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Essay Questions for MBA Programs That Start In 2020

Important Note! On rare occasions, schools change essay topics after they have been published.
In addition, we may inadvertently make a mistake in copying content.
In such cases, it may be that the information presented here is not accurate!
It is essential that you visit the school website to be 100% certain about the exact essay topics.

Please note that for re-applicants, the essay topics are often different from those below.

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Essay Questions by School

Chicago Booth & You

  • What is your immediate post-MBA career goal? [text box, 250 characters]
  • What is your long-term post-MBA career goal? [text box, 250 characters]
  • How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (text box, 250-word minimum)

Academics

  • Awards and Honors – Please list any collegiate academic or athletic awards or honors you have received. [text box]

Employment

For each employer –

  • Job Description (700 characters)
  • Reason for Leaving (50 words maximum)

Professional Awards

  • Please list any significant professional awards/recognition that you have received. [text box]

Recommendations

  • Why did you choose these two recommenders? [text box]

Activities

  • Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (text box, 250-word minimum)
  • For each activity – Description of Participation (text box, 500 characters)

Additional Information

Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? If so, please use this section to clarify. [text box, 300 words max]

Re-applicant Question:

Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 word maximum)

Response Guidelines:

  • Length: There is no maximum length, only a 250 word minimum. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.
  • Acceptable Formats: Submissions must be entered into the text box provided in the application.

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Essay 1:

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2:

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

Essay 3:

Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words)

Optional Essay:

Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

Knight-Bagehot Fellows:

Rather than answer Essay 1, current Knight-Bagehot Fellows applying to Columbia Business School should use the space allocated to the first essay (500 words) to complete the Wiegers Fellowship application essay.

Wiegers Fellowship Essay Question:

What are your career goals? How has the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship affected these goals? How will an MBA help you achieve these goals? (500 words maximum)

Deferred Enrollment Program:

Deferred Enrollment candidates will answer three short essay questions instead of the essays listed above.

Question 1: 
How is a Columbia MBA going to help you? (250 words maximum)

Question 2: 
What has been your favorite class, and why? (250 words maximum)

Question 3: 
Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words maximum)

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ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION:

Employment

  • Please provide an explanation for any gaps in your employment history [textbox, 1000 characters]
  • For each employer:
    • Duties/Responsibilities: [textbox]
    • Reason for leaving [textbox, 50 words max]

Extracurricular Activities

  • Please list other activities or interests that you regularly engage in: [textbox]

Tell us your story

Short answer questions:

1. The Darden School of Business is a thriving community of MBA students, faculty and alumni from a diverse array of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Because of the highly participatory nature of the MBA program — both inside and outside of the classroom — Darden actively recruits and fosters a vibrant MBA community. Below are a series of questions to allow you the opportunity to share the many dimensions of you. Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (text box, 200 words)

2. Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Read University of Virginia’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community, or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (text box, 200 words)

More about you

Short Answer Questions:

1. Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (text box, 100 words)

2. What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (text box, 150 words)

3. The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. Each year, Darden connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel? (5 words) And why? (50 words)

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Where did you study?

  • Non-Degree Coursework (Optional) – With regard to academic preparedness, we evaluate your undergraduate performance along with standardized test scores. We will also consider additional coursework that you are prepared for Darden. Please share examples that highlight your academic and quantitative preparedness. [text box, 150 words]

College Extracurriculars and Employment

  • List your extracurricular activities while in college including any offices held and awards received. Include dates of participation and list them in order of importance to you. If you were employed while in college, include employer, job responsibilities, hours worked per week and dates for each position held. [text box, 200 words]

What do you do for fun?

  • There are a variety of organizations and clubs at Darden that help shape our community and the Darden experience overall. In this section, we’d like to learn about your unique interests, talents and passions. Please list the professional associations and community activities (clubs, faith-based, civic, etc.) in which you have participated since graduation from university. If you graduated from university more than 10 years ago, please simply list your activities for the last 5 years, making sure to include:
    • Activity Type
    • Organization name
    • Your role
    • Dates of participation
    • Description of your involvement
  • List up to three hobbies or interests you enjoy in your free time.

Explore Charlottesville

  • Darden community members love our city. Watch the video to learn why we love Charlottesville! What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words)

Scholarship Information

Darden offers numerous merit-based scholarship to aspiring MBA students – many made possible through the generosity of alumni and friends of the School. Students who are offered admission to the Darden School are automatically considered for a merit-based scholarship. The majority of our scholarships do not require an additional application. There are a few scholarships for which we need additional information and/or require an additional essay. Please review our website for a complete listing of all scholarship offerings. Please answer the questions below if applicable. Of note, the Jefferson Fellowship is coordinated separately by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation.

Batten Scholars Program

All candidates for the Batten Scholars Program are expected to exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit, strong leadership skills and a drive for innovation, as well as recognizable background characteristics and goals that satisfy the desired purposes of the Batten Institute. For clarity, we designate three categories of Batten Scholars, which embrace particular aspects of entrepreneurship and innovation. Please visit the Darden website for details.

To apply, please select the scholarship for which you are applying and answer the questions below.

Please answer the following in the text box below.

