Making Sense of a Deferred MBA

Making Sense of a Deferred MBA

With an aim to tap into high performing undergraduate students, many business schools have launched the option of a deferred MBA. Through this route, college seniors can get an admit to their dream MBA program during their undergraduate course and can subsequently pursue their MBA after a couple of years of work experience. Professional experience is not necessary for applying to a deferred MBA program although test scores in the form of a strong GRE / GMAT score is highly recommended for the application. 

The deferred MBA is a solid option to those final year students who have made up their mind to pursue their MBA and have a strong sense of the direction in which they want to take their professional career. It may not be best option for those who are still exploring their interests and are really not sure what they have in mind post their graduation. 

Some of the key benefit of the deferred MBA route are as follows:

  1. Headstart in your professional career: Although it is recommended that candidates have a couple of years of work experience prior to pursuing their MBA, a large of roles and industries often provide all MBA graduates with the same platform and designation to launch their careers. In this case, having an assured admit can save candidates from the arduous journey of applying to their program and then subsequently figuring out their best fit. What this does is enables some of these candidates to go for an early MBA typically post 2-4 years of work experience thus enabling them to climb the professional ladder a lot faster. Candidates who don’t have assured admits will need to go through the entire application process from start which can cause substantial delays to their plans putting their careers on a back foot.
  1. GRE / GMAT Score Factor: Taking the GMAT / GRE while one is still in college can prove to be a substantial advantage than during one’s professional life. Critical deadlines, office undercertainities, project delays, tough bosses can be major factors that can dampen your test preparation while on job specially for those in challenging industries like financial services and consulting. Thus, exploring the deferred MBA in during college life can result in better MBA program choices given the higher test score probability and extra time that can be invested in the application process. We have consistently noticed that candidates who are in their academic life tend to do better on the GRE / GMAT than those who are purusing their professional life.
  1. Early Exposure: What we have realized during our years working with clients and potential MBA aspirants is that the entire MBA application process nudges people to introspect and self evaluate themselves. This is a critical step in figuring out what your aspirations are in the long term. During the process someone who aspires to become a management consultant realizes that consulting in proabably not suited for him while as aspiring banker figures another career that maybe a better bet for him. By undergoing this process at early stage of their career, those who plan for a deferred MBA are better informed and counselled in terms of their career and personal aspirations which makes a lot more focused. 
  1. Access to school’s resources and network: A deferred MBA also enables candidates to access their various resources and alumni network during their professional stints prior to the MBA. Getting access to these resources can prove to be immensely beneficial in terms of mentorship and professional opportunities. Deferred MBA have access to all the resources a typically alumni would which can prove to be a differentiating factor in the pre MBA career journey.
  1. Opportunity to apply during your professional career as well: Applying in the deferred MBA pool also gives you the opportunity to apply to the program once again as a part of the general pool in case you are unsuccessful during this process. This will also showcase you keen interest in the school which can go a long way in helping you make the final cut and will also make you aware of the direction in which you need to shape your profile. These can be critical learnings at an early stage.

Who should apply for a deferred MBA?

While the requirements range from program to program and from school to school, some of the broad guidelines while applying for the deferred MBA program are as follows:

  • You should be in the final year of your undergraduate education – Deferred MBAs tend to have their deadlines in April for final year undergraduate students
  • You should have an inclination to pursue an MBA in your career – Its important to remember that an MBA can be a costly proposition and hence those aspiring for non management roles (e.g. academic, govt, policy etc.) best avoid this route.
  • Beneficial to have landed a job by the time you apply – Since job hunt can itself be an exhausting process, its best advised that candidates who are done with their hunt explore this route. This doesn’t discourage candidates in the midst of their job hunt from applying, but the process can get quite exhausting.
  • Solid undergrad academics and leadership – Most deferred MBA candidates would not have demonsarted their professional track record since they wont even be in the first job by the time of the application. In such cases, most top deferred MBA programs looks academics and on campus leadership as indicators of your performance.
  • Passion for management / business – This goes without saying since an MBA at the core is a degree to help you build on you management and business skills. 
  • Career Direction – Having an understanding of the direction in which you want you professional journey to head can be a useful while applying for MBA programs. This doesn’t imply that people dont change their industries and functions as their professional journey begins to take shape, but its easier to make changes and get the direction right in the initial stages of your career.

Working with a MBA Admissions consultant on your deferred MBA application journey can help you realize some hidden subtleties of the application process, the program and your profile. This can help you solidify your application enabling you to stand out from a competitive application pool.

Reach out to us at to have a conversation about your deferred MBA application.