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Deferred Enrollment

Stanford GSB builds an MBA class with diverse educational and professional backgrounds. If you are in the final stages of your educational program, we encourage you to consider applying to the MBA Program.

Direct Versus Deferred Enrollment

Criteria for Deferred Enrollment

To be considered for deferred enrollment, you must be a full-time student graduating from your educational program this academic year (October 2016 through September 2017), or a full-time law or medical student. In addition, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are enrolled in an undergraduate degree program.
  • You are enrolled in a combined undergraduate/graduate program, in which you are pursuing your bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.
  • You are enrolled in a graduate program, which you entered directly from an undergraduate program. If you took off an academic year or more between the two programs (to work full-time or do something else), you do not qualify for deferred enrollment.

Requesting Direct or Deferred Enrollment

If you meet the criteria for deferred enrollment, you may apply either to attend business school immediately following your university program (direct enrollment), or to work one to three years before attending business school (deferred enrollment).

In your Stanford MBA application, you will select the year in which you would prefer to enroll. Note that, even if you request direct enrollment, we may grant you deferred enrollment if we feel you would better contribute, grow, and learn after gaining full-time work experience. We may also offer deferral for a different year than you request.

If you request, and are qualified for, deferred enrollment, you will pay a reduced application fee of $100.

By accepting a place in the Stanford MBA Program, you agree not to apply to, commit to, or matriculate in another academic program.

Choosing Between Direct and Deferred Enrollment

Choose direct enrollment if you feel ready to pursue your MBA because of your current academic background, extracurricular experiences, impact through internships and work experiences, and personal aspirations. Note that for most college seniors, deferred enrollment is a better choice.

Choose deferred enrollment if you feel you would benefit from obtaining full-time work experience before enrolling. This is a good choice if you are unsure of your long-term professional path, and would like to explore an industry before earning your MBA.

Additionally, certain industries — private equity and biotechnology in particular — tend to recruit only MBA candidates with pre-MBA experience in that field, or with specialized knowledge. Management consulting firms also typically prefer MBA candidates with work experience. Deferring enrollment for a couple of years may be a wise decision if you wish to work in one of these industries.

If you choose to defer enrollment, we expect you to work full-time during the deferral period. Pursue opportunities that enable you to build expertise, enhance your skills and knowledge, expand your perspective, and develop professional judgment and self-confidence. We ask you in the application what your plans are for the period between graduation and your enrollment at Stanford.

Which Application Round?

We offer three application rounds; apply in the round that makes the most sense for you. We encourage applicants for direct enrollment to apply in the first or second round. If you are applying for deferred enrollment, however, the third round may be an excellent choice.

Advice for College Seniors

Recommended Courses

  • Quantitative courses — such as calculus, microeconomics, or statistics — to strengthen your mathematical exposure
  • An accounting course to understand the language of business
  • Logic courses — such as computer programming, philosophy, or physics — to refine your analytical capabilities
  • Writing-intensive courses — such as comparative literature, expository writing, or poetry — to improve your rhetorical skills

Explore Industries and Careers

  • Read The Economist, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal to understand the business environment and learn about industries, careers, and organizations.
  • Explore professional pursuits through challenging internships. Cultivate strong relationships with supervisors and mentors, and seek out opportunities to learn new skills and acquire knowledge.
  • Investigate different careers to refine your goals. Sites like WetFeet offer a wealth of information about organizations and professional fields. Talk to friends or relatives who work in your field of interest.
  • Even if you intend to enroll in an MBA program directly after graduation, participate in your college’s recruiting process to learn about careers, organizations, and industries. It’s smart to have options.

Other Advice

  • Take the GMAT or GRE in your junior year or early in your senior year.
  • Pursue opportunities for independent research, such as lab work, seminars, and theses.
  • Become fluent in at least one language beyond your native one.
Last Updated 6 Jun 2016