Deferred Enrollment

Stanford GSB builds an MBA class with diverse educational and professional backgrounds. Deferred enrollment is designed for students without full-time work experience.

Criteria for Deferred Enrollment

You are eligible for deferred enrollment if you meet one of the following criteria:

You are in your final year of a bachelor degree or a joint bachelor/graduate program, and your degree will be conferred between 01 October 2020 and 30 September 2021.

You are currently enrolled in a graduate program, which you began immediately following an undergraduate or undergraduate/graduate program.

Direct vs. 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 the better choice.

Choose deferred enrollment if you feel you would benefit from full-time work experience before starting the MBA program. 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 MBA candidates with pre-MBA experience in that field, or with specialized knowledge. Management consulting firms also typically prefer MBA candidates with prior work experience. Deferring enrollment for a couple of years may be a wise decision if you wish to pursue one of these industries.

If you choose to defer enrollment, we expect you to be productively engaged (such as in full-time work or full-time study) 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 will ask you in the application what your plans are for the period between graduation and your enrollment at Stanford.

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 before attending business school (deferred enrollment). In most cases, we offer a two-year deferral.

In your Stanford MBA application, you will select the year in which you 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. Based on our assessment of your application, we may offer a deferral for a different amount of time than you request.

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

Applying for a Fellowship and Deferred Enrollment

If you are applying for deferred admission (for example, if you are a college senior) and would like to apply for a specific fellowship, such as Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship or Knight-Hennessy Scholars, you must apply for those fellowships the year prior to your enrollment at Stanford GSB.

If you meet the eligibility for deferred enrollment and hope to begin at Stanford GSB in the following year, you may apply for the fellowship at this time. However, if you do defer your enrollment or we admit you for a different year, your essay and application for any fellowship will not carry over. You will be required to apply again for the fellowship in the year prior to your enrollment.

Applying to Joint/Dual Degrees and Deferred Enrollment

If you are applying for deferred admission and wish to pursue a joint or dual degree, some programs recommend applying in the year prior to your enrollment in the MBA program, while others allow you to apply during your first year at the GSB. Also, some joint/dual degree programs offer flexibility for where you initially enroll. Learn more about joint and dual degree study requirements and timelines.

Choosing Your 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 Round 1 or Round 2. If you are applying for deferred enrollment, however, Round 3 may be an excellent choice.

Choosing Your Recommenders

If you are currently a full-time student, we encourage you to select recommenders who have supervised your extra-curricular activities or work, such as internships or part-time jobs.

Choosing Your Email Address

If you currently are a full-time student, use your personal email address, not your university email, for your application. This ensures that if you are admitted and deferred, you will continue to receive important information during your deferral period.

Deferred Enrollment at Stanford GSB
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Deferred Enrollment at Stanford GSB
Learn more about deferred enrollment from an Admissions Officer as well as a panel of students and alumni.
Student Spotlight
MBA 2021

As a deferred admit, even though you haven’t yet arrived on campus, you’re already part of the Stanford community. Take advantage of that! Reach out to alumni and current students during your deferral period—learn about their experiences and passions, and use those learnings to refine your own goals. Optimize for learning during your time before Stanford; when you arrive on campus, you’ll have a better idea of how to shape your own Stanford experience and set yourself up for your goals.

Student Spotlight
MBA 2020

Deferred admission is a great way to extend your MBA experience. During this period, I became friends with many of the other deferred admits, had access to a Stanford email address to reach out to people with, and attended several Stanford events with current GSB students. Through this network, my startup began to pull in revenue and I [later] landed a new job that doubled my salary. The pre-MBA years were as impactful as the program itself; I had a positive ROI from my GSB MBA before I even matriculated!