Columbia MBA Essay Examples

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Columbia CBS MBA Essay Samples

Columbia’s MBA essays reflect a holistic approach. The fit is VERY important. CBS wants to know why CBS and be assured you will fit in, as;that is a big part of their culture. The CBS essays are essential to showcasing fit, community involvement, viable career goals and leadership, proven or potential.

SBC has four former CBS Admissions Officers and multiple CBS MBA graduates who deeply know the nuances of applying to CBS successfully. If you’d like to speak with one of our Principals about your candidacy, please request a free analysis here.

Successful Examples of Columbia CBS Essays

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team .

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School HBS MBA

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School Kellogg MBA

Director HBS Admissions at Harvard Business School MBA, the Wharton School

HBS Admissions Board at Harvard Business School

Director HBS Admissions at Harvard Business School HBS MBA

Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)

Asst Director MBA Admissions at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) Director MBA Admissions at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB) Minority Admissions, the GSB Diversity Programs, the GSB

Associate Director MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Associate Director MBA Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute

Director, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Professional Writer

Assistant Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS) NYU Admissions

Assistant Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS) M.S.Ed, Higher Education, U of Pennsylvania

Associate Director MBA Admissions at Columbia Business School (CBS)

Ashley is a former MBA Admissions Board Member for Harvard Business School (HBS), where she interviewed and evaluated thousands of business school applicants for over a six year tenure.  Ashley  holds an MBA from HBS. During her HBS years,  Ashley  was the Sports Editor for the Harbus and a member of the B-School Blades Ice Hockey Team. After HBS, she worked in Marketing at the Gillette Company on Male and Female shaving ...

Kerry is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). During her 5+ year tenure at HBS, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a wide range of backgrounds across the globe. She also led marketing and outreach efforts focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, ran the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), and launched the 2+2 Program during her time in Admissions. Kerry holds a B.A. from Bates College and  ...

A former associate director of admissions at Harvard Business School, Pauline served on the HBS MBA Admissions Board full-time for four years. She evaluated and interviewed HBS applicants, both on-campus and globally.  Pauline's career has included sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM.  For over 10 years, Pauline has expertly guided MBA applicants, and her clients h ...

Geri is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS).  In her 7 year tenure in HBS Admissions, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a diverse set of academic, geographic, and employment backgrounds.  Geri also traveled globally representing the school at outreach events in order to raise awareness for women and international students.  In additio ...

Laura comes from the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is an HBS MBA alumnus. In her HBS Admissions role, she evaluated and interviewed hundreds of business school candidates, including internationals, women, military and other applicant pools, for five years.  Prior to her time as a student at HBS, Laura began her career in advertising and marketing in Chicago at Leo Burnett where she worked on th ...

Andrea served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.  In this role, she provided strategic direction for student yield-management activities and also served as a full member of the admissions committee. In 2007, Andrea launched the new 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School – a program targeted at college junior applicants to Harvard Business School.  Andrea has also served as a Career Coach for Harvard Business School for both cu ...

Jennifer served as Admissions Officer at the Stanford (GSB) for five years. She holds an MBA from Stanford (GSB) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jennifer has over 15 years experience in guiding applicants through the increasingly competitive admissions process into top MBA programs. Having read thousands and thousands of essays and applications while at Stanford (GSB) Admiss ...

Erin served in key roles in MBA Admissions--as Director at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Assistant Director at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). Erin served on the admissions committee at each school and has read thousands of applications in her career. At Haas, she served for seven years in roles that encompassed evaluation, outreach, and diversity and inclusion. During her tenure in Admissions at GSB, she was responsible for candidate evaluation, applicant outreach, ...

Susie comes from the Admissions Office of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she reviewed and evaluated hundreds of prospective students’ applications.  She holds an MBA from Stanford’s GSB and a BA from Stanford in Economics. Prior to advising MBA applicants, Susie held a variety of roles over a 15-year period in capital markets, finance, and real estate, including as partner in one of the nation’s most innovative finance and real estate investment organizations. In that r ...

Dione holds an MBA degree from Stanford Business School (GSB) and a BA degree from Stanford University, where she double majored in Economics and Communication with concentrations in journalism and sociology. Dione has served as an Admissions reader and member of the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee at Stanford.   Dione is an accomplished and respected advocate and thought leader on education and diversity. She is ...

Anthony served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise. During his time as a Wharton Admissions Officer, he read and reviewed thousands of applications and helped bring in a class of 800+ students a year.   Anthony has traveled both domestically and internationally to recruit a ...

Meghan served as the Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute, a joint degree program combining the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies. In her role on the Wharton MBA admissions committee, Meghan advised domestic and international applicants; conducted interviews and information sessions domestically and overseas in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe; and evaluated applicants for admission to the program. Meghan also managed ...

Amy comes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she was Associate Director. Amy devoted 12 years at the Wharton School, working closely with MBA students and supporting the admissions team.  During her tenure at Wharton, Amy served as a trusted adviser to prospective applicants as well as admitted and matriculated students.  She conducted admissions chats with applicants early in the admissions ...

Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School (CBS).  During her time at Columbia, Ally was responsible for reviewing applications, planning recruitment events, and interviewing candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. She traveled both internationally and dome ...

Erin has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU's Stern School of Business. At Columbia Business School, Erin was an Assistant Director of Admissions where she evaluated applications for both the full time and executive MBA programs, sat on the admissions and merit scholarship committees and advised applicants on which program might be the best fit for them based on their work experience and pro ...

Emma comes from the MBA Admissions Office at Columbia Business School (CBS), where she was Associate Director.  Emma conducted dozens of interviews each cycle for the MBA and EMBA programs, as well as coordinating the alumni ambassador interview program. She read and evaluated hundreds of applications each cycle, delivered information sessions to audiences across the globe, and advised countless waitlisted applicants.

A leader I admire is Barack Obama. Even though I often didn’t agree with his politics, I was always impressed with President Obama’s ability to provide stability, unwavering self-confidence, and decisiveness while also building consensus. These are leadership qualities I strive to emulate in my own career.

The hallmark of Obama’s leadership style was his cool, calm, and collected disposition. This temperament empowered Obama to repair the United States’ relationships with foreign powers, such as Germany and South Korea, who did not particularly care for the style of diplomacy displayed by the Bush administration. Foreign diplomats had grown tired of America’s rogue leadership, and Obama’s approach allowed the United States to rebuild diplomatic equity.

Obama’s self-confidence almost never showed signs of wavering. He gave off the impression of control, that the United States was always operating from a position of strength and reason. This was exactly what the United States needed when Obama took office, as the country was reeling from the Great Recession of 2008 and Obama’s levelheadedness provided a stabilizing force.

I particularly admire Obama’s consensus-building skills: he a found ways to harness diverse voices while simultaneously providing decisive leadership. Obama listened to every side of an issue; however, he was the ultimate decision-maker. The Osama bin Laden raid is a great example: Obama built support from his military advisers in the weeks leading up to the raid, while providing clear direction for a brave and successful action, which had so much meaning for the American people.

I have fond memories of late nights and delicious meals at Union Square Café, one of the flagship restaurants of New York restaurant legend Danny Meyer. However, to me — a confident yet disillusioned chef — Danny Meyer was a peer and a rival. Gradually, my natural rivalry grew into admiration as I began to comprehend Danny’s contributions to the hospitality industry. What had started as a Romanesque café had grown into a global hospitality group (USHG) founded on a simple principle, “Enlightened Hospitality”. This ethos changed the entire restaurant world, inspiring us to treat customers as guests and to hire based on personality, not experience.

Over the years, Danny Meyer has always trusted his instincts. He believed in Madison Square Park when he invested in Shake Shack, he believed in better wages when he introduced no-tipping to all of his restaurants, and now, as age makes operations less appealing, Danny has leveraged his reputation and expertise to create Enlightened—a hospitality private equity fund. At Enlightened, Danny invests outside the restaurant industry and demonstrates that hospitality is fundamental to every business.

As I prepare for CBS and Danny and I both divest from operations, I can’t help but compare myself to him again. When I was considering leaving Restaurant Name, I spoke with Danny about my future: he encouraged me to think critically and to follow my instincts. As I begin the next chapter, I intend to follow Danny’s lead and continue to broaden the definition of hospitality.

Growing up, I loved every opportunity to visit New York City whether it was to play in Carl Schurz Park or discover something new in the Museum of Natural History. From the glossy skyscrapers in Midtown to the cast-iron buildings in SoHo, I have long been enamored with the city. Thus, my goal immediately after graduation is to join a top-tier real estate investment firm such as Blackstone or Brookfield. Bringing transferable finance skills as I pivot from banking to investing, Columbia is vital to filling my knowledge gaps and expanding my professional network.

From current students Ssss and Pppp, I learned that Columbia’s real estate program produces industry leaders by integrating rigorous coursework with real life experience. I will take full advantage of courses such as Real Estate Entrepreneurship, Social Impact Real Estate Investing and Development, and Real Estate Transactions to equip me with the academic background necessary to succeed in real estate investing. I am excited to learn from renowned professors such as Ccccc and Llllll.

My long-term dream job is to launch my own real estate investment fund that will shape the New York skyline with buildings that have a positive, lasting impact on the greater community. After working on the construction financing for One Vanderbilt, a rising office tower that will include LEED certifications, green community space, and railroad improvements to Grand Central, I began reading and researching sustainability and advancements in relevant technology. I’ve discovered that New York real estate is severely under served by modern technologies in infrastructure and renewable energy, which has fueled growing social and environmental concerns. No one person or group has all the expertise to solve this complex problem, so successfully improving city living in the future will require collaboration. At Columbia I envision facilitating discussions between the Real Estate Association, Technology Business Group, and Green Business Club to learn from one another and find points of overlap allowing for advanced “green real estate development.”

I will network with Columbia peers and industry professionals within the banking, private equity, technology, energy, and entrepreneurship fields in the classroom and be deeply involved with the Real Estate Association. In addition, I will organize a team to participate in case competitions such as the UNC Real Estate Development Challenge, where I can test my impact initiative in a real-world scenario. Through the Leadership Lab I will build self-awareness and refine my skills to successfully communicate my vision to investors in the future.