  1. How do you meet the criteria of the Batten Scholars Program, consistent with the priorities of the Batten Institute?
  2. How you will contribute to the Darden community?
  3. How would this award and Darden further your career ambitions in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology?

Additional Information

If there is further information you believe would be helpful to the Admission Committee, please provide it: [text box, 250 words]

There is one question for the Class of 2022:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

Joint program applicants for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School must provide an additional essay:

How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level? (400 words)

This is your chance to tell us why you think Kellogg is the right place for you. As you get started, remind yourself of the experiences that led you here and how they have shaped where you want to go.

*Please note: Be sure to include the essay prompt in bold at the top of your essay. If you’re uploading a document, please use 12-point Times New Roman font, 1.5 line spacing and 1-inch margins.

Essay 1

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

[upload document Or, type or copy-and-paste your answer in text box]

Essay 2

Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

[upload document Or, type or copy-and-paste your answer in text box]

Additional Information

If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.).

[upload document Or, type or copy-and-paste your answer in text box]

Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:

1Y applicants: Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal. (250 words)

JD-MBA applicants: Please discuss your post-JD-MBA career goals and why the JD-MBA Program is the right program to help you reach those goals. (250 words)

MMM applicants: The five core values of the MMM Program are curiosity, creativity, empathy, open-mindedness and a learning mindset. Describe a situation in which you demonstrated one of these values. Why is this value an important part of the MMM experience for you? (250 words)

Reapplicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words)

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Professional Experience

Career Goals

  • What has been your most significant career accomplishment? [text box, 240 characters]
  • What is your desired position after Kellogg? [text box, 150 characters]
  • What is your long-term career goal? [text box, 150 characters]
  • What drives your interest in these short- and long-term goals? [text box, 240 characters]

Higher Education

Jobs or Work-Study Programs

If you held a paid part-time job or work-study position during your undergraduate studies, please list the average number of hours a week spent working. Internships and summer positions should not be included here.

  • Brief description of employment: [text box, 200 characters]

Awards, Certifications and Recognition

  • Description (100 Character Limit)

Extracurricular Activities

  • Activity – Description of Participation (100 character limit)
  • International Experience – Purpose (100 character limit)

SHORT ANSWERS (CHOOSE ONE FROM EACH GROUP; 100 WORDS EACH)

Group 1

  • I want people to know that I:
  • I made a difference when I:

Group 2

  • I am out of my comfort zone when:
  • I was humbled when:

Group 3

  • I was aware that I was different when:​
  • I was challenged when: (changed from “I find it challenging when people:”)

We encourage you to share personal examples in these short answers to allow us to learn more about who you are as a person.

CAREER GOAL ESSAY

  • Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this career goal right for you? (300 words)

We request that you write two personal essays. In each essay, we want to hear your genuine voice. Think carefully about your values, passions, aims, and dreams. There is no “right answer” to these questions—the best answer is the one that is truest for you.

Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.

Length

Both essays combined may not exceed 1,150 words. We recommend up to 750 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. We often find effective essays written in far fewer words.

Formatting

  • Double-spaced
  • Number all pages
  • Upload one document that includes both essays

Be sure to save a copy of your essays, and preview the uploaded document to ensure that the formatting is preserved.

Optional Short-Answer Question

The two required essays shed light on who you are and how you imagine Stanford will help you achieve your aspirations. We are also interested in learning about the things you have done that are most meaningful to you. In this section, we provide an optional opportunity to go beyond your resume to discuss some of your contributions more fully.

Please do not include your short-answer response in your essays upload; use the text boxes provided in the application.

Optional Short-Answer Question:

Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (Up to 1500 characters, approximately 250 words, for each example)

Editing Your Essays

Begin work on the essays early to give yourself time to reflect, write, and edit.

Feel free to ask friends or family members for feedback — especially about whether the tone and voice sound like you. Your family and friends know you better than anyone. If they think the essays do not capture who you are, what you believe, and what you aspire to do, then surely we will be unable to recognize what is distinctive about you.

Feedback vs. Coaching

There is a big difference between “feedback” and “coaching.” You cross that line when any part of the application (excluding the letters of reference) ceases to be exclusively yours in either thought or word.

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application — perhaps once or twice — and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft any part of your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic.

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or revocation of your admission.

Your essays are an opportunity to articulate your candidacy for Tuck. The best responses are clear, succinct, forthright, thoughtful, genuine, and so distinctly personal that only you could have written them. We expect that your essays are completely accurate and exclusively your own. Use of essay writing services violates Tuck’s admissions policies.

Essay Questions

  1. Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck? (300 words)
  2. Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are. (300 words)
  3. Tuck students invest generously in one another’s success even when it is not convenient or easy. Share an example of how you helped someone else succeed. (300 words)
  4. Optional: Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere (e.g., atypical choice of evaluators, factors affecting academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (300 words)
  5. To be completed by all reapplicants: How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (300 words)

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words)

The question evolved from a conversation with Professor of Organizational Behavior Amy Wrzesniewski, who noted, “Reading about future plans is helpful, but actions speak louder than words.” In your response, we are looking to learn about how you have approached a particular commitment, whether personal or professional, and the behaviors that support it. You should be less concerned about what we want to hear and instead focus on being honest with yourself in selecting and describing the commitment that has been most significant to you.

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