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MBA Essay Questions

List of MBA Essay Questions from the top Business Schools in the World 

Berkeley Haas School of Business MBA Essay Questions

Berkeley HAAS School of Business MBA Essay Questions

The first step in writing a compelling admissions essay for Berkeley Haas is reading, and reading into the program’s “Defining Principles.” The second step is remaining mindful of “overlap”. Ideally, candidates should want the experiences, character traits, and underlying values presented in their essays to overlap with the HAAS culture to illustrate a fit with the school. However, we often find that applicants approach Essay 1 and Essay 2 in much the same way, resulting in one blatant accomplishment essay, (which the school is asking for in Essay 2) and one thinly veiled accomplishment for Essay 1 (which irks the hell out of admissions committee readers - not to mention the fact that it becomes a missed opportunity for illustrating the healthy self-awareness critical to any “transformative” experience. Fortunately, Berkeley Haas provides more tangible instructions for Essay 3 and even tosses the applicant a bone by asking them to compare themselves to others while waxing poetic about their career objectives. BERKELEY HAAS MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business MBA Essay Questions

If it works for HBS, it works for us!
With short and long-term goals being relegated to 700 characters (each) within the online application, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business offers up one question, no word limit, and a variety of delivery options. Given Booth’s focus on financial services and consulting, it’s no surprise they find PowerPoint a preferred vehicle for story telling.
Presentation/Essay:
Q: Chicago Booth values adventurous inquiry, diverse perspectives, and a collaborative exchange of ideas.  This is us.  Who are you? A: We are Admit Success- let’s talk
CHICAGO BOOTH ESSAY QUESTIONS

Columbia Business School MBA Essay Questions

Columbia School of Business MBA Essay Questions

Are three essay questions and one short answer sufficient to shine among one of the world’s most diversified business school applicant pools? While CBS is heavily weighted toward those with professional experiences in financial services and consulting, and undergraduate concentrations in business and social sciences, the school takes great pride in an ethnically diverse student body. Diversity also plays a key role in Columbia’s essay questions, which cover your standard Goals and Why Columbia essay (Essay 1), in addition to Why New York (Essay 2), and Why Me? (Essay 3). For the 2016-17 admission season, CBS provides even more freedom for applicants (or is it a dare?) by providing a range in word-count limits for their three essay questions. When combined and properly executed, these questions afford applicants opportunities to clearly illustrate a fit with the program, the city and their ability to add value to the Columbia Business School community - inside and out of the classroom. COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

Duke Fuqua School of Business MBA Essay Questions

FuquaBlossoms by Dave Connolley licensed under CC BY 2.0

There is no “I” in “team”. Given their essay questions and preambles, it’s only natural to assume that a prerequisite for admission to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is having spent five summers at Camp Kum-ba-ya. However, look beyond the plethora of “team”, “community” “we” and “us” mentions that appear in all Fuqua’s literature, and you realize their essay questions perfectly mirror their program’s offering -- namely, a holistic approach to management and business firmly rooted in building socially-conscious global leaders. We especially enjoy working with applicants on “25 Random Things”, as it provides them with the bandwidth to stretch their wings. And, if written in a compelling way, it is perhaps the most effective and fun way to illustrate their fit with a school. DUKE FUQUA BUSINESS SCHOOL MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

Harvard Business School MBA Essay Questions

Harvard School of Business MBA Essay Questions

“C’mon- gimme your best shot . . .” No, it's not Apollo Creed taunting Rocky Balboa, but it may as well be. This is Harvard Business School. With an endowment that exceeds $2 billion (nearly three times that of their closest business school competitor and exceeding that of most top universities in the country) and asking a single “optional” essay question, HBS has proven once again they don’t pull their punches. Neither do we. Sign-up with Admit Success for a Four-School Comprehensive Package, and work with us on Harvard School of Business’ one essay - free. HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