Columbia is my first choice program, and the best place to arm me with the academic skillset, network, and leadership tools to join a real estate investment firm and later launch my own real estate investment fund. Combining the goals of profit with enhanced quality of life, I am eager to become a leader within the real estate industry and create a lasting impact on the greater New York community.

I recently visited the XXX Museum in Morocco. I’ve always had an interest in the fashion industry, but my interest fell by the wayside when I started my career in consulting. I wasn’t confident that I had the right skills to elevate my interest to anything more than a hobby. Three years later, learning about Laurent’s accomplishments reignited a fire in me. While consulting has armed me with a foundational set of skills, an education at Columbia will help me transition into spending 3-5 years in growth strategy at an established luxury fashion company before ultimately launching my own brand.

Working in consulting accelerated my understanding of critical business functions and pushed me to become a better thinker, leader, and doer. Serving retail clients in a customer experience strategy light unveiled my interest in understanding the consumer’s shopping mindset. However, the volatile nature of consulting prevents me from diving deep into the role that I desire; now is the perfect time for me to hone my consulting capabilities in the world of fashion entrepreneurship. Columbia’s Retail & Luxury Goods and Entrepreneurship Programs present the perfect learning environments to combine my consulting skills with my passion for fashion.

Following graduation, I will spend 3-5 years working in growth strategy for an established brand such as ZZZ or ABC. These companies have built brands that consistently evoke visceral emotions within their audiences, a feeling that I seek to translate into my own. Applying the skills I gained at CBS with consulting, I will conduct research on customer and industry trends to provide strategic recommendations that will grow that brand, all while I strengthen my network in the fashion industry. Pairing relevant industry experience with my time at CBS will give me the complete set of skills needed to achieve my dream of starting my own clothing company.

My dream is to lead my company (dont kill the mood or dktm) as its CEO. dktm was initially conceived when I was on a date with someone who spent the afternoon on her phone. Hurt feelings aside, the experience exposed me to a dangerous societal problem: we are entering a digital age that requires less human interaction, culminating in a steady deterioration of our ability to form meaningful connections with one another. dktm’s visual aesthetic will provoke people to think about that missing emotional connection and inspire them to re-establish it. As CEO, I will define dktm’s long-term vision, build an actionable business strategy, and advise on the direction of the brand’s identity.

Having spoken with multiple students, I’m confident Columbia is my ideal choice. ABC (‘19) told me of the friendships she established with classmates and mentors, including ABC VP of Fashion. YYY (‘19) informed me of the various courses I could take to develop my fashion entrepreneurship skills, such as Lean Launchpad. Through CBS, I will create lifelong friendships, learn from seasoned veterans, and kickstart my vision of ensuring that people dont kill the mood.

In Berkshire Hathaway’s 2017 shareholder meeting Charlie Munger somewhat wryly remarked “It would certainly be unpleasant if we were in the department store business… Just think of what we avoided Warren.” While Munger and Buffet may be glad they’ve avoided the department store business I couldn’t be more excited about it. The changes, challenges, and competition that have scared off investors and forced numerous retailers into bankruptcy have made this one of the hardest but also the most interesting times to be in the industry. That is why I plan to continue working in corporate strategy in the retail industry for the next 3-5 years. The pace of change and ongoing challenges are just too exciting to pass up.

I’d ideally like to use XXXXX’s strength in the high-end retail space to move to the corporate strategy team for a global luxury goods conglomerate like LVMH, Kering, or Richemont. Longer term my dream job would be to manage a fashion focused investment fund – such as the venture arm LVMH launched this year – because while I’m not sure if we’ll still be using iPhones or driving our own cars in 10, 20, or 100 years—I’m willing to bet that we will still be buying and wearing clothes!

My enthusiasm for retail stems from my work over the last year – in which I’ve been able to collaborate with our Chief Digital Officer on a project to define and build-out XXXXX’s new 1234 Strategy. Our CDO called this project “the most exciting, but also the most complex idea” that he has worked on during his time at the company. I was involved in significant pieces of work including in-depth analysis of our top market which led to the development of a pilot program, new service experiences, and the expansion of our XXXXX stores all in the XYZ area. Additionally, I took the lead on a specific ask from our CDO to develop a comprehensive view on how we should segment the different kinds of markets we have stores in.

I presented my work to our executive team and helped craft the story and strategy that later went to the Board. My work helped to shift our internal strategy from “why would you ever invest another dollar in stores?” to “our greatest opportunity to win in a digital/online world is by leveraging our existing assets and disproportionately investing in our top markets and best customers!” In our most recent semi-annual senior leadership meeting our CDO declared that XXXXX’s focus in 2018 would be the 1234 Strategy that I helped to develop.

Working on such high-impact and transformational projects has been very exciting and it’s absolutely cemented my desire to continue working in the retail industry after business school, by either jumping to high end retail or returning to XXXXX. I’ve developed strong perspectives on what traditional retailers need to do to remain relevant and competitive in the digital/online age and I’m confident that the program will provide me with the perfect education and experience to move to a global luxury goods conglomerate and continue my growth in the retail field.

In the next five years my goal is to implement people-first policies to expand both the balance sheet and the culture of a financial services company. My goal is to develop an organization into a Forbes Top 100 Companies to Work For; making the culture a more diverse and inclusive space for professionals. Human Capital is becoming agile and innovative; executives are striving to change their interactions with employees and adapt to new trends to retain top talent. Through the J-Term Program, I will become a more strategic, operations focused Human Capital professional with the ability to build the best people-structures from my knowledge of business and lead companies through crucial Human Capital change.

Post-graduation I will strategically align business and talent needs with skills and insight gained through my coursework during J-Term. An MBA will prepare me to address the ongoing challenges of worker expectations and provide me with the strategic skill set to develop innovative solutions for clients. HR is increasingly tied to business outcomes; quantifying the financial impact of programs to retain top talent and making the business case for investing in Human Capital capabilities. In the future of work, the human resource will increasingly become the ultimate resource, and my MBA skill set will make me a leader adaptable to this change.

J-Term at CBS is the perfect place for me to hone my business skills while staying connected to my network in the Human Capital industry. The program will provide me with the ideal combination of entrepreneurial classmates, exposure to an international cohort, and a fast-paced MBA experience so I can return to my career ready to make a positive impact. I will take advantage of CBS’ unmatched opportunities through participation in master classes to bridge the gap between theory and practice, choosing a project based elective in HR. I will contribute to my diverse learning team, sharing my knowledge of C-Suite priorities through my exposure in industry. Through CBS Matters, I will share thought leadership in Human Capital and help Columbia diversify its cutting edge expertise by building up its Human Capital terrain. After speaking with current J-Term students and alums, including Student 1, Student 2, and Student 3, I am confident that my classmates will have similar ambitions, providing me the opportunity to build new perspectives and relationships. My dream job is to found my own Human Capital consulting firm, changing the way the global economy values its most important resource: people. The J-Term experience will allow me reach this goal by providing invaluable networking opportunities and a core foundation to build this business. Lastly, J-Term will allow me to continue building my career in New York. Columbia’s Manhattan setting at the center of the financial services world will not only allow me to keep in touch with the C-Suite executives I worked with at Consulting Firm– most notably, the relationships I built at ABC Company– but also provide me access to new, local alumni contacts, where I can form relationships and intern during the school year.

Columbia’s MBA program is the inflection point that will enable me to make a career shift into the restaurant industry. Upon graduation, I will develop and lead a strategy team for a restaurant group such as NoHo Hospitality or Myriad. Though this role does not exist in most hospitality organizations, I aspire to forge a path in this business for analytics-based strategy to be integrated into market expansion. A large challenge that restaurant groups face is that decisions are made by investors rather than driven by individuals with expertise in using research to manage growth. Through years of ongoing conversations with contacts in the business and avidly following trend studies, I see an opportunity for strategy to play a critical role in restaurant groups’ development. This function is especially pertinent considering that this industry is experiencing soaring rates of failure: the number of New York City restaurant closings in 2014 nearly doubled from the previous year (Zagat 2014). Maturing my skills in a strategy role will empower me to eventually become the chief executive officer of an existing restaurant group such as Union Square Hospitality or STARR Restaurants.

This trajectory perfectly marries my strategy background from JPMorgan with my longstanding passion for cuisines and dining. Now is a pivotal time to enter the business as there is a vast influx of private equity investment; Alliance Consumer Growth’s recent funding of Tender Greens is a notable example. I have attended several on-campus events and spoken with numerous students and alums, but my friend Diego Suarez’s reflection particularly stood out: he said that while his Columbia MBA granted him tremendous credibility when pursuing his career change, more importantly it provided the knowledge base required to switch industries. Diego’s comment further fuels my conviction that Columbia’s elective-heavy curriculum will afford the formal training I need to seize this time-sensitive opportunity. CBS’s specialized classes such as Consulting 101: Driving Strategic Impact and Napoleon’s Glance will allow me to adapt the project management skills that I cultivated in ABC investment bank’s Internal Consulting Analyst Program and apply them to hospitality groups. Moreover, CBS enables students to learn from renowned faculty: Dean Kathy Phillip’s leadership seminar offers unparalleled insight into management skills that will be paramount to leading a strategy team and eventually a restaurant group. Lastly, I can explore NYC’s thriving restaurant scene with my classmates and expand my hospitality network in New York though the Gourmet Club and Columbia Women in Business.

While Columbia’s exceptional curriculum and classes offer the education I require to transfer my strategy skills to the restaurant business, its unique programs outside of the classroom will further drive my professional growth. The Global Immersion Program will give me exposure to applying learned concepts to new industries, which is a skill that will be critical to my transition. I am tremendously excited to take advantage of the opportunities that this program, along with Columbia’s career-oriented curriculum structure and celebrated faculty, will provide to propel my success in restaurant strategy.

