Securing a place on an Ivy League MBA program used to mean accruing several years of work experience. After all, one learns as much from the peers as they do the professors on MBAs.
A new trend has changed all that. Several of the elite US schools now admit people to their prestigious MBA programs fresh from their undergraduate degrees. Some students go immediately into the MBA; others work for a few years. Those programs that allow admit students after a few years in the field are often referred to as “deferred admission” MBA programs.
There are seriously good benefits to this path. For one, knowing you have a spot on an MBA can free your hand to take more risks in your career during the deferral period—working for a startup or nonprofit firm, for example. The schemes also accelerate career progression since you will compete for the same high-level jobs on graduation from the MBA as everyone else.
Several schemes also offer generous scholarships for students once they start the MBA, plus career development programs during the deferral period.
Yale SOM was a pioneer of recruiting fresh college graduates. It’s Silver Scholars scheme launched back in 2001. Final year undergraduate students apply to be Silver Scholars, then do the first year of the MBA on campus immediately after graduation. That follows internships for a year or longer, before students come back to Yale to finish off the MBA. That means they essentially bypass the entry-level jobs they would otherwise take after undergrad. There are few more innovative ways to accelerate your career development.View School Profile
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania created a deferred admissions MBA scheme in 2017 through a $10m donation. Candidates on the Moelis Advance Access Program join the prestigious Wharton MBA after finishing their undergraduate degree and working for up to four years. Being admitted can free their hand to try non-traditional jobs during the deferral period, like entrepreneurship or nonprofits. Another perk is the $10,000 scholarship that Moelis fellows are eligible for when they matriculate onto the MBA.View School Profile
Harvard Business School created its 2+2 program a decade ago. Students spend between two and four years in the workforce in a deferral period before starting Harvard’s esteemed MBA. One key feature of the 2+2 is that it enrols a more diverse pool of students, with a higher proportion of STEM candidates in particular than Harvard’s general MBA pool. Cross-disciplinary learning is key to the success of classroom group projects, and employers value this diversity too.View School Profile
MIT Sloan School of Management has recently established a deferred MBA admissions pathway for college seniors to enter its leading MBA program. Undergraduates or recent graduates from any university can apply for a place, as can graduate students without full-time work experience. Current MIT students with high GPAs do not need to take the GMAT, which is dreaded among many applicants.View School Profile
Stanford Graduate School of Business in California encourages MBA applicants with no work experience to apply for deferred enrolment, giving them one to three years to work with a guaranteed spot on Stanford’s super elite MBA program. Some students also go direct from undergraduate to the Stanford MBA.View School Profile
Darden School of Business, at the University of Virginia, runs a Future Years Scholars Program. Applicants apply during their final year of undergraduate. They begin the Darden MBA in Charlottesville after gaining two, three or four years of work experience. Admitted students have access to exclusive networking events and engage with the Darden community through alumni mentoring and individual career support.View School Profile
Chicago Booth School of Business runs the Chicago Booth Scholars program for students with three or fewer years of full-time post-undergraduate work experience. The deferral period is two to four years. The cohort is highly diverse with 56 percent of the 43 Booth Scholars being female and 26 per cent coming from overseas.View School Profile
Columbia Business School in New York City runs a deferred enrolment program for undergraduate and some graduate students who apply during the final year of their course. They then work for two to five years before entering the workforce and starting the top-ranked MBA program at Columbia. Students can opt for a 20 month version of Columbia’s MBA that includes a summer internship, which can help with securing a full-time job, or a breezier 16 month version that reduces the opportunity cost of not being in work.View School Profile
NYU Stern of New York City has a program that targets undergraduates called Berkeley Scholars. It’s a highly selective program for several undergraduates who get a full ride scholarship and a stipend for living expenses to boot. Berkeley Scholars start their MBA immediately after graduation. The scheme is only available for Stern’s niche MBAs in fashion and luxury, and the technology-focused MBA.View School Profile
The Carlson School of management in Minnesota runs the “MBA in Two” deferred admissions program for undergraduate seniors who are US citizens. They apply in their senior year before working for two years, then matriculate into the top-ranked Carlson full-time MBA. Given their lack of work experience, college seniors need to demonstrate leadership, collaborative capabilities, and strong academic scores to get onto this competitive program.View School Profile