IESE MBA Essay Questions

Given its small class size, diversity profile and programs located across the globe, standing-out for IESE’s admissions committee can be a frightening undertaking, especially when you consider an essay prompt that requires a ”tweet.”
Essay Question 1:
“Tweet” your post MBA goals. (280-character limit) Bravo to IESE for having the “cojones”* to embrace social media as part of their application process. Given IESE’s international focus and appeal for international business school applicants, illustrating a desire to have a global impact is a must for this question, as is being specific in HOW you plan to do it. *To the 25% Female Student Body: Sorry.
Essay Question 2:
Describe a recent professional situation (1-2 years ago maximum) that demonstrates your fit with IESE’s mission and values. (300-word limit) “Situation” can mean anything as long as it helps illustrate your fit with IESE’s MBA. Talk about a failure that rocked your world and taught some valuable lessons. Write about an experience that uncovered your passions and helped define your career goals. Itching to mention the time you saved that big project? All fair game. Whatever you decide to write about, the key to success is specifically linking your “situation” to IESE, in terms of how you will add value to, and gain knowledge from their MBA program.
Essay Question 3:
I wish that the application had asked me… (200-word limit) Whatever you didn’t write about in IESE’s Essay 2 goes here. Same rules apply, although you might want to consider focusing more on personal experiences, or at least professional experiences that provide insights into you as a person- we’re talking values here.

INSEAD MBA Essay Questions

INSEAD Rotunda Bar by Raymond Chenon licensed under CC BY 2.0
INSEAD 14 by Raymond Chenon licensed under CC BY 2.0

Q: What more can be said about a business school that provides eight essay opportunities to qualify candidates as ideal fits with their MBA program? A: They don’t require that you sweat the details on your resume. In addition to providing applicants with two opportunities to talk about their to-date career progression and job responsibilities, INSEAD allows potential MBA applicants to more than scratch the surface of who they are, what makes them tick, identify areas for improvement, talk about global perspectives, and just about anything else they might be compelled to tell them. While INSEAD’s array of essay questions provides ample room to paint the portrait of an ideal candidate, it also requires that applicants pay close attention to ensuring their admissions packet remains cohesive.
INSEAD MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS 2015
Job Description 1.
Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (350 words max.)
Job Description 2.
Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. It should be written as if you were talking to someone at a social gathering detailing your career path with the rationale behind your choices. Discuss your short and long term career aspirations. (350 words max.) If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max.) Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max.) Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.) Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max.) Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (300 words max.)

Kellogg School of Management MBA Essay Questions

The New and Improved Kellogg by Jonathan Khoo licensed under CC BY 2.0
The New and Improved Kellogg by Jonathan Khoo licensed under CC BY 2.0

With a dubious reputation as being the “touchy-feely” MBA program for future marketing mavens, Kellogg’s essay questions are many things—except gentle. Two required essays focus on learning about an applicant through a previous challenge (Personal? Professional?), and the applicant’s leadership potential. Yet there is no direct prompt to address their goals or “Why Kellogg?” Both of these topics can be addressed in two separate “video essays.” Essay editing, meet interview skills training! NORTHWESTERN KELLOGG MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

London Business School MBA Essay Questions

London Business School by Matthew Black licensed under CC BY 2.0
London Business School by Matthew Black licensed under CC BY 2.0

Located in Europe’s defacto “center of business,” albeit too staid to turn their location into an essay prompt a la Columbia, London Business School’s first two essay questions provide a sufficient helping of bangers and mash while leaving plenty of room for dessert—namely the 300-word Essay 3. Essay 1 is a straightforward goals essay that affords sufficient room (500 words) for MBA candidates to connect the dots between their past experiences and their future career initiatives that will become even more realistic through an LBS MBA. As with all business school admission essays, focusing on specifics is critical to writing essays that get noticed by admissions committees and earn interviews. Therefore a thorough knowledge of LBS’s offerings and resources beyond what can be found on a website or blog is prerequisite. Additionally, their mention of “post-MBA plans” should be addressed within the context of the applicant’s full career trajectory. Increased focus can be placed on immediate post-MBA plans, but long-term goals also need to be addressed. Essay 2 is the applicant’s second opportunity to blatantly illustrate their fit with LBS, (the first being the lines that connect the dots in Essay 1) this time in 300 words. Again, being specific is critical: How will the applicant add to the LBS community through their perspectives, values, knowledge, background, and career experiences, and how does this all tie together with their future plans (read: alum community)? As with most memorable meals, dessert, in this case LBS’s Essay 3, depends on what the applicant has already served up. What do you want the admission committee to know about you that wasn’t covered in the first two essays? This could be one particular experience, or a range of experiences that provide additional insights into who you are, what you have, and hope to achieve throughout your life. Approach this essay as a shorter version of Stanford’s WMM, and you’ll put yourself on the right track. And yes, this is also where candidates can briefly explain away less than stellar test scores or undergraduate performance, but this is not an optional essay. Like any good dessert, London Business School’s Essay 3 should be refreshing and satisfying, but most important—compliment everything that came before. LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Essay Questions

