Deferred Enrollment

Secure your spot in a future MBA class now. Believe in yourself. We believe in you.

Our deferred enrollment program provides a path for eligible candidates to apply now, take one to four years to gain professional experience, and then embark on their MBA journey.

Lexi Henkel MBA ’23

Lexi Henkel MBA ’23

Hear from Lexi Henkel, MBA’23, and her experience in the deferred enrollment program. Learn about her journey to Stanford GSB, introduction to deferred enrollment, and plans for the future.
Jessica Landzberg, MBA ’23

Jessica Landzberg, MBA ’23

Hear from Jessica Landzberg, MBA ’23, and her experience in the deferred enrollment program. Learn about her journey to Stanford GSB, introduction to deferred enrollment, and plans for the future.

Key Benefits

Deferred enrollment is designed for students without full-time work experience to:

  • Pursue opportunities that enable you to build expertise, enhance your skills and knowledge, expand your perspective, and develop professional judgment and self-confidence.
  • Explore an industry (or two) before earning your MBA if you are unsure about your long-term professional path, especially if you are a college senior.
  • Prepare for certain industries — private equity, biotechnology, and management consulting, in particular — which tend to recruit MBA candidates who have pre-MBA work experience or specialized knowledge in that field.

Ellen Liu, MBA'19

“Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, either in your career or another part of your life. Try a new industry or function or city or country.” — Ellen Liu, MBA ’19

Karl Skare, MBA ’13

“Use that two-year [deferral] period to try something different that might seem a little bit risky.”

Pulkit Agarwal, MBA ’20

“The deferral is like extending your Stanford time. As soon as you are a deferred admit, you are essentially a Stanford student.”

Who Should Apply

If you are interested in having a positive impact, we are interested in you. We are looking for students from all studies and majors, including STEM, humanities, and business. Students at Stanford GSB come from diverse personal, educational, and professional backgrounds.


What We Look For

We seek the most promising students in terms of our three evaluation criteria. We realize that our applicants are at different points in their professional journeys, and we will evaluate your accomplishments within the context of your experiences.

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


Circled number 1

You are a college senior.

You are in your final year of a bachelor’s degree or a joint bachelor/graduate program, and your degree will be conferred between October 1, 2024, and September 30, 2025.

Circled number 2

You are in a graduate program.

  • You began a master’s degree, PhD, law, or medical degree in the academic year immediately following an undergraduate or undergraduate/graduate program.
  • You did not work full time (other than internships or co-ops) before starting the graduate program.
  • Your degree will be conferred between October 1, 2024, and September 30, 2025.

Graduate students should apply in the final year of their graduate program.

How It Works

There is one MBA application and no separate application for deferred enrollment. We offer three application rounds and defer-eligible candidates may apply in any round — you should apply in the round that makes the most sense for you.


Start Your MBA Application

Your journey begins here.


Select Your Preferred Enrollment Year

You may request up to three years of deferral when you apply. Based on our assessment of your application, we may offer a deferral for a different amount of time than you request.


Share Your Deferral Plans

Tell us how you will be productively engaged in full-time work or study during your deferral period.


Provide Your Recommendations

Include two letters of recommendation from recommenders who have supervised your extracurricular activities or work, such as internships or part-time jobs.


Submit Your Application and Pay Your Application Fee

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


Accept Your Offer

If admitted for deferred enrollment you will pay an initial $1,000 deposit by the reply deadline to secure your seat in a future class. A final $1,000 deposit is due the year you matriculate. Both deposits are applied to your first tuition statement at Stanford GSB.

During the Deferral

Launch Your Career

We expect you to be productively engaged (such as in full-time work or full-time study) during the deferral period. One of the benefits of deferring enrollment is your opportunity to explore a career (or two!) of your choice before attending Stanford GSB. When considering jobs, look for opportunities that will introduce you to the world of management and offer you broad exposure to a field of interest. Above all, pursue opportunities that align with your values and will be personally meaningful to you.

Get to Know the GSB

Attend virtual and in-person events designed for deferred students; connect with fellow deferred students via a Slack channel; receive invitations to select conferences and alumni events and network with current students and alumni.

Keep us Posted

At the time of admission you will be granted an initial deferral period. Each year of your deferral we will ask you to share employment updates and confirm your intent to enroll. No additional deposit is required until the year you matriculate. You may apply to extend your deferral up to a maximum of four years. Not sure when to begin the MBA? We provide dedicated support to our deferred students including one-on-one advising calls where we will discuss your career goals and help you determine the best time to take the next steps on your MBA journey.

Special Considerations for Deferred Applicants

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.”

David Liu
MBA 2024

“Deferred enrollment allows you to explore your passions, take risks, and grow both personally and professionally. I used this time to build relationships with fellow deferred admits, current students, and alumni, and leveraged their experiences to shape my own Stanford journey. The deferral period becomes an important part of your MBA experience, and you can use it to enrich your time at the GSB and beyond.”

MBA 2020

“The deferral period could truly be game-changing for you. Make sure that you explore your different interests, take risks that you otherwise wouldn't normally take in your career and start building your network of GSB students and alums. The years before you begin at the GSB provide some of the most formative years of self-reflection and introspection. Start to figure out what you want out of your GSB experience, what skills and interests you want to develop and how you're going to make sure that you achieve your goals.”

Still Have Questions?

We offer many opportunities to engage with current students, alumni, and the MBA Admissions team. If you are thinking about applying, we invite you to either attend a general admissions event, or search for an event tailored to “deferred enrollment” candidates.

Deferred Enrollment at Stanford GSB

Deferred Enrollment at Stanford GSB

Learn more about deferred enrollment from an admissions officer as well as a panel of students and alumni.