CBS offers a balanced curriculum, incredible alumni network, and a culture of integration and inclusion that will provide me both personal and professional growth. I look forward to the pre-term leadership program, where I will develop my skills in communication and collaboration and identify my leadership style. Later, in “Advanced Organizational Change,” I can learn from industry leaders and hone my leadership style further. CBS develops leaders by creating a culture of understanding and the CBS Matters program is an incredible way to learn about my classmates and improve my understanding of people and cultures. Additionally, I look forward to supplementing my leadership classes with several on-campus organizations, including the Management Consulting Association (MCA), the Small Business Consulting Club, and the Hospitality & Travel Association. Current student Template:Student A has shared how MCA greatly assisted in his recruitment process. I look forward to learning case interview best practices from my peers, as well as eventually sharing that expertise as a second-year student.

Professionally, I will build a solid foundation in Finance and Accounting while learning the nuances of consulting. I appreciate that CBS offers “Strategy Formulation” as a core class so that I can learn the basics of strategy consulting using the case method. Additionally, I will take Professor Zabar’s Immersion Seminar on Organic Grocery Entrepreneurship and leverage his network to land an inter-semester internship at a company like Beertopia or Happy Family Organics. Lastly, I would like to participate in a Global Consulting Project through the Chazen Institute.

For me, one of the most exciting characteristics that Columbia’s reputation and location fortify is that CBS attracts a plethora of speakers, students, and renowned professors which will enable me to connect with hospitality thought leaders. Columbia’s Executives in Residence program offers a unique opportunity to benefit from the guidance of industry magnates. By fostering relationships with these executives, I can gain experienced insights into my career path. Furthermore, CBS’s collaborative curriculum ensures that I will learn from my classmates’ talents and experiences. Firsthand industry knowledge amassed through personal connections is an incommensurable component of effectively transitioning into the restaurant business; the executive mentorship program and diversity of my classmates, along with the sheer size of Columbia’s network, present unmatched wisdom.

While CBS’s location shapes and strengthens its professional resources, it additionally grants invaluable access to New York City. NYC is not only the “very center of business,” it also is the “very center of cuisine”: the ultimate location for me to launch my hospitality career. The industry’s growth in New York, combined with restaurants’ accelerating failure rates, creates a unique landscape with immense room for expansion this is not being effectively pursued. With more than 18,696 restaurants, NYC is the prime location in which to manage restaurant group development (NYC & Company). Columbia Business School offers an unparalleled MBA program for me to pursue my passion for restaurant strategy because its location will afford me access to prominent leaders at the epicenter of the nation’s hospitality industry.

columbia mba essay sample

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Columbia MBA Essay Examples

Columbia MBA Essay Examples

Here are some Columbia MBA essay examples and tips for how to write your own! Columbia Business School is at the top of MBA rankings , and getting accepted is very competitive. This means your MBA admissions essays for Columbia need to be very strong, meaning well-written and captivating for the admissions committee. In this blog, we’ll look at how to write a great MBA essay for Columbia, the essay requirements and some Columbia MBA essay examples to help inspire you.

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Article Contents 6 min read

How to write a columbia mba essay.

Your Columbia MBA essay examples need to be strong and well-structured but also add something significant to your application. Columbia Business School is home to one of the best MBA programs in the world , so getting accepted is competitive. Your MBA essays can be a significant strength in your overall application, along with your MBA resume and MBA interview questions .

Columbia MBA asks applicants to respond to MBA essay prompts, so to write an effective Columbia MBA essay, you should address the prompt as thoroughly and in-depth as possible, while keeping to the word count and exhibiting strong writing skills. For each prompt, reflect on your experiences to identify the ones most relevant to the prompt, and most important to you. You can also talk to an MBA essay consultant for brainstorming and writing help. Lastly, be sure to do some research on Columbia’s MBA program to find out what the admissions committee values.

The Columbia Business School’s mission statement and values reflect a commitment to transformative leadership, the dissemination of knowledge and a respect for diversity and inclusion. Columbia Business School’s values statement is:

“To achieve our vision of developing innovative ideas and inspiring leaders that transform the world, the members of CBS strive to build and sustain a welcoming and intellectual community that values and respects individuals’ different and shared identities and perspectives.”

The Columbia MBA program is looking for applicants with strong, proven leadership skills, intellectual curiosity and high academic ability, as well as students who will contribute meaningfully to the school culture. Although you don’t need to write an MBA diversity essay for Columbia, the admissions committee does want to see your unique perspectives and meaningful experiences in your Columbia MBA essays.

Columbia MBA Essay Requirements

The Columbia MBA requirements include a section for three required MBA admissions essays and a short answer question. There is also an optional MBA essay and additional MBA essay questions for the deferred enrollment program.

For the short answer question, keep it to a bullet point or short sentence. You can describe the job title or position you hope to achieve or condense your short-term career goal into a simple sentence. ","label":"Deferral and Short Answer","title":"Deferral and Short Answer"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

Here are some MBA personal statement examples from the Columbia MBA program.

Columbia MBA Essay Example #1

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

  Over the next three to five years, my career goals revolve around developing expertise in strategic management and honing my leadership skills within a global organization. Building upon my academic foundation and professional experiences, I aspire to assume roles of increasing responsibility and contribute to driving sustainable growth and innovation.

 In the short term, I aim to secure a position in a renowned financial consulting firm where I can immerse myself in diverse industries and work closely with senior executives to solve complex business challenges. This would provide me with valuable exposure to different sectors, sharpen my analytical and problem-solving skills, and allow me to cultivate a deep understanding of strategy formulation and implementation. Simultaneously, I intend to pursue advanced certifications in areas such as project management or data analytics to enhance my skill set and stay abreast of emerging trends and technologies. These additional qualifications will equip me with the tools needed to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape and add value to my future employers.

To achieve these goals, I plan to take on progressively challenging projects that allow me to expand my knowledge base, strengthen my decision-making abilities, and cultivate strong relationships with key stakeholders. Additionally, I will seek out mentoring opportunities to learn from seasoned professionals and gain insights into effective leadership practices. Looking beyond the next five years, my long-term dream job is to serve as a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) or Chief Financial Officer (CEO) of a global organization. As a CSO or CFO, I would have the opportunity to shape the strategic direction of the company, lead transformative initiatives, and foster a culture of innovation and inclusivity.

In this role, I envision myself leveraging my strategic acumen and business expertise to drive sustainable growth, adapt to disruptive market forces, and navigate geopolitical complexities. I aspire to create a positive impact not only within the organization but also on a broader scale by addressing societal challenges and promoting sustainable business practices.

Tell us about a time when you were challenged around one of these five skills ( Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias and Prejudice, Managing Intercultural Dialogue, Addressing Systemic Inequity , and Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking) . Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

During my sophomore year in college, I was confronted with a challenging situation that tested my ability to create an inclusive environment. As a member of the student council, I was responsible for organizing a campus-wide Cultures of the World event. However, I soon realized that there was a significant lack of representation from certain underrepresented student groups in the event planning committee. This was a clear indication of a potential bias and a missed opportunity to create an inclusive environment.

Firstly, I initiated a dialogue with the committee members, expressing my concern about the lack of representation and the importance of incorporating diverse voices in the planning process. I also encouraged everyone to reflect on their own biases and be mindful of the need to mitigate prejudice in our decision-making. I reached out to student organizations representing underrepresented groups, inviting them to join the event planning committee. I also organized brainstorming sessions focused on ensuring that various cultures and perspectives were represented in the event's activities, performances, and discussions.

The outcome was incredibly rewarding. By actively involving underrepresented student groups in the planning process, we created an event that showcased the true diversity of our campus. The inclusive environment fostered open and respectful dialogue among students from different backgrounds, promoting a sense of unity and understanding. Moreover, the event received positive feedback from attendees, who appreciated the efforts made to address systemic inequity and highlight marginalized voices. The experience taught me the importance of taking action in promoting inclusivity.

Want more MBA personal statement examples?

Columbia MBA Essay Example #3

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

Academically, the school's commitment to experiential learning and its emphasis on real-world applications would provide me with the practical skills and insights necessary for success, especially in working with non-profits through the Non-Profit Board Leadership Program, as working in the non-profit field is my goal. Moreover, the opportunity to engage with distinguished faculty members, such as Melissa Berman, would allow me to delve deeper into the business and organization of non-profits and broaden my intellectual horizons.

Professionally speaking, Columbia Business School's location in the heart of New York City offers unparalleled access to global business opportunities, particularly in the non-profit sector. The school's strong ties with industry leaders, alumni network, and career resources would provide me with invaluable connections and internships, enabling me to translate my academic knowledge into practical experiences.

Culturally, CBS is an ideal fit for me as an individual passionate about collaborating with people from different backgrounds and perspectives. The school's diverse student body would provide an enriching environment for cross-cultural learning and networking. Additionally, the plethora of student organizations and initiatives, such as the Social Enterprise Club, would enable me to contribute to causes I care about while building lasting relationships with like-minded individuals.

Columbia’s MBA program is considered one of the best in the world, with an admissions rate just over 16%. Getting accepted to Columbia’ MBA program is quite competitive, considering the amount of applicants the business school receives every year and its fairly rigorous academic standards.

There are 3 required MBA essays at Columbia, plus an optional essay. Columbia also requires deferred program applicants to answer two different MBA essay questions.

Columbia’s MBA program is considered one of the best in the world and at the top of the business school rankings. As of this year, Financial Times' Global MBA rankings puts Columbia at the very top of the best business schools worldwide.

Your Columbia MBA essays will have a word limit of 500 words for the first required essay, and a limit of 250 words for the second and third required essays. The optional essay has a word limit of 500.

Yes, the Columbia MBA essays are a significant part of your overall application and can be a big asset to your candidacy. It’s important to take your time and write well-structured and stand-out essays that will add to your application and help you get accepted.

At this time, no, Columbia does not use video essays for its MBA program.

To write a good MBA essay for Columbia, read the prompts very carefully and brainstorm ideas that relate to the prompts directly. Any experiences you highlight should be meaningful and impactful to you, personally or professionally. You should also choose experiences which highlight the values of Columbia Business School, such as diversity, intellectual curiosity, leadership and innovation.

If you’re not sure what to say in your MBA essay, do a bit of brainstorming on the provided prompts or essay questions. Write down a few key experiences that relate to the prompts or answer the questions. You can also talk to an MBA essay consultant or MBA admissions consulting service for help with your essays.