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Essay Questions

For a school that has taught some incredibly outside-of-the-box thinkers who have launched some incredibly transformative businesses (Genentech, E*Trade, Zipcar), MIT Sloan goes overboard in providing concise direction in what they want to hear about from their applicants. Before applicants even think about answering MIT Sloan’s two essay questions they need to give serious thought to the impact they have had on an organization, themselves, or others. Then, they need to think about how they want to broaden that impact to a global audience through their careers, and then tie everything back to MIT. And we mean EVERYTHING. Similar to Kellogg the MIT Sloan Optional Essay is, in our opinion, not an option. And because this is MIT, applicants should STRONGLY consider flexing their creative muscles outside the confines of a traditional essay—be mindful of “fitting in.” MIT SLOAN MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

NYU Stern MBA Essay Questions

NYU Stern by Zac Shannon licensed under CC BY 2.0
NYU Stern by Zac Shannon licensed under CC BY 2.0

NYU Stern’s two essay questions provide the perfect combination of instruction and freedom for MBA applicants to illustrate their fit with the program, and have some fun. Isn’t this what business school should be about? You might think Essay 1 is a little too limited to properly address the three areas NYU Stern wants to hear about (Why an MBA now, Why Stern, and Goals) AND provide personal attributes that will give the admissions committee a warm and fuzzy feeling toward your candidacy, but this is New York. Everything is an elevator pitch. Ideally, Why Now and Goals should work in tandem to illustrate a clearly defined path that leads to a realistic (and noble) career goal -- pretty much standard fare as long as you’re mindful to connect your past and present with NYU Stern’s offerings. The WHY STERN prompt is the deal maker, or breaker. NYU Stern is well aware of how they are perceived by MBA candidates among New York’s top MBA programs: so don’t fall into the trap of writing exclusively about what “New York City” has to offer or, copy and paste your Columbia essay. To effectively answer this question you need to do your homework on NYU Stern and you need to start now. If you can’t convince the admissions committee that uptown holds no sway in your business school decision, you have not done an adequate job in answering this question. NYU Stern is by no means a safety school -- don’t treat it like one. With so many ties to Wall Street, NYU Stern could not avoid talking about the 800 pound gorilla in the room and they do so graciously in their Essay 2 Option A. Things don’t always go as planned and oftentimes this includes people’s careers. We like to think of this as a leadership/goals essay and we’ve helped candidates achieve success thinking along these same lines. The key to making this a great essay is having a plan to reach an impactful goal even though you may get knocked off course -- or change your mind. Essay 2 Option B is a self-explanatory prompt for a self-explanatory essay of 500 words. If you want to get creative make sure it’s not the same video or app you submitted to MIT. NYU STERN MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

Stanford GSB MBA Essay Questions

Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Essay Questions

As far as admissions questions, Stanford’s two essay prompts are pure poetry. With the possible exception of Harvard’s one “optional” essay—no other admissions essays provoke as much anxiety in business school candidates. Preparing for Stanford’s mythological “What Matters Most and Why” as well the shorter “Why Stanford?” should be the starting point for every business school applicant, simply because they require introspection and the ability to illustrate a fit with a program. Though Stanford no longer asks candidates to talk about career goals in their essay prompts (now part of the online application), a candidate’s goals play a major role in both Stanford essays, as does the applicant’s ability to write convincingly about how they have, and will continue to pursue—What Matters Most. STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

