Emory Adds Deferred MBA Admit Program For College Seniors

Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is joining the growing group of business schools adding a deferred admissions policy to its MBA program. Beginning this spring, for the first time, college seniors will be able to apply for MBA early admission to the school’s three MBA options, it’s one-year MBA, two-year MBA and evening MBA programs.

Similar to other deferred admissions programs at Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, accepted candidates would be given a deferred admission to Goizueta so that they may gain two to five years of work experience before enrolling in the MBA program. Candidates admitted through the MBA Early Admission program will get annual consultations with Goizueta’s admission officials  to discuss professional growth and the appropriate timing of MBA studies, as well as support from the school’s Career Management Center.

As overall applications to full-time MBA programs have decline for what will be six consecutive years, more schools have been adding deferred programs to capture college seniors who might otherwise go to law or med school or pursue other graduate options. In January, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business launched its deferred admit program. A month later, Kellogg School of Management put its program in place. Harvard’s 2+2, a forerunner of the trend, was initially an effort to get business school in the consideration set of bright high-potential undergraduate students. In more recent years, it has become more of an effort to attract STEM undergrads to business school, with 65% of 2+2 students having an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering or math.


Melissa Rapp, associate director of MBA admissions at Goizueta Business School

Melissa Rapp, associate director of MBA admissions at Goizueta Business School

Most business schools are using deferred programs, along with STEM certification and increased scholarship dollars, to either slow or reverse application declines. Last year, Goizueta received 1,022 applications for its two-year MBA program, admitted 450, for an acceptance rate of 44%, and enrolled a class of 147 students. A 24.2% decline in applications from 1,348 a year earlier pushed the school’s acceptance to 44% from 37%.

Melissa Rapp, who joined Goizueta as associate dean of MBA admissions last May after more than six years in admissions at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, says the school’s announcement is an effort to provide applicants more flexibility. “When I arrived here, this was something I wanted to tackle because Emory has such a rich and diverse undergraduate population,” she told Poets&Quants in an interview. “We have had this program for our BBA students but it was just a little under the table and not something we broadly broadcasted.”

While Goizueta will accept deferred applications from undergrads who are not enrolled at Emory University, the school initially plans to promote the option more heavily with Emory’s undergraduate population. “This is just one more way that we are being of service to our undergraduate population,” says Rapp. “We wanted to remove many barriers and start the conversation with them earlier. We are allowing students outside of Emory to apply, but we aren’t going to market it in an aggressive way to those students. We are open to seeing their applications.”


Rapp could not predict how many applicants Goizueta might get as a result of the new program, noting that she considers the first go-round as a pilot year. “We are open to seeing what the results will be,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for high achieving undergraduates. I don’t anticipate it being a large number (of admits in the first year). We are small by design and have intimate relationships with our students. We want to make sure we have the bandwidth to provide those who are admitted under the program with a high level of service.”

While Rapp expects most accepted candidates would join an MBA program after two to five years of work experience, she doesn’t want to impose any strict limits on that requirement. “We are trying to provide some flexibility,” she says. “There is no hard and fast rule on work experience. An early admission candidate will involve an annual meeting with the admissions team to talk about how their career is progressing and if this is the right time for their MBA education to begin. We will also have intersecting points with our career management center. We know they will come to an intersection in their career where an MBA may make sense. This is a way of guaranteeing that they have a spot at a school.”

The deadline for applying for MBA early admission this year is April 15, 2020.


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