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columbia mba essay sample

Ellin Lolis Consulting

2023-2024 Columbia Business School Essay Tips and Example Essays

Jun 11, 2023

columbia mba essay sample

  • Who is Columbia looking for?
  • How should I answer the CBS essay questions?
  • Get Into Columbia Business School
  • CBS Deadlines

UPDATE : This article was originally posted on August 22, 2018. It has been updated with new information and tips below. 

Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia Business School offers its students access not only to top-notch academics but also to myriad networking opportunities outside of the classroom. Famous for having big names like Warren Buffett drop into classes to discuss past deals, Columbia truly offers unparalleled access to some of the biggest names in business. 

Given its tight-knit network, reputation as a finance powerhouse, and privileged location, landing a spot at Columbia Business School is no small feat. 

That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you use your Columbia admissions essays to stand out. We’ve rounded up not only our best tips but have also included example Columbia MBA essays to ensure you give your Columbia application your best shot. 

1. Who is Columbia looking for?

CBS class

(Photo courtesy of @columbia_biz on Instagram)

“Only Columbia Business School gives you the opportunity to shape your career in the very center of business. There’s something about being positioned in New York City, where access to leaders across industry is truly advantageous. Here you will learn to take on challenges and respond dynamically. You’ll gain skills to succeed in fast-moving, competitive environments anywhere. Hone your strengths. Find your best career path. Realize success.” Columbia Business School Admissions  

Every year, Columbia’s admissions team enrolls around 850 students for their prestigious MBA program out of around 6,100 applications. Though CBS does work hard to admit a diverse class (44% of the Class of 2024 were women, 51% were international citizens, and 42% were of minority origins (in the US), they do tend to admit applicants with 5 years of work experience. Applicants also tend to have average GMATs of 729 (GRE scores were not reported ).

Nonetheless, that does not mean that Columbia looks simply for good test-takers. Instead, they want a talented, principled, well-networked group of business leaders.

According to Columba’s Admissions team:

columbia mba essay sample

In addition, Columbia tends to respond favorably to applicants who can demonstrate that studying in New York City is a differential for them, so make sure to reflect on how you will use the city of New York to complement your learning and accelerate your career. 

If this sounds like the perfect B-school for you, you’ll first have to prove you’ve got what it takes by successfully answering Columbia’s admissions essay questions.

2. How should I answer the CBS essay questions?

Columbia has multiple different essays on a relatively wide range of topics. Our tips below break each down in detail. 

2.1. Short Answer Tips

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.

In their instructions, Columbia asks you to be extremely straightforward in telling them what you want to do professionally (and in which industry) immediately after graduating. 

Since you’ve only got 50 characters, get straight to the point and make sure you answer the question they are asking (job + industry). Being creative at the expense of giving them the information they want will be a mistake. Finally, no need to add “I want to…” here. Just jump right in.

2.2. Essay 1 Tips

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Like last year, CBS wants you to focus more on your longer-term plans (logical, since they have asked for your immediate post-MBA goal in the first question). This type of question reveals that CBS is interested in understanding your plans for the future in terms of how you see your career advancing over the long haul.

To answer this question, like any goals essay , it’s important to keep in mind that this is not a restatement or dramatic retelling of your CV. You will, however, want to provide a few lines of context, as this helps the reader later understand that you have the skills and motivations necessary to succeed in your goals. 

Next, launch into your 3-5 year goal. This should be related to your post-MBA goal and should state how you intend to continue growing. Stagnant goals here will not work well. 

Finally, make sure you state your long-term plans. Columbia asks you for your dream job, so really dream! Envision the impact you want to achieve in the world with your career and discuss why this “dream job” is so important for you. At the same time, make sure your dream job is feasible. 

They do not ask you how CBS will help you reach your goals, like many other goals essays do. As such, keep any mentions of CBS brief and ensure the star of the show here is your future and your motivations for pursuing the path you desire. 

TOP TIP : If you’re still not sure about your MBA goals, we’ve written a post designed to help you think through what your objectives are and how you might present them in your MBA application. You can check that post out here !

Need more guidance?

Our MBA Resource Center has dozens of past successful Columbia Business School essays that worked to get our clients admitted and a detailed brainstorm to help you plan out a winning CBS essay.

Our center also includes guides for all top global MBA programs, detailed essay brainstorms, interview tips and mocks, CV templates, and recommendation letter guides. Click to join !

MBA Resources Center

2.3. Essay 2 Tips

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias and Prejudice, Managing Intercultural Dialogue, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking.

Tell us about a time when you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words) 

The topic of diversity and inclusion has become increasingly center stage both in the business world and in MBA admissions. Columbia’s return to an essay question focused on their PPIL program is a reflection of Columbia’s continued effort to train leaders who truly value and promote inclusivity. 

PPIL program Columbia

Of course, success in business school and in your future career highly depends on your ability to work well with people who are different from you. But as the question also touches upon “mitigating bias” and “addressing systemic inequity,” it seems to me that Columbia is making a statement that the successful leaders of the future are those who actively promote ethical, inclusive work environments and company cultures. 

This essay prompt gives you the chance to prove that you have already had the opportunity to either work in an environment with others who are different from you or have championed the cause of diversity, ethics, bias, inclusion, or inequality in some meaningful way. 

The wording of the question makes it clear to me that this is not the place to write an essay that gives a superficial nod to diversity. For example, perhaps you held a 1-hour training session for the only woman on your team. Though this technically does fall under the category of promoting diversity, it just doesn’t convey the image that DEI is a topic that you resonate with and have actively promoted.

Before deciding if this is one of the three essays you should write, I think it’s important to first examine exactly what types of scenarios the question is asking about. Let’s break them down one by one.

Creating an Inclusive Environment : Inclusivity often gets thrown together with the concept of diversity, and is often used interchangeably with this term. However, inclusivity is more than just bringing diverse perspectives to the table. It’s fostering those perspectives and ensuring that they are fully able to meaningfully contribute. 

Mitigating Bias and Prejudice : Bias, especially unconscious bias and how it shapes our decisions, is a critical issue to tackle when promoting greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

For example, several years back we worked with a client from Latin America who had built a career in the public sector. Though English was not used in any way in the work his department did, a rigorous English test was administered as part of the hiring process in order to keep traditionally privileged people in government jobs. Recognizing how this bias was greatly damaging the fairness of the public service exam – and access to equal opportunities for stable jobs – our client took action and campaigned for a year to remove the English test as part of the hiring process. The results were tremendous, and the practice has been rolled out to other local and state governments. 

This is the perfect type of example to use for this question. If you do choose to write on this topic, make sure the bias – and how you actively challenged it – is clear. 

Managing Intercultural Dialogue : If you decide to go in this direction, make sure the example clearly demonstrates how you communicated or helped facilitate communication across different cultures. It might be helpful to keep the Council of Europe ’s definition of Intercultural Dialogue in mind as you brainstorm: “In a general sense, the objective of intercultural dialogue is to learn to live together peacefully and constructively in a multicultural world and to develop a sense of community and belonging.” 

When choosing an example, make sure you clearly show how the identities you communicated across were different, what techniques you used to overcome the challenges associated with this type of communication, and what the final outcome was. 

I wouldn’t frame this as a single conversation, but would contextualize it in the form of a STAR-format story where communicating across identities is core to the example. 

Addressing Systemic Inequity : I feel like this is the most difficult but one of the most potentially powerful options for this essay. Addressing systemic, entrenched inequity is no easy task. With the numerous candidates we’ve worked with over the past years, I can think of very few who had a story that would fit this answer. 

First, it’s important to define the difference between inequality and inequity. Many people use them interchangeably, but they mean very different things. We love this simple yet effective illustration by Sollis that demonstrates the two terms:

the difference between inequality and inequity

Source: achievebrowncounty.org 

As such, if you choose this option, you need to make sure you show a story where you challenged a long-standing lack of fairness . Of course, showing exactly how you did that – and why you decided to take this issue on – is of paramount importance. 

Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking : New compared to the list presented the last time this question was asked, this question is broad enough to include many different experiences with diversity, including your own personal experiences. 

Since the question asks you to discuss perspective taking, I don’t recommend choosing an experience solely focused on exploring your own identity (more on this later). However, you can focus on your own identity in relation to others. You could also focus on an experience that allowed you to understand another person or group’s identity. 

It’s important to note that this skill is presented as Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking, not either/or. As such, a complete answer here also needs to address the perspective taking part of your experience. 

As you brainstorm, it might be helpful to keep this definition from LinkedIn in mind, “Perspective taking is defined as trying on the perspective of another without fully agreeing or understanding the complexity of their perspective. Then, you can search to uncover and learn why they may have that perspective.”

So, great examples here are going to focus on understanding an identity in some way and then trying on the perspective of another to learn why they have that perspective. 

Remember, though – you should share a clear story on this theme. A broad personal narrative or intellectual discussion of identity or perspective taking won’t work well for this assignment. 

Overall, we suggest you start by considering the brand you are presenting to CBS and examine which examples might fit one of the five areas above. Though your example might actually tick multiple boxes, it’s imperative that you choose an example that fully links to one of the five concepts above. 

Though examples where you experienced one of the above work well, examples where you took action to overcome one of the challenges presented is, in my view, even better. If you were the one who faced discrimination in the example you choose, that also works well for this essay. 

Then, make sure you narrow this list down to your single best story . In a 250-word essay , you won’t have time to fully explore multiple examples, so limit yourself to one excellent story. 

Finally, write from the heart. Share the context, show why you took action, and tell us both the outcome of the story and how it changed you. Equally as important, avoid shaming or blaming others involved in the situation. If you have an example that fits this question, you’re well on your way to a “small but mighty” admissions essay. 

2.4. Essay 3 Tips

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams , an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (250 words)

I think the best way to break down this essay is to think about your answers for each of the three aspects CBS notes in the question: academics, culture, professional development. 

Let’s start with tackling the academics part of this question .  

To begin, we suggest you do deep research into Columbia’s MBA and make a list of the opportunities you hope to pursue.

An MBA is not a catch-all degree that serves a purpose for all career paths. As such, you need to demonstrate that the goals you have set for yourself require the additional training that the CBS MBA can provide. 