Tuck Dartmouth School of Business MBA Essay Questions

Tuck School of Business Dartmouth College
“Getting to know you, getting to know all about YOU . . . ”
With two 500-word essays and a required interview for all applicants, Tuck is looking to ensure they maintain the tight-knit collaborative community that keeps their MBA program a perennial favorite. If you’re applying to Tuck, you need to start here. 1. What are you short and long-term goals? Why do you need an MBA to achieve those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically? A standard goals and fit with school essay, that given the school, necessitates applicants go beyond illustrating a logical short-term career objective and impactful long-term goal to really hone in on WHY TUCK. The required interview is enough of a hint to let candidates know Tuck is serious about getting to know their future student body, and if you’re serious about Tuck, you need to let them know you feel the same way about them. Research professors, clubs, concentrations, speak with current students and alum and scream it all back to them from the northern peak of Moose Mountain. Or, make sure you do your homework on Tuck’s offerings and write how they will specifically help you attain those lofty goals. 2. Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. How will that experience contribute to the learning environment at Tuck? Not only does this question provide the opportunity to wax poetic about a team accomplishment you led, (or anything else that involved rallying the troops around your vision)—you also get the chance to illustrate how you will apply those same character traits and skills to add value at Tuck. If the leadership experience you choose involved some challenging elements (and it should), make sure to mention how you will apply the lessons learned at Tuck, and beyond. TUCK DARTMOUTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ESSAY QUESTIONS

University of Virginia, Darden MBA Essay Questions

University of Virginia by Daniel-Latorre licensed under CC BY 2.0
University of Virginia by Daniel-Latorre licensed under CC BY 2.0

Darden’s two essay questions are about as tidy as their Charlottesville campus—but looks can be deceiving. This gem of a school has methodically built a global MBA program focused on turning out responsible business leaders, and in our opinion places an above average emphasis on what is, and isn’t said, in an applicant’s admissions essays. Essay 1 appears to be a straightforward challenge/accomplishment essay, but again—looks can deceive. Maybe a challenge/failure experience would be more fitting given they are looking for lessons learned. The answer lies in the applicant’s ability to tell a story that illustrates their integrity, take risks, assume responsibility, get their hands dirty,and have an impact on the world around them --- whether their world is Heartland America or the Pacific Rim. Darden’s Essay 2 should become the standard goals essay for every business school. Its focus on the “short term” is achingly practical when considering how rapidly the world is changing, especially within the context of Asia. Essay 2 also provides a tidy framework to connect the dots between an applicants’s to-date professional and undergraduate experiences in a way that makes their short-term career objectives realistic and well thought out. DARDEN MBA ESSAY QUESTIONS

Wharton School of Business MBA Essay Questions

Creative Commons Attribution: That’s no moon it’s a business school by teofilo licensed under CC BY 2.0
That’s no moon it’s a business school by teofilo licensed under CC BY 2.0 We’re very glad to see that Wharton has done away with the one required and one optional essay of the last few years and now invites the class of 2019 to answer two "mandatory" essay prompts. Essay 1:  What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words) The is a straightforward GOALS and WHY Wharton question that provides sufficient word count for candidates to connect their career objectives, prior experiences, and how the combination of the two – in conjunction with a Wharton MBA, will help them achieve their career vision. Think of this as the “protein” in your admissions essay packet. As with any top MBA program, Wharton is seeking applicant with goals that are realistic, and impactful. Close attention needs to be paid to the “WHY Wharton” component as it provides the opportunity to not only illustrate a well-thought-out career plan, but also, the applicant’s fit with Wharton’s program, alum network, and greater U. of Penn community. While citing specific classes and/or professors is important, you need to do your homework on this one— Wharton wants to read more than what can be found on their website. Essay 2: Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words) This year’s Essay 2 provides more direction than last years optional essay, (which I never thought was optional!) but it serves the same purpose- tell us more about yourself. Examples of teamwork and collaboration should be your guide for this essay, and ideally you should think about examples that span both professional and personal experiences. Finding the balance between each will depend greatly on what you’ve already covered in Essay 1. The next step is illustrating how your collaborative character will add value at Wharton, both in and outside the classroom. Volunteer activities, unique backgrounds (professional or personal), truly global perspectives are all fair game, as long as you can pull in specific examples and them to specific areas of life at Wharton. Wharton still allows (250 words) for a truly “optional” essay, which should only be used to shed some light on an extenuating circumstance: Poor GPA, GMAT, gap in employment, etc. etc.