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Essay Questions for MBA Programs That Start In 2021

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

Instructions: In addition to learning about your professional aspirations, the Admissions Committee hopes to gain an understanding of your interests, values and motivations through these essays. There are no right or wrong answers and we encourage you to answer each question thoughtfully. The goal and essays 1, 2, and 3 are all required.

  • Goal: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (textbox, 50 characters)
  • 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? (Upload document, 500 Words)
  • Essay #2: Why do you feel that Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (Upload document, 250 Words)
  • Essay #3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (Upload document, 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. (Upload document, 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)

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Employment – Please provide an explanation for any gaps three months or longer in your employment history (textbox, 1000 characters)

Extracurricular Activities

  • For each activity – Description of Participation (textbox)
  • Hobbies – Please list other activities or interests that you regularly engage in: (textbox)
  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. (textbox, 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.
    The University of Virginia’s Commitment to Diversity
    Diversity stands with ethics, integrity, and academic excellence, as a cornerstone of University culture. The University promotes an inclusive and welcoming environment that embraces the full spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, and disciplines. When people of different backgrounds come together, they exchange ideas, question assumptions (including their own), and broaden the horizons for us all. A University of Virginia community rich in diversity affords every member equal respect and provides a forum for understanding our differences as well as our commonalities.
    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. (textbox, 200 words)

Short Answer Questions

  1. Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional or both. (textbox, 100 words)
  2. What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (textbox, 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

Family Information

  • Please elaborate on any of your above responses. Alternatively, you may use this opportunity to expand on hardships or unusual life circumstances that may help us understand the context of your opportunities, achievements and impact. (textbox, 150 words maximum)

Academic background 

  • 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. (textbox, 150 words maximum)
  • 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. (textbox, 200 words maximum)

What do you do for fun?

  • Activity – Description of Participation
  • List up to three hobbies or interests you enjoy in your free time.
  • What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words)

Supplemental Application: Batten Scholars Program

  • All candidates for the Batten Scholars Program are expected to exhibit strong leadership skills, a drive for innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit and/or impact in the technology area, 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.

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

Additional Comments

  • If there is further information you believe would be helpful to the Admission Committee, please provide it: (textbox, 250 words)

You’ll need to provide your thoughts on one short-answer question and two essays as part of your application.

Instructions for all written submissions

  • Responses should use 1.5-line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
  • Do not repeat the question in the document you upload with your application.
  • Respond fully and concisely.
  • Length requirements vary by question and are detailed below.
  • Responses must be completed before submitting your application.

All submissions are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in the admissions process.

Required short-answer essay question

Instructions: Answer the following question in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

  • What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan.

First required essay: 25 random things about yourself

Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed two pages.

For context: Fuqua believes different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out the best in everyone. And above all, we place a premium on succeeding while making a positive impact on businesses, organizations, and the world.  These ways of thinking set the Duke MBA experience apart, and this concept extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the admissions committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

Second required essay: The Fuqua community and you

Instructions: Your response should be no more than 300 words.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are the three most meaningful ways you expect to engage and contribute to our community outside of the classroom?

Optional essay: Tell us more

If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance), please explain them in an optional essay.

Please do not upload additional essays or additional recommendations in this area of the application, and limit your response to one page.

We have one essay question for you to answer:

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 minimum or maximum for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here: don’t overthink, overcraft, or overwrite. Use the space you need to answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.
Please upload your document below – PDFs generally work best. We have no preferences for font type or size (please, not too small!). Note that we do not accept audio or video submissions in lieu of a written essay.

Additional Information

Please share additional information here if you need to clarify any information provided in the other sections of your application. This is not meant to be used as an additional essay. Please limit your additional information to the space in this section.
We know you’ll be tempted, but please don’t send us any additional materials (e.g., additional recommendations, work portfolios). To be fair to all applicants, extra materials won’t be considered. (textbox, 500 characters)

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Additional Employment Questions – Please provide an explanation for any gaps in your employment history: (textbox, 1000 characters)

Post-MBA Goals – Briefly tell us more about your career aspirations: (textbox, 500 characters)

Activitites – for each activity – Description (textbox, 200 character limit)

Awards and Recognition – for each award – Basis of Selection (textbox, 200 character limit)

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. (200 words maximum)

2. What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (200 words maximum)

3. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (300 words maximum)

4. Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (100 words maximum)

5. 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. (optional)

MOTIVATION ESSAYS:

1. 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 (maximum 500 words).

2. 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(maximum 400 words).

