Columbia Deferred Enrollment Program

An overview of the deferred enrollment MBA program at Columbia Business School, including eligibility info, who Columbia is looking for, application details, and more.

Posted August 21, 2023

Free Event

Applying to Top MBA Programs as a Consultant

Wednesday, April 24

11:00 PM UTC · 60 minutes

undefined's profileundefined's profile

Featuring Andy P. and Geri T.

Table of Contents

What is the Deferred Enrollment Program?

The Columbia Business School Deferred Enrollment Program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to have a guaranteed spot in a future class so they can gain professional work experience. After admission, students have a deferment period of two to five years during which they can pursue a career, explore new industries, start their own business, and find what drives them.

Watch this video from Columbia Business School about their deferred enrollment program:

Here at Leland, we provide you with the expertise and opportunity you need to succeed as an MBA applicant, and beyond.


Students who are eligible to apply for deferred enrollment are those graduating during the current academic year from a bachelor’s degree program. If you want to apply for the 2023 Deferred Enrollment Program cycle, you must graduate between September 2022 and August 2023. Also eligible are students currently completing a graduate degree program that entered immediately after their undergraduate and do not yet have full-time work experience. Students enrolled in medical school, law school, or Ph.D. programs are not eligible and must apply through the standard MBA or EMBA application process.

Free trial!

Access a library of videos, templates, and examples curated by Leland's top coaches.

undefined's profileundefined's profileundefined's profile

From 92 top coaches

Example Essays

Example Essays Image

Example Resumes

Example Resumes Image

Application Prep

Application Prep Image

Video Courses

Video Courses Image

2023-2024 Columbia MBA Requirements (Deferred Enrollment)

The following materials are required to be submitted on time in order to qualify for the application cycle:

  • Online application
  • Academic transcript
  • Standardized test scores (GMAT, Executive Assessment, or GRE)
  • Current resume (feel free to include a note on any post undergraduate job offers)
  • One letter of recommendation from a professor, mentor, internship supervisor or employer. CBS asks 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.
  • Two short answer questions
    • Why are you interested in obtaining a Columbia MBA in the future? (maximum 300 words)
    • Who is a leader you admire, and why? (maximum 300 words)

Candidates will be notified if they are invited to interview with Columbia Business School. Read: Ace Your Columbia Business School MBA Interview: Expert Tips and Sample Questions

Who Columbia is Looking For?

Columbia is looking for future leaders from a wide variety of academic and personal backgrounds. They value diversity and try to maintain the supportive community for which Columbia is known. Once admitted to the program, you are considered a member of the Columbia Community and have access to inside events, school-wise resources, conferences, and the Columbia alumni network.

How Hard is it to Get Into the Columbia Deferred Program?

The business school at Columbia is one of the most competitive and world-renowned MBA programs in the world. For the 2021 Deferred Enrollment class, there were 216 students with a GMAT range of 540-790 and a GPA range of 3.11-4.00. There were 23 countries represented and 80 undergraduate schools represented.

Like the regular, full-time MBA program, interviews are required for admission and are given by invitation only. They will be conducted by a member of the admissions committee and are available on campus and virtually. Applicants who are not offered a spot in the deferred program, are encouraged to apply again later. They are also not considered “re-applicants” in future applications.

Why Columbia?

Not only is Columbia an excellent academic institution, but it is located in New York City and in close proximity to the networking and job opportunities available in such a big city. There are more than twenty-four Executives in Residence who mentor and guide their MBA students. Furthermore, of the 152 faculty members, 61% have worked internationally at some point in their career and bring a unique global perspective to the classroom.

Read our full guide to Columbia Business School for an in-depth review of its MBA program: Columbia Business School—MBA Program and Application Overview.

Where Can I Start?

Applying to any MBA program can be a stressful, time-consuming, and costly process. That is why here at Leland we have lots of resources available to help you along that journey.

Read these articles to start your deferred MBA journey:

Browse hundreds of expert coaches

Leland coaches have helped thousands of people achieve their goals. A dedicated mentor can make all the difference.

Browse Related Articles