top of page

All About Deferred MBA Programs

Updated: Mar 15

Professionals from all walks of life aspire to study at a top global MBA program to gain new skills, meet extraordinary people and transform their careers. However, the competition for these programs, combined with the demands of a full-time career, can cause significant uncertainty during the application period.

But what if you were assured of a place at some of the best MBA programs in the world, before you even graduated from college? Incredible as it may sound, this is a very real possibility with the introduction of Deferred MBA admissions in recent years!

Harvard's 2+2 Program is one of the most popular and competitive Deferred MBA programs in the world

What is a Deferred MBA?

As the name suggests, a deferred MBA application allows college students to apply to an MBA program during their final year in college. After going through the process, the selected candidates are assured of a place at the school’s MBA program, normally 2-4 years from the time they graduate. The students then spend the subsequent years pursuing a career in the field of their interest, all while having the comfort and security of a top MBA admit in their hand.

...deferred MBA application allows college students to apply to an MBA program during their final year in college...

What is the process?

The application process for most deferred MBA programs is almost identical to the regular MBA application in terms of its components. In most cases this would include,

  • 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).

A Deferred MBA admit can allow you to explore your passions, without the risks.

Benefits of applying for a deferred MBA

The most obvious benefit of securing a deferred MBA admit is the assurance it provides for the early years of your career. It allows you to take risks and explore different sectors and industries, to understand what you are truly passionate about, which you can then capitalize on during the MBA program. Apart from this, going through the application process itself has some unique advantages over a regular application.

...understand what you are truly passionate about, which you can then capitalize on during the MBA program...

  1. GMAT/GRE: 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.

  2. The College Effect: For many students, their undergraduate college is a period when they dabble in many exciting ventures. From leading student bodies, to organizing parliamentary debates, to even having their own startups. Since a Deferred MBA application has a heavy focus on college years, these activities can be highlighted to showcase an applicant’s leadership potential, which is a crucial component of any MBA program. Such growth and leadership is sometimes difficult to show in the early years of one’s career which is what makes the deferred application even more appealing!

  3. Practice makes perfect: No matter how much research one may do on the topic on MBA applications, there’s no comparison to the going through the process itself. One of the benefits of applying to a deferred program is having the opportunity to have a firsthand experience of the intensity of an MBA application. Even in the case of an unsuccessful application, this experience would be invaluable if you apply for an MBA a few years later.

  4. Application fee: While this isn’t a factor many people consider, international MBA application fees can add up, especially if applying to 5 schools or more. Deferred MBA applications tend to have significantly lower application fees, which eases the burden on students.

So where can I apply?

Schools all over the world are constantly reinventing themselves, which means many of them are accepting the concept of a deferred admission process increasingly these days. Some of the most well established deferred MBA programs at the best schools in the world are listed below. You can click on the program name to learn more about them:

While there’s no doubt that deferred MBA applications are incredibly competitive, the rewards of the process and the potential admit make them an option that ambitious college graduates who want to secure a successful career must consider!


Related Posts

See All


bottom of page