3. 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, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (maximum 300 words)

4. Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (maximum 300 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 in textbox)

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 in textbox)

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 in textbox)

VIDEO ESSAY

We’ve read your essays, we’ve read your resume — now we want you to bring all that to life in a video. Show us the person behind all those carefully crafted words. The video will be comprised of three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that brought you here today.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to complete this section:

  • Video Essays are due 48 hours after the application deadline.
  • A video essay link will appear on your application status page after you submit your application and payment (starting in September 2020).
  • Please be advised that it may take several minutes for the application submission and payment to process in our system.
  • You will need an internet-connected computer with a webcam, a microphone and an updated version of Adobe Flash.
  • The video should take about 20-25 minutes to complete, which includes time for setup.

WHAT TO EXPECT

You will be asked three questions. Here are some insights:

  • One question will be an opportunity to introduce yourself to the Kellogg team.
  • The second question will ask about your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey.
  • The third question will focus on a challenging moment in your life and what you learned from it.
  • You will have 20 seconds to think about the question and up to one minute to answer.
  • To help you get comfortable with the format and technology, we offer a set of practice questions. We highly encourage you take advantage of these because the official essay questions cannot be re-recorded.

MORE DETAILS HERE: https://www.aringo.com/kellogg-video-essay-interview/

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE ONLINE APPLICATION

Professional Experience – Career Goals

  • What has been your most significant career accomplishment? (textbox, 240 characters)
  • What is your desired position after Kellogg? (textbox, 150 characters)
  • What is your long-term career goal? (textbox, 150 characters)
  • What drives your interest in these short- and long-term goals? (textbox, 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: (textbox, 200 characters)

Awards, Certifications & Recognition

  • For each one – Description: (textbox)

Extracurricular Activities

We know there’s more to you than just school and work. Tell us more about the kind of extracurricular activities and opportunities you’ve devoted your time to by listing up to six in order of importance.

  • For each activity – Description of Participation (textbox, 100 character limit)

International Experience

List up to six academic, professional or volunteer experiences abroad. (Time spent living abroad as a child can be categorized as academic.) Please do not include personal vacation or travel.

  • For each experience – Purpose: (textbox)

Question 1. (500 words)

What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these?

Question 2. (500 words)

(This question is optional)

Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School?

Part 1: Short-answer questions

Select one prompt from each group of the two groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or less (<100 words each; 200 words total). Every word counts here — the tight word count is intentional to force you to focus.

Group 1

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

Group 2

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

Note: The most interesting and insightful responses to these prompts remain when applicants share personal examples that allow us to learn more about who you are as a person, and what unique experiences and insights you would bring to the MBA class. 

Part 2: Career Goal Essay

Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. What is your short-term career goal and why? (200 words)

TIP: We found that the best responses to this essay were clear and succinct. The ones that were less successful tended to be less focused or focused too much on the “what” and not enough on the “why.” For the AdCom, the “why” is the most impactful and differentiating aspect of each essay to me. 

Optional statement

Is there something in your resume or application that could use some explanation? You might want to discuss the completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc.  Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Essay Questions

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 1,050 words. We recommend up to 650 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. We often find effective essays that are written in 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.

(Upload essay document)

Additional Information

Through all of the elements of your application, we believe that we get to know you well. Complete this section only if you have critical information you could not convey elsewhere on your application (e.g., extenuating circumstances affecting academic or work performance). Do not include essays, and please be brief. (upload document)

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.

First-time MBA applicants and re-applicants are required to complete both essays.

The Admissions Committee wants to get to know you on both a professional and personal level. We encourage you to be introspective, candid and succinct. Most importantly, we suggest you be yourself. For additional essay writing resources, see the essay tips article!

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Required Essay for all Reapplicants: Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

Optional Essay: Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.

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.

Your time in business school, and the choices you make thereafter, represent significant commitments. In asking this question, the Admissions Committee is seeking to learn about how you have approached a commitment of importance in your life. When it comes to choosing a topic, be genuine. We want to hear about something that is meaningful and distinctive to you, in your own voice. Your commitment can be personal, specific or expansive. We receive outstanding, insightful essays covering a wide range of topics.

The content of your essay is every bit as important as the topic. Regardless of the commitment that you choose, the most effective essays do a great job of describing your approach to commitment. Point to the specific actions that you have taken, over time, to bolster your commitment. This is especially important if you have chosen a broad topic, such as an ideal or a belief. Don’t just explain why a commitment is important to you; we want to understand how your behaviors have demonstrated and supported your commitment.

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