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The Deferred Enrollment Program at Columbia Business School

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As a college senior or graduate student, your path up until this point has likely been laid out relatively clearly for years—course schedules, weekly assignments, credit requirements, etc.  Now, with graduation finally in sight, what will be your next step?  What will you need to thrive in a global economy—not to mention, adapt to the ups and downs of one?  Deferred enrollment MBA programs offer the ideal mix of real-world experience and advanced management education to give you greater freedom in your career choice, increased salary potential and more.  For deferred enrollment, you secure your acceptance to business school now, work for a few years then join your MBA cohort when the time is right for you.

Morgan Janela, Sr. Associate Director of Admissions at CBS

Morgan Janela, Sr. Associate Director of Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS), notes, “We are living in a disruptive and, for many, a very difficult time. In time of change, there are always ways to help others, to create opportunity, and to improve lives. At its best, business has great potential to improve lives through new products, new jobs, and strong leadership. One of the great benefits of a business education is learning how to identify opportunities to change the world, and the skills and resources to lead the change.”

Columbia Business School now offers college seniors and graduate students without work experience a deferred enrollment option for their MBA program.  Qualified applicants can submit their applications—for free!—while still in school.  Then, accepted candidates work for two to five years before starting the MBA at CBS.  Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of deferred enrollment, particularly at Columbia Business School.

Why a Deferred MBA?

“Applying to a deferred enrollment program is extremely low-risk. If admitted, it can offer you a great opportunity and the flexibility to enroll when the time is right for you. Once you start your professional career, your time will be more limited. Take advantage of a slightly streamlined application process and secure admissions now,” says Janela.

Michael Robinson, a Director of MBA Admissions at CBS

Moreover, during those two to five years in the professional world, you can explore your goals and passions knowing you have an MBA in your future.  Director of Admissions at CBS, Michael Robinson, adds, “We believe that many [admitted students] will use this opportunity to take on more stretch assignments at work or pursue an entrepreneurial venture knowing that they have a Columbia MBA offer in their back pocket.”

An MBA will also help you develop general business knowledge, build your leadership skills and expand your network.  Also keep in mind the impact on your salary potential. According to research from GMAC, the median starting salary of bachelor’s degree holders is $60k. Meanwhile, Columbia reports that their 2018 MBA graduates started earning a median salary of $130k. Ninety-five percent of students receive job offers within three months of graduation—an outcome supported by 41 alumni career coaches, 65 career fellows and more.

Deferred enrollment also means that you could earn an MBA before most people even apply.  The average age of b-school students is 28—you could be graduating by the time you are 26.

Janella adds, “If anything, this crisis has shown us that the state of our economy and perhaps professional opportunities can change very rapidly, so it could be beneficial to have the flexibility to start an MBA program when the time is right for you and our Deferred Enrollment Program allows just that – the flexibility to join our MBA program after gaining between 2 and 5 years of full-time employment.”

The CBS Difference

“New York is vibrant, dynamic, global city. Being in the very center of business has a powerful impact on your experience at Columbia,” Robinson notes.  During the MBA, CBS connects with hundreds of real-world practitioners, who bring their skills and know-how to the classroom as teachers and speakers.  More than two dozen Executives in Residence mentor and counsel their MBA students.  This is unparalleled access afforded by Columbia’s New York City location.

Lindsay Matalon, Wharton UG ’19 & CBS MBA ’21

Lindsay Matalon, a Wharton undergraduate who was admitted to CBS through the Deferred Enrollment Program in 2019, remarks, “When I was considering applying to deferred enrollment MBA programs, Columbia Business School stood out to me due to its comprehensive internal resources and its close proximity to industry leaders and events. As an undergraduate with dreams to pursue a strategy-oriented career in the entertainment industry down the road, I knew that CBS’s Media and Technology Program, as well as my ability to network with professionals throughout New York City while working toward my degree, would deepen my expertise and further prepare me to recruit with film and television companies.”

The CBS program also offers immersion seminars and master classes to expose MBA students to current business issues.  The location also lends itself to internships during the school year—not just during summer breaks.  Moreover, the tenured faculty brings unique, global experience to campus.  Of the 152 faculty members, 61 percent have worked internationally.  Their adjunct faculty spans all industries, including luxury, pharma/biotech, media and more.  The on-campus community is fostered by peer advisors during orientation, and opportunities to join a selection of 90 student clubs.

Approximately 550 students comprise August entry, and another 200 join in January.  Students are divided into clusters of about 70 students, encouraging closer ties and richer connections.

Go to the next page for more about the CBS application and suggested framework for timing.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.