MBA programs strive to be diverse, choosing candidates from a variety of backgrounds to enrich their experiential learning environment. Classes thrive on case studies, and students bring in their past experiences, mixing them with new lessons. Most MBA programs, across the globe, hence, desire an applicant pool with some years of work experience.
Average MBA class profiles hover around the age group of 27 years which clearly indicates a preference for at least 4-5 years of post-Baccalaureate work experience (Read Average age for MBA in India and abroad).
So, what chance, does a college undergraduate student determined to get a business management training, have, to get an admission into an MBA program such as the ones described above? Well, there are a few ways to get around the snag of having no previous job after college.
You might find programs that do accept freshly minted graduates who are work experience virgins. B-schools like Olin GSB (Babson College), McDonough (Georgetown), Marshall (USC), Cornell (Johnson), and more, are known to lay down the mat for zero order employment history as indicated in our article on Top MBA in USA without work experience. Their reasons, though not specified, have some relation to not letting well-deserving candidates slip through a rigid work requirement criteria.
While the above exceptions are often observed, what is important to note is the presence of a whole other category of Admission Section, belonging to a few b-schools, which caters specifically to no-work-experience fresh graduates – the Deferred Enrolment MBA option.
What is a Deferred MBA Program?
Deferred MBA provides assured deferred enrollment to its inexperienced MBA admits, upon completion of a full-time employment, usually stipulated for two years.
For instance, Harvard Business School’s 2+2 deferred MBA program renders its selects a period of 2 years to gather gainful work experience before joining the 2-year full-time MBA program. And it is only open to candidates who are college seniors about to graduate, or post-graduates (only MS) who have never had a full-time job.
In some sense, it is akin to the pursuit of an early career MBA like the generally accepted trend in India where students join MBA right after college (Read Early Career MBA: Is it for you?).
The difference, however, in deferred MBA programs, is that the pre-admission happens right after college while the classes begin only after the student has gained the required work-experience. Whereas in an early-career-MBA program, like the Yale Silver Scholars Program, enrollment is not deferred. Candidates, in the Silver Scholars Program, get an admission right after college and they get enrolled the same year (Read Yale Silver Scholars Review).
What are the Pros and Cons of a Deferred MBA Program?
What would you gain, or lose, by getting into a deferred MBA program? And, how does a deferred MBA program work in the interest of the b-school? Let’s explore.
Advantages of a Deferred MBA Program
- The program offers college seniors the option of starting early in the MBA game. It combines the goodness of a reputed international MBA, which ordinarily seeks experienced candidates, with early career MBA.
- Students don’t have to wait too long before commencing on a high-flying career post-MBA. If a student, stays on track, he may receive lucrative job offers by his mid-20s.
- The company of other more experienced classmates could serve as a means to grow a highly beneficial network, replete with knowledge, otherwise unavailable to individuals interested in following a career in business management.
- Candidates, selected in deferred MBA programs, have the luxury of the peace of mind of a well-planned career path, not bestowed on their contemporaries who don’t have an assured entry into a reputed MBA program.
- They, by virtue of their youth, are risk-takers. There are fewer personal commitments and they are aptly placed to take on the high intensity MBA training and face challenges with vigor. Their age also makes them more responsive to new ideas.
- Starting early also means getting a head-start on those hefty MBA loan repayments weighing most candidates down. Thus, there is more time to recover from education debts and get on with life, so to speak.
- Students, in their college years, are better suited to prepare for the time-intensive MBA applications, including GMAT prep and essays. Candidates pursuing a regular MBA usually have to juggle between professional demands with very little flexibility, and MBA application preparation.
- These deferred MBA programs allow b-schools to capture top candidates before either of the scenarios play out – candidates get into an MS after their undergrad, follow the conventional job-MBA path and end up with a different b-school later, or decide against an MBA due to various professional, or personal, obligations.
Disadvantages of a Deferred MBA Program
- The commitment, of the program, leaves little room for considering other career paths. What if the candidate wants to pursue higher education in a Master’s or PhD instead? What if the candidate’s interests peak in academia? What if he is content with his job experience and wants his profile to expand on-the-job?
- MBA candidates, with more than the two years of full-time employment, are usually better placed to handle the high costs of education. The two deferred years towards enrollment may hardly serve as a sound financial back-up.
- The commitment itself is binding such that the candidate may not be able to pursue a different business program, even if he realizes a better match elsewhere. If the candidate chooses to break out and apply elsewhere, hemay most likely lose the deposits or fees associated with the deferred programs.
- The onus of finding an institute-approved full-time job is entirely on the candidate. The b-school provides no help in securing the job required in the interim deferred period.
