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MBA Deferred Admissions Programs – Should I apply?

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

Every year, we get lots of questions about MBA Deferred Admissions Programs. Usually, these questions come shortly before applications are due because people have just heard about the programs. We are looking to address this timing challenge and to answer questions about these programs. After all, this is a different path, an early opportunity to gain access to some of the most elite business schools in the world. It’s an incredibly competitive process that takes time to navigate when people are already busy during their senior year of college. So, should you take the time to apply? To answer that question, you need to establish your goal(s) for applying. Are you looking for an easier path to admission? Setting yourself up for longer-run success? Take the pressure off your post-college work experience? The answers to those questions may pull you in different directions. How does Deferred Admissions work?

Deferred admissions applications for MBA programs are submitted during senior year of college. This differs from other deferred admissions programs (e.g. law school) that happen earlier in the college process. Does that mean that you should wait until senior year to think about applying? Definitely not!

If you even think that you’re interested in deferred admissions to MBA programs, you can begin to consider the path early on in your time in college. The admissions process requires recommendations (usually two) and you can begin to develop relationships to support this effort early. By senior summer, you’ll want to have a better idea of where you’re applying, have taken the standardized tests, and thought about your story.

Does everyone start an application before senior year? Again, definitely not! If you haven’t been thinking about deferred admissions and you’re just starting to think about the path in senior year, you can certainly prepare a great application. It simply means that you’re going to work through multiple parts of the process at once.

Which schools offer deferred admissions programs?

Almost a dozen leading US business schools offer deferred admissions, including Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and many others. Please see more details here.

What are the specific benefits of Deferred Admissions? There are a number of benefits from the deferred admissions process, including the ability to plan, giving you the confidence to take risks early in your career (with a great backup option), flexible start dates (for some programs), excellent post-college support, and applications experience that will be invaluable should you decide to apply full-time. Read more about the benefits here.

When might you decide to take a different approach? Many of our clients often start the MBA application process thinking a particular school is best for them, and in working with us later discover other schools that are better fits (I.e., culture, industry-focus, geography). Making an early commitment can limit your future options. You might wait to apply if you want more time to explore and try new things. You might also want to wait if you had a slow start in college. There are limited slots in deferred admissions programs and if your GPA is well below the average, it could be difficult to overcome. Read more about the reasons to wait here.

Interested in learning more? We have included a comprehensive summary here of programs that offer deferred admissions programs. Please contact us to set up some time to discuss whether this would be a good fit for your short-term and longer-term goals. We’ve guided many successful applicants through this process, and are happy to get you started in a way that saves you time and stress in the future!

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