Be thoughtful about this particular section. If you show fluffy or unsupported ways in which you plan to take advantage of the CBS curriculum, you’ll also likely see your application tossed aside in favor of an applicant who was able to clearly demonstrate how they plan to leverage their time at business school. 

Instead, show that you deeply understand Columbia’s curriculum and have done significant, thoughtful research into how their academic opportunities will help you reach the goals you laid out in Essay 1. 

Then, tie each of these to a specific development goal you have during your MBA or a specific reason each. You won’t have space for a lot of reasons here since the question asks you to cover three different pillars, so we suggest focusing on 2-3 ways you can benefit from CBS academically. 

Considering the professional aspect , the benefits of an MBA extend far beyond the classroom, and nowhere is that more true than at Columbia. 

Since the city of New York plays such an important role in your CBS education, you want to demonstrate here that you’ve fully considered how you will take advantage of the city’s varied offerings and how this will lead to your development. 

Furthermore, Columbia is very proud of its many unique advantages (like renowned business leaders “dropping into” CBS classes), so you may also choose to discuss elements of the CBS MBA program like these that attract you. 

For example, a few years ago, our client Helena wanted to use her CBS MBA to transition from investment banking to private equity. When reflecting on the advantages CBS and New York City offered her to support this move, she knew access to one of the world’s PE hotspots was a huge asset, and opened her essay like this:

“When I decided to pursue an MBA to transition into Private Equity, I knew there was only one place to make this career change: New York City. The industry originally began there, and the city is still a hub for PE activity. I plan to capitalize on this geographical advantage and intern at one of these top firms. Putting theory into practice in New York, where the biggest, most important global deals are done, will give me an unmatched opportunity to build experience in deal execution with the very best.” 

Beyond CBS’ privileged location, you’ll also want to consider other aspects of the program specifically geared towards professional advancement and development, like the Executives-in-Residence program the prompt mentions. No matter what you choose, make sure you clearly connect how these opportunities will specifically help you reach your professional development goals. 

It is also important that you address the part of the question people often overlook – how does CBS align with you culturally? Addressing this topic means really finding one of the core values of the school and finding a way to discuss how it aligns with your career plans in a meaningful way. To do this, we suggest bringing in some mention of how you have exhibited one of Columbia’s values, such as promoting DEI or being a good collaborator, and connect it to how you will continue to pursue this value at CBS in specific ways. 

While you should do your own research to find the most relevant courses, opportunities, values, and people at Columbia for your goals and experience, we do suggest addressing one of the opportunities mentioned directly in the question ( clusters and learning teams , the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership , and the Executives-in-Residence program ). Particularly, we suggest that you address the topic of diversity and inclusion, which is foundational to CBS’s increased efforts to train leaders who truly value and promote inclusivity.  

Finally, make sure to include meaningful mentions of any students or alumni you’ve interacted with and how they have shaped your view that CBS is the best school for you. A laundry list of names won’t work here, but a quote from a mentor or citation of a class recommendation from a friend that helped reinforce your interest in Columbia would be appropriate. 

TOP TIP : When writing your essay, strive for the same level of specificity and connection to your specific professional and personal goals.

2.5. Optional Essay Tips

If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief 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)

This optional essay is unlike other schools’ essays, in that it is open enough to speak about more than just “issues” in your application. If you do have a low GMAT score, poor academic record, or other pressing weakness, please use this space to address the issue(s). 

However, if you would like, you can also use this space to discuss a personal challenge you have overcome or some unique factor in your profile you were not able to address in the essays. 

Do not use the essay to discuss “Why Columbia. ” You have ample space to address this in other parts of the essay.

2.6. Reapplicant Essay Tips

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate how you plan to achieve your immediate and long term post-MBA professional goals. (Maximum 500 words).

We have written extensively on the topic of reapplicant essays here .

Looking for Columbia Business School MBA essay examples? Check out our real sample essays that got our clients admitted here .

example CBS essays

3. Get Into Columbia Business School 

One of the most common mistakes we see in MBA essays is that candidates fail to tell compelling stories . This is important because if your stories are not compelling, they will not be persuasive. At the same time, they must be backed by strong examples that establish a track record of success and prove to the admissions committees why you belong at their school. 

Striking this balance between content and creativity can be tough, however, as succeeding means not only choosing the right stories but ensuring they are told in an optimal manner. 

This is why our iterative developmental feedback process here at Ellin Lolis Consulting helps you mold your message through the application of our storytelling expertise until it reflects exactly what makes your profile stand out and show fit with your target program. 

That’s the approach we took with Elisa, who was admitted to Columbia. In her words. “Ellin Lolis MBA Consulting helped me clarify my goals for the future and communicate those ideas effectively in my various essays. I’m confident that their editing suggestions helped me present myself as the best candidate I could be, which led me to get into CBS. 

I would highly recommend Ellin Lolis as they were fantastic at helping me flesh out ideas I had in my head in a way that would make the most impact with an admissions committee.”

Not only can you take advantage of our editing expertise through multiple edits – you can also benefit from it after a single review! If your budget is tight, our editors will be happy to help polish your text as much as possible and leave “bonus comments” so you can keep working on it on your own!

essay editing

No matter how long we work with you, we will always ensure your essays shine . Sign up to work with our team of storytelling experts and get accepted.

4. CBS Deadlines

Find below the deadlines for the 2023-2024 application cycle. You can start an online application by clicking here . 

Columbia is no longer using rolling admissions (except for the January intake) and has moved to a traditional rounds system (as detailed below).

CBS Deadlines

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  • Columbia Business School Essay Tips and Examples

May 19, 2023

Jeremy Shinewald

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School (CBS) requires its applicants to submit a short-answer goal statement of just 50 words and three somewhat concise written essays. Like the goal statement, CBS’s first essay prompt is about candidates’ career aspirations, but in the long term and in much more depth (at 500 words). For their second essay, applicants must discuss their active role in a diversity, equity, and inclusion experience, and for the third, they are asked to explain why they want an MBA from CBS in particular. Together, by balancing career goals with more personal, values- and character-based topics, the school’s essays should provide candidates with sufficient opportunity to provide a well-rounded impression of themselves as aspiring CBS MBAs. Read on for our detailed analysis of the program’s 2023–2024 questions.

Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2023–2024

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.”.

CBS applicants accustomed to Twitter’s standard 280-character allowance might find CBS’s 50-character limit here more than a little challenging—especially considering that it includes spaces! To get a sense of how brief your opportunity really is, note that the school’s question is itself exactly 50 characters. With such limited space, this can hardly be considered a true essay, but you will need to approach it with the same level of thought and focus you give all your other written responses for CBS. During a Q&A mbaMission conducted with several top admissions officers, Assistant Dean of Admissions Amanda Carlson commented,

That 50 characters really helps people to just break it down very simply for themselves and simply for us . . . . Pursuing business education, it’s a huge investment in time, in money, in effort, in energy, and I think this 50-character exercise is as much for the candidate as it is for our team, and we want to know that people are serious, they’re focused, and they’re ready for this kind of adventure.

So, this prompt is a no-nonsense request for information that is all about getting to the point and telling the admissions committee what it needs to know—that you have a clear and achievable goal. The school’s sample responses illustrate not only that conveying the requested information in such a tight space is definitely doable but also that you do not need to worry too much about grammatical issues or crafting a complete sentence (in other words, you do not need to start your response with “I want to” or something similar). We like to offer the statement “Reveal true goals, not what you think CBS wants” as both our own example of keeping things concise and our advice on how to approach and fulfill this request. 

So think about what you truly want to do with your career in the short term and state this aspiration directly. Keep in mind that the rest of your application needs to provide evidence that your stated goal aligns with your existing skills and profound interests, especially once they have been augmented by an MBA education. This will show that your professed goal is achievable and lend credibility to your statement. If you can do this in 50 characters (not words !), you will have done what you need to answer the school’s question quite well.

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job?   (500 words)

CBS starts this essay question by more or less telling you not to recap your career thus far, so we strongly recommend that you do so (and briefly, at that) only if context is absolutely needed for your stated goals to be understood and/or believable—perhaps if you are making a fairly remarkable career change. Pay particular attention to the phrase “dream job” with respect to the long-term portion of the question. The school is prompting you to be creative and perhaps even to challenge or push yourself to think big. CBS wants individuals who do not just follow prescribed paths according to someone else’s blueprint but who are aspirational and more inclined to forge their own way. This is not to suggest that if you have a more traditional plan in mind that you are in trouble or at risk of losing the admissions committee’s attention, but you might need to take a little extra time to consider your ambitions from the perspective of “what if?” and to delve more deeply into what you hope to achieve to find the more personal and inspiring elements of your goals. Showing creativity and individualism here can only be helpful.

Although this is not a request for a textbook personal statement essay, your response will certainly involve some elements of the topics covered in such a submission, such as short- and long-term goals. The mbaMission Personal Statement Guide offers advice on brainstorming and crafting such essays, along with multiple illustrative examples, and could therefore be helpful in preparing your CBS response to this prompt. You can download your free copy here .

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to develop as inclusive leaders.  Through various resources and programming, the goal is for students to explore and reflect during their educational journey on the following five inclusive leadership skills:  Mitigating Bias and Prejudice; Managing Intercultural Dialogue; Addressing Systemic Inequity; Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking; and Creating an Inclusive Environment. 

Describe a time or situation when you had the need to utilize one or more of these five skills, and tell us the actions you took and the outcome. (maximum 250 words).

Many of the top MBA programs are including essay questions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their applications, and CBS is no exception, though it does focus on five specific (and per CBS, “essential”) skills that fall under the DEI umbrella. In business school—as in life in general—you will encounter people who think differently from you, come from notably different backgrounds, and operate according to different values. And achieving success in an endeavor can involve weighing, navigating, and often incorporating the views of others in one’s efforts. With this essay prompt, CBS wants to learn about your firsthand experience with such differences. 

While you are in the school’s MBA program, you will be surrounded every day by individuals who are unlike you in a multitude of ways, and you will need to work in tandem with and alongside these individuals when analyzing case studies, completing group projects, and participating in other activities both inside and outside the classroom. CBS has created the PPIL program to help students more easily and appropriately navigate DEI topics and situations, but first, the admissions committee wants some evidence that you are capable of learning such lessons and acting on them when appropriate. It also wants to gauge your current level of understanding of the concepts and your ability to apply them by having you relate an illustrative story from your past.

