stanford GSB Deferred Enrollment||Both deferred and direct matriculation options||Flexible||Flexible||April 12, 2022||2010|
|MIT Sloan Deferred Admission for College Students||Yes||2||5||April 12, 2022||2019|
|Chicago Booth Scholars Program||Yes||2||4||April 7, 2022||2019|
|Chicago Business Fellows Program||Direct, Part-Time MBA||0||3||April 1, 2022||2018|
|Darden Future Year Scholars Program||Yes||2||4||April 12, 2022||2016|
|Yale Silver Scholars Program||No||0||0||April 12, 2022||2004|
|CBS Deferred Enrollment Program||Yes||2||5||Rolling until April 15, 2022||2018|
Timing is Everything
This HBS 2+2 admit also sees that the deferred MBA application timing can be optimal over the regular application cycle:
“The good news is, AdCom understands that you are a college student and they don’t expect you to have the same level of accomplishments as someone who’s been out of college for a couple of years. In the regular rounds, the applicants might have had a bit more of a blank canvas to start out with and a greater variety of experiences that they can talk about, but that also means the standard is higher. “
We also hear that there’s a peace of mind in securing admission early. As one client shared:
“One of my personal tenets in life is “frontloading is key”, so securing early admission to a program was right up my alley (so I don’t have to worry about admissions once later on).”
Should I apply now or wait for the regular process in 2-4 years?
It’s important to assess the tradeoff of applying as a college senior versus waiting until the regular application round. The deferred MBA admissions route isn’t a side door or easier route into MBA programs. A quality application effort takes a lot of time and diligence as well as application fees.
An admit offer comes with the expectation that the applicant will pay the deposit to hold the deferred admit spot. A true intention of following through on that acceptance and matriculating in two years is essential. Apply only if you are sure you will accept, pay the deposit, and matriculate in a few years.
What if I don’t get in?
We are often asked if MBA programs will consider the applicant to be a ‘reapplicant’ if they were dinged from the MBA program at the college senior level, two to four years earlier. Should you apply a few years into your career, the admissions committee typically won’t view you as a ‘reapplicant’ and your college senior submission won’t be considered. Accordingly, there’s no downside to trying to apply as a college senior.
We have counseled many clients about the tradeoffs of applying based on their specific career paths. We often see scenarios where it’s actually more favorable to apply as a college senior because the client’s admit odds are better now.
In other words, the applicant will get admitted to a higher-ranked or better brand MBA program than if that applicant waited two to four years. Of course, this scenario is nuanced and shaped by career direction, demographics, and other attributes.
Let’s make sure your deferred MBA admissions plan is effective and optimized. Contact us for an initial free evaluation here.
Visit the HBS 2+2 Program overview here. Check out our How to Get into HBS 2+2 overview here. Read an interview with a successful Stanford GSB deferred MBA admissions client here. An interview with a successful HBS 2+2 deferred MBA admissions client is here. Finally, you can find additional college senior tips by SBC here.