What Is a Deferred MBA?

Historically, MBA application processes were only open to applicants after they accumulated a few years of professional work experience. For many, this proves to be difficult. After graduation and entering the working world, the time and energy needed to succeed in the application process becomes more scarce, the prospect of attending business school can become more distant, or, in an extreme case, uncertain events (such as COVID-19) can pose barriers toward achieving your overall goals. Deferred admissions programs allow candidates to alleviate these obstacles. 

The deferred MBA admissions process allows applicants to apply in their final year of undergraduate study. If admitted, the applicant will spend 2-5 years gaining professional work experience with the security of a full-time MBA golden ticket in their back pocket.  

As a college senior applying, you have the opportunity to apply to deferred MBA programs without having professional work experience. During the application process, you will be required to submit a GMAT or GRE score and complete the rest of the application process which is more or less the same as the traditional application. Deferred admissions deadlines tend to be in the April-June timeframe and may carry an application fee of $100-500 per program. 

Benefits of a Deferred MBA

The benefits of deferred MBAs are numerous and different applicants will be attracted to different aspects. To name a few of the benefits:

  • Zero risk shot at admission
  • Avoid the application process while working full-time
  • Guaranteed admission to a top MBA program (security!) 
  • Immediate access to network of high-achievers (as well as school alumni)
  • Scholarship opportunities
  • Larger appetite to take early career risk

One key benefit of a deferred MBA is the sense of security it offers. Rather than spending your early career experience mulling over your chances of admission to your dream school, deferred admits receive acceptance to the school of their dreams in undergrad. You won’t have to worry about having the best job or receiving promotions quickly. Plus, you get the testing and application process out of the way which will allow you to spend more time and energy on your personal and professional development and in areas/industries of the workforce where you are truly passionate about. 

A deferred MBA puts all the risk back on the school. As the admit, you secure your seat regardless of the company you go to work for. Individuals often fear taking large risks before business school, but in this instance, the school encourages you to go out, take risks, and test drive different career paths! 

For example, in your deferral period you could start a company. If you fail, your MBA spot is still yours! On the contrary, if your startup sees exponential success, you have the ability to return to school with that knowledge, or you may decide you continue growing your business and relinquish your MBA seat. You have the ability to make that decision.

Another benefit to the deferred MBA is the ability it will give you to leverage and negotiate for better positions, better firms, and better progression. If you get accepted into a prestigious deferred MBA program, you will gain immediate access to some of the most powerful networks in the world – a much more advanced timeline than candidates who apply in the traditional admissions path.

What Schools Offer a Deferred MBA?

Many of the top schools in the world offer a deferred MBA. It’s a benefit for the school in that they acquire superb talent early on. Here are some of the top business schools in the world that offer a deferred or early admission program:

A core theme for each of these deferment programs is entrepreneurship. Each program has their special sauce, but schools are doing their best to cast their net wider. Further, each of these schools has a unique program that will prove to be better suited for certain people. For instance, Harvard is focused on building the most well-rounded leaders in the world who have an emphasis in general management, while Wharton is more focused on its niche for finance professionals. Before deciding on a school, you should conduct the proper research to know which school is the best fit for you. To get started on this, reach out to us at info@earlyadmit.com.

Many of these programs are highly competitive. Without work experience, you will have to differentiate yourself through your leadership experiences, GPA, test scores, community impact, and most importantly, your ability to demonstrate your passion and how your goals align with the school of your choice. The cohesion of your narrative and how it aligns with each school has the ability to prove a big differentiator in your application process. 

Who Should Consider a Deferred MBA Program? 

A deferred MBA is a no-risk option and therefore a great opportunity for anyone who is still in the process of achieving their undergraduate degree and desires an MBA in the future. EarlyAdmit holds the belief that all interested students should apply, regardless of any hesitation or imposter syndrome they may feel.  

If you’re interested in applying to a deferred MBA but don’t know where to start, check out our Deferred MBA Strategy Guide! We offer comprehensive guidance on the application as a whole, specific strategies to use, interview preparation, test scores, and much more. This guide will put you well on your way to a strong application.

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