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Wharton Deferred MBA and Team Based Discussion Tips, Prompts

Wharton Deferred MBA

Many have been asking us to publish a post on the Wharton Deferred MBA (i.e. Moelis Advance Access Program).

If you’re not aware of it, here’s a quick snapshot and some statistics.

Wharton Deferred MBA Statistics: Average GMAT, GPA, experience, class profile

Till a while back, the program was exclusively for University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) undergrads but has now been expanded for anyone in their final year of, both undergraduate or full-time master’s.

It provides a deferred admit to the Wharton MBA, after 2-4 years of professional experience. Consider it as a passport to corporate superstardom. A lot of regular MBA programs have been opening up this deferred MBA route.

The application deadline tends to coincide with the last round of the regular MBA (give or take) though the process of application is identical for the two options.

The 2020 cohort had 173 successful commits to the program and had a whopping 741 GMAT average (against the MBA cohort average of 732). The average GPA too stood at a hefty 3.79 (against the regular average of 3.6). This makes the acceptance rate for the Wharton deferred MBA tougher than the regular intake.

Finally, the cohort has a slightly better gender balance at 53% female participants compared to the regular cohort at 46%.

Wharton deferred MBA admit, Shreemoyee Mukhopadhyay (pictured above), volunteered to share her application experience. She also provides some tips on how to prepare for the Wharton deferred MBA application as well as the team-based discussion.

Wharton Deferred MBA | Moelis Advance Access Program

Wharton Team Based Discussion Tips

by Shreemoyee Mukhopadhyay

I graduated from University of Mumbai where I studied financial markets and completed three levels of CFA alongside my coursework.

During college, I was always involved in multiple extra-curricular activities and devoted a bulk of my time conceptualising and organizing events for the clubs I had started.

In these years, my sole purpose was to pursue each of my interests whole-heartedly, without thinking of how it would look on my resume.

Analysing the “why” behind these life choices helped me understand myself better and as a result I put together a strong MBA application.

Why deferred MBA?

Given my interests in finance, entrepreneurship and leadership I found the MBA to be exactly what I needed to excel in these avenues.

I would regularly check websites of top MBA schools for articles and updates and that’s when I discovered the deferred MBA.

I saw how this program allows one to secure a seat in a top MBA program and join after gaining 2-4 years of work experience. In this period candidates are encouraged to take career risks and focus on personal growth.

For me, this program fit in perfectly with my long term career goals and I decided to give it a shot.

I did a LOT of research to understand what type of candidates the B schools are looking for, what their backgrounds are like, what are each schools main offerings, what the culture is like etc.

MBA Crystal Ball proved to be really helpful. I was constantly in touch with Manish Gupta (MG) who guided me.

My main research was through talking to alums, attending school specific webinars and interacting with AdComs.

The main application strategy was to find out schools I most connected with and I spent maximum time on writing and perfecting those specific MBA essays. All the research I put in for the school came in handy as those reflected in my essays as well.

Advice on how to research schools

  • Thoroughly go through the schools website to get a sense of the clubs, courses etc you’re interested in. Find out the alums in those clubs, courses and connect with them through LinkedIn or email.
  • Bonus points if they have a similar background as you. So either same college, or same undergrad major, same pre-MBA industry can help strike a connect and allow them to help you better. Ask direct and clear questions such as what their post MBA plans are and how has the school helped them achieve that (ask about clubs, electives, special offerings that you’re interested in etc).
  • If they’re in the club you’re interested in ask them how you can contribute to it.
  • Ask them what their favourite social activities are, what are their favourite thing about the school is etc. The more specific the better.
  • Some colleges have ‘Admissions Fellows’, connect with them if you can, they usually have the best advice.
  • Attend webinars with AdComs
  • Maintain a log for all the information you collect and keep updating it.

This process gives a clarity on how each school can help you achieve your career goals and what specific resources will propel you forward. You’ll also get a clear sense of the school culture and what they’re best known for.

For example, MIT is focused on innovation and hands-on-learning, Wharton focuses a lot on team based activities and leadership, Columbia prides itself on hosting world class industry leaders, being situated in the heart of NYC.

For me, I learnt that Wharton was the ideal fit, given its collaborative culture and strong focus on personal leadership development.