To start, be sure that you understand the three core concepts fully: diversity, equity, and inclusion. Of the three, equity is the most easily misinterpreted, with people often assuming it is interchangeable with equality. While equality implies same, equity implies fair—requiring not that everyone be provided for or treated identically but rather that each person be provided for or treated appropriately for their particular situation. Similarly, true inclusion goes beyond simply providing a seat at the table, so to speak, for everyone on a team and demands that each person be invited or at least allowed to contribute in a meaningful way and that those contributions be valued on par with those of other team members.

Without question, recent years have certainly offered a multitude of contexts and situations in which people could “show up” for others who are different from them and work to ensure fairness and appropriate inclusion, such as participating in an organized protest or march, or stepping in when someone was being harassed or marginalized in some way. Again, CBS wants you to provide evidence of how you act on your values and ideals, so you cannot simply discuss why you believe that being “an ethical and inclusive leader” is important—you need to clearly describe a relevant situation and your mind-set, motivations, and actions. Fully illustrating and exemplifying the “how” element is crucial for this essay to be its most effective, so be as thorough as possible (within the rather restrictive 250-word limit) in explaining your thought process and the steps you took to make a difference. 

Because the school places no restrictions on the environment in which your experience(s) occurred, be sure to consider all the areas of your life (personal, community, professional) to uncover your strongest example. Similarly, the admissions committee does not stipulate that you must have been acting in a leadership capacity in the story you share, but if you have a strong example in which you were directing a team, group, or initiative, it would likely make for an even more compelling essay.

Essay 3: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams , an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program .

Why do you feel columbia business school is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally, please be specific (250 words).

To effectively answer the school’s question for this essay, you will need to conduct some significant research on all aspects of CBS and the MBA experience it offers, from its resources and community to its extracurriculars and location. The admissions committee calls out three major elements of the CBS program within the prompt and links to more information about them, so we recommend starting (or ideally, continuing ) your research there, even if you do not immediately think any of the three applies to you personally. In your essay, you must present a clear plan of action, showing direct connections between CBS’s offerings and your interests, personality, and needs. Note that the prompt does not present an “and/or” choice in its request—”academically, culturally, and professionally”—so you must be sure to address all three angles in your essay and do so thoroughly and relatively equally. This will demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are truly a good fit for, and enthusiastic about, the entire CBS MBA experience rather than being narrowly focused on just a few key resources or aspects.

Note that generic claims and empty pandering have no place at all in this rather compact essay. Any elements of CBS that you reference must be specific to your interests, character, and needs, and the connections between them must be made very clear. Be authentic about what draws you to CBS in particular, and create a narrative explaining how you will grow through the opportunities available there and benefit from the overall experience. 

The “why our school?” topic is a common element of a typical personal statement, so we (again) encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide , which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. It explains ways of approaching this subject effectively and offers several sample essays as guides. Click here to access your complimentary copy.

And for a thorough exploration of CBS’s academic program, unique offerings, social life, and other key characteristics, the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to Columbia Business School is also available for free.

Optional Essay: If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief 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)

CBS’s optional essay question starts out sounding like an open invitation to discuss almost anything you feel like sharing with the admissions committee but then puts the spotlight on addressing problem areas specifically (“areas of concern”). The additional directive about bullet points seems to be a not-too-veiled indicator that the school wants you to just impart any key information rather than offering a detailed and long-winded explanation of the issue in question. Without a doubt, this is not an opportunity to share another cool story or otherwise try to impress or pander to the admissions committee. If you do not truly need to explain an issue or potentially confusing element of your candidacy (a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, a gap in your work experience, etc.), we do not recommend that you submit an option essay; if you do have issues to clarify, keep things concise. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide , we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

The Next Step—Mastering Your CBS Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the Columbia Business School Interview Guide today.

2023-2024 Business School Columbia University (Columbia Business School) Essays MBA Essay Tips

Tags: business school essay Columbia Business School free guides Insider's Guides MBA application essays optional essay

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2023–2024 MBA Essay Tips

  • Berkeley Haas School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • BU Questrom School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Cambridge Judge Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Chicago Booth School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management Essay and Examples
  • Dartmouth Tuck School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Duke Fuqua School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Emory Goizueta Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • Esade Essay Tips and Examples
  • Georgetown McDonough School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Harvard Business School 2+2 Deferred MBA Program Essay Analysis 2024
  • Harvard Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • HEC Paris Essay Tips and Examples
  • HKUST Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • IE Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • IESE Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • INSEAD Essay Tips and Examples
  • International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Essay Tips and Examples
  • Ivey Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • London Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • Michigan Ross School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • MIT Sloan School of Management Essay Tips and Examples
  • Northwestern Kellogg School of Management Essay Tips and Examples
  • Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • NYU Stern School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Ohio Fisher College of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Oxford Saïd Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • SMU Cox School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business Application Essay Tips and Examples
  • Texas McCombs School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Essay Tips and Examples
  • The Wharton School Essay Tips and Examples
  • Toronto Rotman School of Management Essay Tips and Examples
  • UCLA Anderson School of Management Essay Tips and Examples
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Essay Tips and Examples
  • USC Marshall School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • UVA Darden School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • UW Foster School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management Essay Analysis, 2023–2024
  • Villanova School of Business Essay Tips and Examples
  • Yale School of Management Essay Tips and Examples

Click here for the 2022–2023 MBA Essay Tips

MBA Program Updates

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  • Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)
  • Columbia University (Columbia Business School)
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  • Dartmouth College (Tuck)
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  • Ohio State University (Fisher College)
  • Oxford University (Saïd Business School)
  • Penn State Smeal College of Business
  • Rotman School of Management
  • Saïd Business School
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  • Stanford University (Stanford Graduate School of Business)
  • University of California Los Angeles (Anderson)
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  • University of London (London Business School)
  • University of Michigan (Ross)
  • University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
  • University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • University of Southern California (Marshall)
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  • Vanderbilt University (Owen)
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Inspira Advantage

An applicant begins drafting one of her Columbia Business School essays

The Columbia Business School Essays: Examples + Analysis

While having the perfect MBA resume and getting a high score on the GMAT or GRE exam are important factors, they are not all that matters when it comes to your MBA application. Business schools also care about who you are as a person and what you have to offer outside of your academics. 

Top universities like Columbia Business School give applicants the opportunity to present themselves in more detail through a series of short essay questions. This article will help you to better understand the ins and outs of writing the Columbia Business School essay. 

If you follow our tips, your Columbia Business School essay will convince the admissions committee that you should be a member of the Columbia community. 

Purpose of the Columbia Business School Essays 

Essays are an important part of Columbia Business School’s admissions process. As US News writes, essays help the business school admissions committees “gauge the compatibility of a prospective student with the culture and values of the institution.” 

Though there are a series of essays that you must write, you must recognize that they ultimately work together to serve a single purpose: to paint a complete picture of who you are and what you want to accomplish. At the end of the day, the admissions committee wants to admit candidates who are well-versed in each aspect of their lives.

What are the Columbia Business School Essays? 

Though the questions are subject to change with every passing year, each Columbia Business School essay typically follows a similar format and theme. First-time applicants must submit responses to one short answer question and three essay questions. Let’s take a closer look at the themes and format for each of these questions:

Short Answer Question

Your response to the short answer question must be short, direct, and to the point, given the question’s short response allowance. Applicants must respond in 50 characters or less, which includes letters, punctuation, and spaces. 

All in all, your response should be approximately eight words long. This question typically asks about your short-term career goals. Given the stringent restrictions, don’t worry about being grammatically perfect; there’s no need to write in full sentences or waste characters by saying things like “I want to…” or “I plan to.” 

Statements like these communicate nothing of substance and are not expected based on the short answer response examples . What is most important is that you get your message across as efficiently as you can. 

While the short answer question isn’t long enough to be considered a traditional essay, it should still be approached with the same level of care, thought, and focus as your other Columbia Business School essay responses. 

Think long and hard about what you want to say before writing. Columbia Business School has designed this question to see if you understand your aspirations and ambitions well. The goals you allude to in this question should connect to what you discuss for the first essay question.

Columbia Business School Essay 1

The first of the three Columbia Business School essays typically requires applicants to focus on their long-term career goals. Feel free to use your response to the short answer question for the foundation of your answer. Consider discussing your goals over the next three to five years and exploring exactly how you intend to progress from your short-term to long-term career goals. 

While we encourage you to be as ambitious as you can when discussing your aspirations, don’t get too lost in your dreams for the future. Make sure to base your aspirations on reality and be as grounded as you possibly can. 

Show the admissions committee that your goals are not only ambitious but are also attainable. It is also worth considering how achieving your goals will impact those around you. Showing this level of consideration will indicate that you have put thought into the betterment of yourself and your career and your community as well. 

While this question may not explicitly require you to link your answer back to Columbia Business School, it is always a good idea. How will attending Columbia Business School help you to make your goals come to life? This is perhaps best added briefly at the end of your response, in no more than a sentence or two.

Columbia Business School Essay 2

The second essay asks you to show how well you can recognize and handle situations that demand inclusive leadership skills. The program administrators want to see how you apply what you've learned to real-life scenarios. 

By reflecting on a specific experience, you demonstrate your understanding of inclusive leadership principles and your ability to tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges effectively. 

This question also gives insight into your problem-solving skills and how you navigate social dynamics in different situations. Overall, it's about making sure you're ready to be an inclusive leader who can create diverse and fair environments in your community or workplace.

Columbia Business School Essay 3

The third and final required essay for your application asks you to explain why you think Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally. 

You'll want to provide specific reasons why you believe CBS is the right choice for you in these areas while keeping your response clear and to the point. 

They want to know why you see yourself thriving in CBS's academic environment, how you resonate with its culture, and why you believe it offers the professional opportunities you're seeking. Remember to keep it concise and focused while sharing your genuine thoughts and experiences.

Optional Essay 

In addition to the three essays, Columbia Business School also provides applicants an opportunity to provide the admissions committee with any relevant information that could not be conveyed within the other parts of their application. Do not feel as though you have to write a response if you don’t have any areas of concern. 