- The candidate may find himself struggling to keep up with the pace shared with the other more experienced, knowledge endowed, classmates. Given the peer-learning mode in MBA, this may become a snag factor. Read about the problems an under-prepared student can face in an elite MBA classroom
- It is often unfair to keep the companies, employing a deferred MBA candidate, in the dark about the abandonment plan upon enrollment. And if the company does know the plans, their acceptance of the oncoming desertion is a highly subjective matter. If the bosses know, and there is a downsizing event in the near future, these candidates might be at risk.
- Some employers, catering to certain MBA specializations, may require a pre-MBA experience in the same field. Without clarity on the choice of specialization, prior to any work or MBA experience, it may be difficult to make such a decision, thus losing out on post-MBA careers in those fields.
What kind of candidates are Deferred MBA Programs looking for?
As far as eligibility is concerned, most programs allow applications from only those candidates who are in their final year of undergraduate studies. It doesn’t really matter whether the undergraduate program itself is for 3 or 4 years.
Candidates from joint bachelor/graduate degree programs or graduate degree candidates who have never had a full-time job, are also eligible. In short, they are looking for candidates without any full-time work experience and without any advanced degree like PhD.
In terms of accomplishments, candidates need to have an exemplary academic record, strong analytical and quantitative abilities, demonstrated leadership qualities, accomplishments that highlight their outstanding nature, a strong sense of collaboration, ethics, and an overall impressive profile to justify their selection over the thousands of applications received.
The competition is hard, as is evident in the 11% acceptance rate in the Harvard 2+2 class of 2019.
Top Deferred MBA Programs in the World
Top Deferred MBA Programs in USA
|Harvard Business School
|2 years + 1 year on request
|– Final year undergraduates. Post graduates with no work experience and entered directly after undergrad. Joint Bachelor/Graduate degree candidates. No PhD, Law or medical
– Valid GMAT/GRE with AWA and IR
– TOEFL/IELTS/PTE for international non-English educated candidates
– Same application material as regular MBA
– Application Fee $250
|Up to 4 years
|– Enrolled full-time prior to graduation. Current full-time law or medical student. Combined undergrad/grad program candidates. Direct transits from undergrad to grad.
– Candidates select the preferred year to enroll. School makes final decision.
– Same application material as regular MBA
– Application Fee $100
|Booth Scholars Program
|2-5 year deferment
|– Open only to 4th year undergraduates at University of Chicago with quality experience in internships/part-time jobs, entrepreneurial venture.
– Good academic record and GMAT/GRE
– Leadership, intellectual curiosity, learning initiative.
– Same application material as regular MBA
– No Application Fee
|Columbia Business School
|Deferred Enrollment Program
|– Open to undergraduate students.
– Academic background, any work experience or internships, engagement in activities outside the classroom
|Early Admission Program
|– Graduating or have graduated from an undergraduate degree program during the current academic year
– Graduating from or currently attending a graduate degree program they entered immediately upon completing their undergraduate degree without full-time work experience
|Future Year Scholars Program
|– Final year of graduation
|University of Minnesota Carlson
|MBA in Two
|– Good academic record, internship, collaborative, and leadership experience for US domestic undergraduate seniors
– Same application material as regular MBA like GMAT, etc
Also read about this student’s admission experience – Wharton Deferred MBA and Team Based Discussion Tips, Prompts – open for undergrads and Master’s students at University of Pennsylvania.
Top Deferred MBA Program in Europe
|University of Navarra IESE
|Young Talent Path (YTP)
|– College seniors (preferably with a job offer) or professionals with up to 2 years work experience apply online
– Upon interview selection, candidates attend an MBA Boot Camp
– After securing a pre-admission, candidates attend YTP weekend, get GMAT preparation assistance, complete a 3-4 year work experience and finally join the regular MBA class
Top Deferred MBA Program in India
|Indian School of Business
|Young Leaders Program (YLP)
|Up to 24 months of full-time work experience
|– Selection from fresh graduates. Selects undergo weekend sessions spread over 6 months. They get guidance from experts. They interact with peers. All while completing work experience
– Good academic record, GMAT, essays, etc.
There is also the Early Entry Option at ISB for recent graduates with less than 2 years of work experience
These are clearly not exhaustive and there are more b-schools joining the deferred enrollment bandwagon each year. Though, one needs to make a distinction between a Deferred MBA Program and MBA Deferrals. The latter only considers requests for an admission deferral on a case by case basis.
Not all b-schools prescribe to the option of admission deferrals and the idea is not based on the presence or absence of work-experience. Our article on All about MBA Admission Deferrals has more details and program names that seem to entertain such requests.
MBA Crystal Ball has experienced admission consultants who can help you get into the top deferred MBA programs. Send us an email if you need some professional support to improve your odds: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com
Good luck researching your chances of making into the pre-admit selection of such a privileged section of candidates. And while you are hard at work building your profile, here are some additional links on the subject.