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How to Apply Successfully to Stanford’s Deferred Enrollment MBA Program

If you’re applying to Stanford’s MBA program straight out of school, you can request deferred enrollment in order to gain work experience.

Like Harvard’s 2+2 program, Stanford’s deferred enrollment MBA program is a way of getting your foot in the door at a top B-school before you have significant work experience. To be eligible, you need to be finishing an undergrad program or a grad program with no break between grad and undergrad.

As with Harvard 2+2, Stanford deferred enrollment isn’t a separate program from the traditional MBA – it’s just an alternate route into the MBA program that gives you time to gain work experience before you show up on campus.

Stanford anticipates that most college seniors will benefit from deferred enrollment. They recommend deferred enrollment to seniors who still have questions about their career paths, who feel they need more work experience, or who want to go into industries that require pre-MBA work history.

Stanford's Deferred Enrollment MBA Program

Who Do They Want? 

Stanford looks for the same qualities in deferred enrollment candidates as all MBA candidates, with the understanding that deferred enrollment candidates don’t yet have full-time work experience. Some important things to show in your application are:

– Strong academics. Among admits to Stanford’s MBA program, the average GPA is 3.75 and the average GMAT is 733.

– Strong leadership, as shown through community involvement, internships and/or research.

– An idea of how you’re going to use the time before you begin your studies. As part of the application process, they ask about your plans following graduation.

– Both domestic and international students.

– Maturity, and an understanding of why you are applying to business school now.

Just because Stanford knows not to expect full-time work experience from deferred enrollment candidates doesn’t mean that the adcom will go easy on you if you’re still in college.

In fact, if anything the opposite is true: since you have less of a track record, you have to stand out that much more. Stanford doesn’t release a separate deferred enrollment class profile, but there’s a good chance deferred admits are consistently beating the overall class average like in Harvard 2+2.

Applying for Deferred Enrollment at Stanford

Stanford’s application process is identical whether you’re applying for deferred enrollment or direct enrollment. You just put on your application what year you want to enroll.

The deferred enrollment program at Stanford is even more integrated into the MBA program than the 2+2 program at Harvard.

While 2+2 was initially intended to provide some additional support to admitted students as they prepare for B-school, Stanford deferred enrollment is exactly the same MBA experience simply pushed forward a couple years. The program doesn’t even have its own name.

In fact, if you’re a college senior and you don’t apply for deferred enrollment, the admissions committee might give it to you anyway if they decide you’d benefit from more work experience.

Since the application process is the same for deferred or direct enrollment, you can apply in any of the three admissions rounds. However, Stanford notes that the third round “may be an excellent choice” for deferred enrollment applicants, and a round three application will capture more of your college career.

The only other difference is that a deferred enrollment application does come with one perk: a reduced application fee of $100!

Advantages of Deferred Enrollment

Applying for deferred admission at Stanford is a way of getting your B-school plans squared away now while still giving yourself room to explore before you start your MBA.

Since Stanford lets you work for 1-3 years, you have a lot of flexibility in what kind of work you do, but you also have the next 3-5 years planned out. You won’t have to worry about taking tests and applying to MBA programs after you’ve been out of school for a few years.

Plus, even though you aren’t enrolling yet, you can start putting your Stanford acceptance to work for you now. Your Stanford admission can begin opening up opportunities immediately and even help you land a job.

And finally, there’s that reduced application fee – the icing on the deferred admission cake! 

Final Thoughts

Stanford deferred enrollment and HBS 2+2 are two excellent ways to apply for an MBA right out of college while still giving yourself time to gain work experience. If this is a path you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to look at both options.

The two programs have slightly different perspectives, so getting accepted/rejected at one doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get accepted/rejected at the other.

Keep in mind that 2+2 was originally targeted at STEM majors, then at non-traditional MBA applicants in general, while Stanford deferred enrollment has always just been a different track into the MBA program. Still, you can make a unique perspective work to your advantage in either application.

Applying for deferred enrollment can be a great way of getting your B-school plans set now, and the worst case scenario is that you don’t get in and end up having to apply in a few years like you would’ve anyway!

To learn more, check out Stanford GSB’s deferred enrollment page. And to get a better sense of where you stand and whether the program’s a good fit for you, sign up for a free assessment from EXPARTUS!