This essay is primarily for those applicants who need to explain situations such as any anomalies in their academic record (including transcripts and GMAT/GRE scores), inability to acquire recommendation letters, significant gaps in academic or professional experience, etc. 

Though this is a chance for you to provide any necessary explanations, do not make excuses. 

Your answer should be short, to the point, and focused solely on the facts surrounding your circumstances. After providing context, be sure to then explain the things you have done to address your concerns, also reiterating that despite your situation, you will be more than able to handle the academic intensity of their MBA program if admitted.

Top Tips for Crafting the Columbia Business School Essays

Crafting strong Columbia Business School essays begins with understanding your personal brand. By authentically showcasing your values, experiences, and aspirations, you can stand out from other applicants. 

Use real-life examples and be clear and concise to effectively convey your story and make a lasting impression on the admissions committee. Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips. 

1. Understand Your Own Personal Brand 

A key component of pursuing a career in business that is both intentional and fulfilling is having a good understanding of your own personal brand. While this term can appear to be pretentious and overcomplicated at first glance, it is quite simple. 

Understanding your personal brand means spending some time thinking about the things you value, the situations you have evolved from, and the places you are trying to go in the future. Though business schools will rarely ask you about this explicitly, they will definitely do so indirectly. 

Questions about your own personal brand are sprinkled throughout the Columbia Business School essay section. It is important to show as much of yourself as you can in your responses. Don’t give answers that you think they would want to hear or edit too much of yourself to fit a guide that you found on the internet. 

The admissions committee wants to learn about who you are. There are thousands of people who submit applications to Columbia Business School every year, the great majority of whom are highly educated, have stellar professional experience and have recommendation letters. 

The only thing that will really set you apart from the next applicant is who you are as a person, your goals, and your aspirations. These essays are the best way for you to present the full picture of who you are professionally, academically, and personally. This is why it is important to be genuine and authentic in your responses. 

A good way to make sure your Columbia Business School essay represents you is to ask a close friend, family member, or anyone else who knows you really well to take a look at your essay. Ask them if it sounds like you before submitting your application. If you need help incorporating your own personal brand into your Columbia Business School essay, check out How To Assess If Your Essay ‘Truly Reflects’ Who You Are .

2. Tell Your Story

The ability to tell the story of who you are in your Columbia Business School essay is often the difference between those who move forward in the application process and those who do not. An easy way to do this is to make sure that you include real-life examples to drive your answers to the questions. This is also an effective approach for your interview . 

Using these examples will enrich your essay with vivid details, which will impact the reader more than just making broad claims or general summaries. Though telling stories in your responses is good, refrain from embellishing the truth or being unnecessarily dramatic. Focus instead on using these real-life details as proof of your resilience, initiative, leadership, and ability to work as a team.

 3. Be Concise and Be Specific

Less is more when it comes to your Columbia Business School essays. The short word limit underscores the importance of being specific and to the point in your responses. Though there’s a lot you might want to communicate in these essays, remember that they are just one part of your application. 

Don’t just regurgitate experiences or skills that can be found in your resume, letters of recommendation, or other parts of your application. Instead, focus on building on and highlighting a few key accomplishments, details, and aspirations. 

Be intentional with the examples that you share and the language that you use. While you are trying to tell the story of who you are, you want to make sure that it is done in a way that is clear and easy to follow. Being concise and specific will also ensure that you stay focused and answer the questions being asked.

Common Mistakes

Common mistakes in Columbia Business School essays often occur when applicants fail to provide specific examples or details to support their points, leading to vague statements that lack impact. Sometimes, applicants might not fully answer the essay question or rely on too much business jargon, making their essay seem less genuine. 

It's also common for applicants to go over the word limit or forget to check for mistakes like typos and grammar errors. Additionally, focusing only on achievements without sharing personal stories can make the essay less interesting. 

Lastly, not researching the school enough or using generic essays that could apply to any school can show a lack of interest or fit. To avoid these mistakes, applicants should aim for clear, specific, and sincere essays that demonstrate their genuine interest in and suitability for Columbia Business School.

Columbia Business School Essay Examples 

Now that we have discussed what to expect when writing your Columbia Business School essay, let’s take a look at a few questions that you can be asked and ideal responses.

Sample Question and Answer for Essay 1

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. what are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job (500 words).

“Over the next three to five years, I'm focused on moving up the ladder in marketing, aiming to land a leadership role in a big global tech company. My plan is to get really good at digital marketing and data analytics while also getting better at leading teams and managing projects.
I want to be the person who leads teams made up of people from different departments to come up with and carry out exciting marketing plans. These plans should boost how well people know our brand, get customers more involved, and bring in more money.
In the short term, I'm looking to improve myself professionally. This might mean getting certificates in digital marketing or joining courses that help me become a better leader. I also want to find jobs that give me more responsibility and freedom, letting me have a bigger impact on the company's marketing goals.
Now, looking further ahead, my ultimate goal is to become the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of a top tech company known for its groundbreaking ideas and worldwide influence. As the CMO, I'd decide how we market our products, what messages we send out about our brand, and how we run marketing campaigns across different places and platforms.
As a leader, I believe in fostering a workplace where creativity, teamwork, and learning are valued. I want to inspire my team members to bring out their best and achieve great results. Working closely with other top executives, I'll ensure our marketing plans align with what the company wants to achieve overall, helping the business grow smart and sustainably.
I'm also interested in using technology and data to understand what customers want and how they behave. This knowledge will help us create marketing that feels personal and connects with the people we're trying to reach. By keeping an eye on what's happening in our industry and predicting changes in the market, I think I can help our company stay ahead and stay on top.
To sum it up, my plan for the next few years is to climb the ranks in digital marketing within a big tech company. Eventually, I see myself as the Chief Marketing Officer, leading strategic marketing efforts that take our company to new levels of success and innovation.
In my journey towards achieving these goals, I understand the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. I'm committed to staying updated with the latest trends and tools in digital marketing and leadership through attending workshops, reading industry publications, and networking with professionals in the field. Additionally, I recognize the value of feedback and collaboration, and I'm eager to learn from my peers and mentors to refine my skills and approach.
In conclusion, my career path is guided by a desire to grow, learn, and lead in the dynamic and ever-evolving field of digital marketing. With a focus on continuous improvement, collaboration, and inclusivity, I'm committed to achieving my goals and driving positive change in my organization and beyond.”

This essay paints a clear picture of the applicant's career goals, making it a good fit for a Columbia Business School application. It explains the candidate's desire to move up in the tech industry and highlights their commitment to learning and growth. 

The focus on using technology and data in marketing aligns with Columbia's innovative values. In summary, the essay effectively demonstrates why the candidate is a strong match for Columbia Business School.

Sample Question and Answer for Essay 2

Why do you feel columbia business school is a good fit for you (250 words).

“Columbia’s community is everything that I aspire to be a part of – diverse, inspired, and accomplished. Through classroom discussions with peers from across the globe, I wish to learn about how the interaction between governmental agencies and the private sector shapes economies around the world. In turn, I look forward to sharing my perspectives on the topic through my years of public sector management consulting at [Firm].
I am eager to capitalize on the unparalleled networking opportunities CBS offers by being in the heart of NYC. I can’t wait to interact with global private equity managers and policymakers to understand what [Country] needs to do to stay competitive and relevant as capitalism evolves. CBS’ rigorous academic curriculum creates exactly the kind of intense educational experience I seek. Electives such as Negotiations will help me strategize win-win situations as I seek to develop and execute privatization and capital-allocation strategies for governmental agencies.
As I think about the skills, networks, and thought-leadership that I wish to develop in order to realize my short- and long-term career goals, I see no better next step than an MBA at CBS.”

This sample proves to be an effective response to the question for a number of reasons. Along with showing the applicant’s sincere interest in the opportunities at Columbia Business School, specific mention of opportunities and electives offered by the university shows that they have done their research. 

They have done well to highlight the importance of the school’s location, as it shows that they are aligned with the culture and values of Columbia Business School, which views New York City as the center of business and an extension of its campus. 

This response is also effective because it demonstrates that the applicant doesn’t just have something to gain by attending Columbia Business School, but their experience as a public sector management consultant also gives them something to offer. The sample also shows that the applicant has drive, ambition, and a clear path to achieve their goals.

Sample Question and Answer for Essay 3

Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words).

“I have always been an avid reader of autobiographies, especially of statesmen and women who played pivotal roles in transforming their countries. However, a book that has left a lasting impression on me is The Singapore Story, a memoir of Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore and a leader that I greatly admire.
The resolve, conviction, and tenacity that Yew embodied are truly inspirational. Painful recollections of him crying publicly after Malaysia chose to separate itself from Singapore are a powerful reminder of his struggles. Nonetheless, he never gave up. Singapore had no natural resources, and its people didn’t speak English. 
He talks about how, through persuasive communication, he encouraged Singaporeans to believe in themselves, marketed the country’s human resources, and took Singapore from being a colonial backwater to a global economic powerhouse in just three decades. I wish to embody similar grit and communication abilities in the coming decades as I work towards uplifting [Country’s] citizens and transforming its economy. 
It is clear from his book that Lee Kuan Yew was extremely straightforward and had incredibly disciplined clarity of thought and expression. His unvarnished views give fresh and unique perspectives, which are a valuable insight into how a small country like Singapore became so relevant in the global arena. One day, I hope to develop a similarly coherent vision, inspire my peers, and create a better planet for generations to come.”

This sample for an essay three type question is successful because of the applicant’s choice of book. Though it is a bit obscure, choosing the memoir of Singapore’s first Prime Minister helps them to stand apart from other applicants. It shows that they are well-versed and have global awareness. They do a good job of explaining the significance of their book of choice and how it inspires who they want to be and what they want to accomplish.

Sample Question and Answer for Optional Essay

If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the admissions committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. this does not need to be a formal essay. you may submit bullet points. (maximum 500 words).

