MBA Pathways

Whether it’s toothpaste, eyeglasses, or laptop computers, the modern marketplace is all about consumer choice.  This has also made it to graduate schools of business.

In the old days, there was one MBA program, which was what is now the two-year full-time MBA.  The “nightschool” version of this program soon followed, to cater to those who didn’t mind taking a bit longer as long as they could keep their jobs.  Same for the executive MBA, the one-year MBA, the global MBA and the online MBA.  There has essentially been a never-ending flow of options for how to advance your business education over the years.

How you get there has also branched out.

It’s no longer just work 2-5 years and bounce out to b-school.  The early career MBA is now a bona-fide option too, allowing younger, early career achievers to get their advanced degree in some cases without any post-undergrad work experience at all.  One of the most popular options is the hybrid “pathway” model.  Harvard popularized it with their 2+2 program, then Yale followed suit with Silver Scholars and now there are dozens of programs with Pathway programs in place.

Pathway programs basically accept applications from students who are still enrolled in an undergraduate program, then select a handful to “pre-admit” to their full time MBA program.  Most often, these programs require students to graduate from college and then work at least two years in the field of their choice.  At the conclusion of the two years of full time work experience, the student can then enroll in the MBA program without any further application processing.

Why would an MBA program pre-admit students?

The biggest reason is so that they can keep their pipeline full. They figure if they are the first program to extend an offer, the chances of a student choosing to come back is high.  We all know what a pain it is to apply to b-school, so the prospect of not having to do that while you are working is appealing. 

There are no guarantees, however that the student who is accepted through an MBA Pathway program will come back to get their MBA. 

The pathway programs do not obligate applicants to return, rather it only incentivizes them to do so.  But before you get too excited about this seemingly easy option in, know that only the most highly achieving students are typically accepted this way.  Still, if you have a great GMAT score, a stellar academic record, good student involvement and a mature vision for why you want the MBA (and of course you’re still in an undergrad program), the Pathway options might be of interest.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at or contact us via