Wharton Team Based Discussion – How it works

The Wharton interview process is composed of two parts: A 35 minute team based discussion, followed by a 10-minute one-on-one interview.

Usually this process happens in person, but due to COVID, our interviews were conducted on Zoom.

For the 35 minute discussion, we were given a topic for which we had to prepare a one-minute pitch consisting of our ideas and thoughts on the topic.

This topic is given much in advance, so you will have many days to prepare. The goal of the TBD is to come up with a plan or agenda according to the topic at hand.

We were asked to login 10 mins before the discussion started so as to interact with other candidates. We used this time to learn each other’s names, backgrounds and post MBA plans.

The TBD then started with the moderator (usually an AdCom or alum) who introduced themselves and read out some rules.

There were 6 of us, and we were told to formally introduce ourselves. Then the moderator set the clock, and we started the TBD.

Each of us completed our one minute pitches, and during this time most of us made notes of points brought up by each member.

After this the team agreed to follow a structure for ease of discussion and one member assumed the role of a time keeper.

We proceeded from one point to another after considering each members ideas mentioned in the one minute pitch.

It went pretty smoothly and towards the end we had 5 minutes left during which we presented our proposal to the moderator.


Wharton Team Based Discussion Prompts

Here’s a sample list of the Wharton Team Based Discussion prompts from earlier years.

  • Create a 4-day intensive, full-credit Global Modular Course (GMC) to provide immersive learning opportunities to attendees.
  • Create a 1-day program to promote the inauguration of Tangen Hall, Wharton’s on-campus space to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.


Tips to prepare for the Wharton Team Based Discussion

  • Research the topic for the discussion thoroughly
  • Jot down ideas that are unique and try to address most parts of the topic
  • Rehearse the 1 min pitch thoroughly to make sure it doesn’t extend the time limit.
  • The TBD isn’t meant to be competitive. It is to see how well you perform in a team. So try and appreciate other candidates’ ideas, don’t talk over them, try to summarize and move the conversation forward. Your ideas are not the central focus here, so listen closely to others’ ideas and try to combine them with yours if possible.
  • Play the roles you’d usually play in a team setting.


The one-on-one Interview

We were asked to log out of the Zoom and join back in 20-30 min according to our scheduled time. The 10 minute interview was less an interview and more of a conversation.

It was very relaxed as in this short time itself, 5 mins was given for me to ask questions about the school.

Closing thoughts

Getting into Wharton has been a long-time dream and seeing the acceptance letter I felt overjoyed!

This entire process – from school selection to essay writing was a highly introspective process for me.

Although it was stressful given the short time that I applied in, I enjoyed gaining a deep understanding of my past choices and where I want to be in the future.

What helped me set myself apart in this highly competitive process was being able to clearly show who am I as a person, what my values are and what is important to me.
To future applicants

  • Start preparing as early as possible. The research and MBA essay writing process is more time consuming than you can expect.
  • Introspect: I can’t emphasize this enough. Maintain a journal of stories, experiences and incidents that show who YOU are as a person. Bring those out in your essays. Bonus points if your personality traits match the schools overall traits.
  • Don’t try to see other people’s application materials, it will cloud your judgement and thought process
  • Try to make your application holistic and cohesive. Your resume, recommendation letters and essays combined should represent you, and should have a story. Each part can highlight different aspects of your life. So strategize this well and think of the big picture you’re presenting to AdComs.
  • Overthinking and underestimating yourself will only throw you into a spiral. Go with the flow and be proud of yourself for putting your best effort. The rest will follow!

Good luck!

Need some personalised assistance with your Wharton deferred MBA application or the interview / TBD, send us an email: info at mbacrystalball dot com

Also read:
How I got into Wharton with scholarship
16 things every Wharton MBA student should know
Life at Wharton MBA as an international student
Are deferred MBA programs worth it?

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

2 thoughts on “Wharton Deferred MBA and Team Based Discussion Tips, Prompts”

  1. Hello Manish
    This is Sandesh Gupta
    A student of University of Delhi’s Ramajs Collage (B.A. H Hindi)

    I’m preparing for Stanford GSB Deferred program which is made for college’s senior student with zero years of work experience.

    Could you help me such as consultant….
    Then it can be much easier for me go to in Stanford GSB.

    Thank you


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