The Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to gain a few years of work experience with a guarantee of admission to Columbia's highly selective MBA program, and the flexibility to begin the full-time program two to five years after college graduation.
Columbia is looking for future leaders from all academic and personal backgrounds to maintain the diverse and supportive community for which Columbia is known.
Apply to Columbia Business School
Apply during your senior year in college or during a subsequent graduate program. When reviewing your application, the admissions committee will look at your academic background, any work experience or internships that you have, and your engagement in activities outside the classroom. Click here for additional FAQs regarding the Deferred Enrollment Program.
Gain Work Experience
After completing your current studies and before starting your MBA at Columbia Business School, enter the workforce for two, three, four, or five years. Use the time to explore what drives you, knowing that you have the flexibility to start the MBA program when the time is right for you.
As an admitted student you are part of the Columbia Community, and will have select access to conferences, events, and School-wide resources to enhance your academic experience and to help you throughout your career.
Start Your MBA
When you are ready to start the MBA program, send us a letter of intent, specifying whether you want to enroll in January (16-month program) or August (traditional 20-month program featuring a summer internship.) You will have the option to choose the program that fits your personal and professional goals.
Fellowships and Scholarships
Once you send your letter of intent to start the MBA program, you will be considered for merit-based fellowships and be able to apply for need-based scholarships. Find more information on fellowships and scholarships.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please see a link to our FAQ page for commonly asked questions about the Deferred Enrollment Program.
Who is eligible for the Deferred Enrollment Program
- Students graduating during the current academic year from a bachelor's degree program. (Example: Those who graduate between September 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 are eligible to apply for the 2024 Deferred Enrollment Program admissions cycle)
- Students completing a graduate degree program. Candidates must have started the graduate degree program directly after completing their undergraduate degree to be eligible for the Deferred Enrollment Program.
- Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs, law school, or medical school are not eligible. Please apply through the standard MBA or EMBA application process.
- Online application
- Academic transcript
- Current resume (feel free to include a note on any post undergraduate job offers)
- Standardized test scores (GMAT*, Executive Assessment, or GRE)
- All applicants must submit a self-reported valid GMAT*, Executive Assessment, or GRE score when submitting an application. Please note that additional test scores cannot be added to an application after that application has been submitted.
- The Admissions Committee will consider only your highest score when reviewing your application and will not combine subscores from multiple exams into a single composite score.
- One letter of recommendation from a professor, mentor, internship supervisor or employer. We ask recommenders to consider the following when writing their recommendation (recommended limit - 1000 words):
- Please share how you feel the applicant will contribute to the Columbia Business School classroom and community.
- Short answer question:
- What is your immediate post-graduation professional goal (50 characters maximum)
- Two essay questions:
- Applying to a deferred enrollment program suggests that your aspirations in the next 2-5 years will include an MBA. Why do you feel you need an MBA to achieve your long-term career goals and why would you like to pursue your MBA at Columbia Business School? (300 words)
- Contributing to the community is an important part of the CBS experience. Discuss one experience or situation in your undergraduate or graduate career where you feel you contributed to your community and what you learned from the experience. (250 words)
*We accept both GMAT Exam and GMAT Focus Edition scores.
Candidates will be notified if they are invited to interview with Columbia Business School.
Fees and Deposits
- There is no application fee for students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or eligible graduate-level program.
- Once admitted, students will be required to submit a $500 non-refundable deposit by 11:59 pm EDT on August 1, 2024.
- Subsequent deferral continuation fees will be due each year that you defer.
- The year that you decide to matriculate you will also be required to verify your work experience during the deferral period and submit deposits for your entry-point.
- The Deferred Enrollment application will open in November 2023 and will close on April 15, 2024 at 11:59 PM EDT.
- Completed applications will begin the review process after April 15, 2024
- Interview invitations will be sent on or before May 15, 2024
- Final decisions will be released on a rolling basis and within two weeks of your interview being conducted. A $500 deposit is due by 11:59 pm EDT on August 1, 2024.
2023 Deferred Enrollment Class Profile
|Number of Schools Represented
|Number of Countries Represented
Contact us to learn more about the Deferred Enrollment Program.
Email: [email protected]
The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 presented institutions of higher education with challenges in teaching and learning, as well as in the assessment of academic performance. As a consequence of these challenges, Columbia University affirms the following principle:
The University’s graduate and professional schools, as well as their respective admissions committees, will take into account the important disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak when reviewing student transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their customary practice of performing holistic reviews of individual applications or dossiers. Specifically, we will respect decisions made by institutions or individuals regarding the adoption of Pass/Fail or similar grading options during the period in question.
The Provost and University Deans adopted this principle to ensure that no applicants are disadvantaged by policy decisions made by their colleges/universities as a result of this unprecedented public health event.