There are two tracks that encourage juniors and seniors in college to become MBA hopefuls, even if they don’t have much (or any) work experience. Both programs accelerate a young adult’s career and offer a solid trajectory for future professional growth.

4+1 MBA Programs

The first of these two accelerated MBA options is called a 4+1 program. This is a fast-track course of study that enables undergraduate students to get an advanced degree by accelerating their college and graduate school coursework. In a 4+1 program, an MBA is earned in tandem with an undergraduate degree. Credits do double-duty for both graduate and undergraduate requirements, so fewer classes can be taken and the MBA can be earned in a shorter period of time. For example, a class like finance would fill graduation requirements for both the bachelor’s and the MBA.

At most business schools, a 4+1 program will allow students to begin to take advanced coursework in their senior year of college, before proceeding into a fifth year as part of the school’s MBA program. There will likely be a professional practicum built into that fifth year (the first and only year in the MBA), so that students can develop real-world business skills as they would during a summer internship in a traditional full-time MBA.

By design, 4 + 1 programs will only be available at universities that feature both an undergraduate and a graduate business school. And if you are seeking out this option, be aware that programs might not go by the name 4 +1. Look for any degree schedule that allows undergraduates to proceed directly into an MBA program by what is called sub-matriculating, and complete both the bachelor’s and MBA in just five years. Admissions standards will vary by school; some programs will only require that you be accepted into the undergraduate school, some will require you to apply to a distinct sub-matriculation program, and some will require you to apply to to the MBA institution itself.

Deferred Admission MBA Programs

A second newer trend in attracting high-performing young business students is a deferred admission MBA option.

Here, students are invited to apply for admission to business school while in their junior or senior year of college. Unlike 4 + 1 programs, which have varying levels of selectivity, these deferred admission programs are usually highly competitive.

There are key differences among available deferred admission programs. In some cases, students may start directly in the MBA program upon earning their bachelor’s. In others, students are encouraged to secure employment and work for two to three years after undergraduate, during which time their future MBA program will provide some mentoring. After gaining several years of experience, these students will leave the workforce to begin full-time MBA study.

Deferred (and elite) admission programs that are open to seniors and juniors in college include:

* Yale School of Management Silver Scholars Program

The Takeaway

The business world is on the cutting edge of rapidly changing industries. As such, business education must acknowledge the changing roles and responsibilities of emerging professionals. MBA programs have a vested interest in seeking out young talent who may be able to contribute to evolving job titles in innovative ways. Increasingly, there is a recognition that one’s age or work experience is not the sole determinant of success in an MBA program.

Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.