“In reflecting on my academic record and personal history, I recognize areas that may warrant further explanation to provide context for the Admissions Committee. During my sophomore year of college, a significant family crisis disrupted my academic focus, resulting in a temporary decline in my GPA. Despite this challenge, I sought support from my professors and utilized campus resources to overcome the obstacle. As a result, I was able to rebound and maintain a strong academic performance for the remainder of my undergraduate studies.
Additionally, in my junior year, I made the decision to take a semester off to pursue a personal passion project in social entrepreneurship. While this endeavor led to a gap in my academic record, I want to assure the committee that it was a deliberate choice aimed at furthering my long-term goals. During this time, I engaged in entrepreneurship workshops, volunteered with local community organizations, and conducted independent research on social impact initiatives. This experience not only enhanced my skills but also provided valuable insights that have shaped my career aspirations.
Furthermore, as a first-generation college student, I encountered unique challenges navigating the higher education system. With parents who immigrated to the United States and were unable to provide guidance or financial support for tuition, I relied on my own determination and resourcefulness to pursue my educational goals. Though my journey may not have followed a conventional path, it has instilled in me a strong work ethic, resilience, and determination to succeed despite adversity.
I hope to convey a more comprehensive understanding of my academic and personal journey. I am committed to leveraging these experiences to contribute meaningfully to the Columbia Business School community and to pursue my goals with passion and perseverance.”

This essay is effective because it openly addresses any potential concerns about the applicant's academic record and personal background. It shows how the applicant faced challenges like a family crisis and a gap in studies with resilience and determination. 

By explaining these situations honestly, the applicant demonstrates self-awareness and the ability to overcome obstacles. This approach helps the admissions committee understand the applicant's strengths and commitment to growth, especially as a first-generation college student. Overall, the essay gives a clear picture of the applicant's suitability for the program.

Let's take a closer look at the frequently asked questions regarding the Columbia Business School essays.

1. When should I start writing my essay? 

Columbia Business School operates on rolling admissions, and applications submitted for both early and regular decisions are reviewed in the order in which they are received. This means that the earlier you start your essay and the earlier you submit your application, the better. 

Start researching and planning your essays when Columbia Business School makes the questions available. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to write and edit your paper without the unnecessary stress of trying to meet the deadline.

2. How much should I be writing for my essays? 

The word limit for each of the three essays is subject to change with each passing year. Though it has been getting shorter in recent years, you can expect the word limit for each essay to remain in the range of 250 to 500 words.

3. Can I write over the word limit?

It is important to keep the word count into consideration when writing your essays, and we don’t recommend that you exceed the limit. Doing so can communicate that you don’t know how to follow instructions or that you are unable to properly organize your thoughts and ideas. 

If you are not sure about how much over the word limit is too much, a good rule of thumb is that 10%, either above or below the prescribed number of words, is typically acceptable. So, for example, if your word limit is 250 words, try not to write no more than 275 words and no less than 225 words.

4. What characteristics is the admissions committee looking for in my essay?

Columbia Business School is looking for applicants who are well-balanced in their academic, professional, and personal lives. They look for people who demonstrate that they have grit, ambition, and integrity. 

Applicants should strive to show that they care about their community, are able to work in both team and leadership roles, and possess emotional and analytical intelligence.

5. What can I do to make my paper better?

Before writing, do as much research as you can. You want to be able to show that you understand how you are going to take advantage of the resources and opportunities available at Columbia Business School. Find out what is important to the university and then show how what you have to offer matches those things. 

Once you have done your research, take the time to plan out your essay. Doing so will help to keep you on track and take full advantage of the word limit. After writing your essay, make sure that it is free of grammatical errors and typos. 

Though it may sound trivial, editing and proofreading your essay is another way that you can improve the strength of your writing. Reading your essay out loud is a great way to evaluate the quality of your writing. 

The places that sound awkward are the areas that you should revise. Having someone you trust to look over your essay is also a good idea before you submit it. A second pair of eyes will provide you with a fresh perspective and can help you determine whether or not your points are coming across the way you want them to in your essay.

6. How can I make sure my essay stands out?

When writing your essay, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Showing passion, personality, or vulnerability is one of the ways that you can stand apart from other applicants. Be very selective with the real-life examples you are choosing to include in your essay.

Make sure that these examples allow you to demonstrate that you have some of the qualities that Columbia Business School is looking for in an applicant.

Conclusion 

While it can be a challenging aspect of your MBA application, your Columbia Business School essay is a great way to tell the admissions committee who you are and what you have to offer. It is the aspect of your application that allows you to demonstrate the ways that you are aligned with the values and culture of the institution. 

When writing your Columbia Business School essay, remember to do your research, plan out your response and revise what you have written. If you use this as an opportunity to show your personality and vulnerability, you’ll be that much closer to submitting a strong application to Columbia Business School.

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Advice, tips and insights from the admissions dream team., table of contents, how to tackle the columbia mba essay questions.

  • By Karen Hamou

Columbia Business School requires three essays in its MBA application. For the 2023–2024 admissions cycle, they have changed one essay — or, rather, reverted back to one in use a few years ago.

CBS is once again asking applicants to describe a time when they were challenged around one of five skills essential to becoming an inclusive and ethical leader. That’s a question that should be confronted with courage and careful self-reflection. I have some advice on how to respond below, but first, let’s take the application questions from the top.

Short Answer Question:

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

The Admissions team wants you to be direct, succinct, and demonstrate direction (ambition is good, but be realistic). This is an opportunity to provide a clear, overarching headline that lays the groundwork for subsequent essays that cover your career goals and reasons for pursuing the Columbia MBA.

Note that the question asks about your goal; it’s subtly asking what you envision doing, rather than the position you hope to secure in a specific company. A strong answer will indicate what you hope to achieve in a sector, such as ‘consultant focusing on clean technology’ or ‘structure investment deals in real estate.’

There is no right answer here, but whatever you choose should be coherent and credible based on your past experience, bolstered by the Columbia MBA. Columbia is looking to see that you know what you want to do, have a general understanding of that role, and that you understand the paths that would be available to you coming out of Columbia.

Essay 1 Tips

Essay 1 remains the same:

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

My advice: be sure to focus on the future and how CBS will get you there. A common mistake here is to write about where you have been rather than where you are going. CBS specifically asks what your future career goals are, and so a substantial portion of the word count should specifically address short- and long-term goals (at least 250 words, if not more).

It often helps to start with a brief hook to show what inspires you to take the path that you will then lay out. It can be a brief anecdote, a quote, a reflection on something that happened in your past, and so on. Then, it helps to offer a (very brief) paragraph explaining what you have done on that career path to date, just to put a bit more context around the goals you will then introduce.

Short-term goals can be more specific than long-term goals. You certainly need to have a general idea of what you would like to do in the long term, but the admissions committee is not expecting the same level of detail about where you will be decades from now as they are for the immediate post-MBA goals. Again, CBS is looking to see that you have a clear understanding of where a CBS MBA can take you (and then essay 3 will show how the MBA will help you get there).

The New Essay 2

A question about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you has been replaced with this question used a few years ago:

The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias and Prejudice, Managing Intercultural Dialogue, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking.

Tell us about a time when you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

The switch seems to reflect the importance CBS places on its values of diversity, inclusion, and equity and the importance of explicitly cultivating the specific skills that ethical, inclusive leaders need.

Here, you have wide flexibility and latitude in your response.  After all, there are five specific skills to choose from, and you can, of course, address several. That offers many ways to highlight ways you’ve engaged in one of five themes and how it impacted you and others. Your response should identify one meaningful example from your career or experiences, and then extract lessons learned that showcase the kind of person you are and leader you hope to be.

Implicit in this prompt is a question about your knowledge of and your commitment to CBS. Your answer should also communicate how you will develop and practice these skills at CBS. It’s important to show how you will engage with the very diverse and global community at CBS and how you will add value.

Channel your authenticity and courage to show how you have already engaged this capacity — and then make clear where you hope to let it shine at CBS.

I repeat: Show, don’t tell.  Give us the scene, then tie the story to what the implications are for your future. Self-reflection is essential here: Remember that diversity and inclusion can be about race and ethnicity, but also gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, or different viewpoints, ideas, or experiences. Show how are you questioning the status quo, inviting diverse perspectives, and cultivating awareness of the less visible forces that shape decision-making and group dynamics?

Essay 3 Tips

This prompt is the classic “why our MBA?” essay question, with a new, shorter word limit this year:

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, cocurricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (250 words)

Here, you need to explain why CBS is uniquely positioned to help you achieve your goals. It is a great opportunity to demonstrate that you have done your homework, assessed your fit with the school, and are eager to attend Columbia. You should showcase your deep knowledge of the school and the engagement that you’ve had with members of the Columbia community.

The framing of the question once again encourages you to demonstrate your readiness to be an inclusive leader. Again, this will require some self-reflection and honesty, to authentically show how your experiences and strengths prepare you to connect to Columbia’s values related to collaboration, mentorship, and DEI. Be sure to explain how and where you will contribute to the CBS community.

Even though it isn’t directly in the essay prompt (as it has been in previous years), you should still explain not only why Columbia’s campus life and leadership culture is right for you, but also why want to pursue the MBA in New York City, because the city, as a global center of business, is such an integral part of the Columbia experience.

Additional Essay Advice

A few final details are worth noting.

  • CBS offers an optional essay as an opportunity to share any other information you wish with the Admissions Committee (maximum 500 words). This space could be used 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.
  • Essay word limits are not absolute; since you upload essays as a .pdf file, the word count is not a hard cap. However, we advise you to stay within the recommendation.
  • Deferred admissions applicants answer two different essays: Why are you interested in obtaining a Columbia MBA in the future? (300 words maximum); and Who is a leader you admire, and why? (300 words maximum).
  • Reapplicants submit just one essay response to this question:

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate how you plan to achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA professional goals (maximum 500 words).

Want more advice? 

For everything you need to know about how to get into the Columbia MBA program, from program basics and admissions requirements to our team’s insider tips for admission success, read my related blog: How to Get Into Columbia Business School: MBA Application Requirements . You can also view Fortuna’s  Columbia MBA B-School Profile.

You can also view Fortuna’s M7 Admissions Masterclass below, which offers a deep dive on the Columbia MBA and how to position a standout application.

Let’s Get You In.

Fortuna Admissions is a dream team of former MBA Admissions Directors and Officers from the world’s most elite business schools, including the Columbia MBA program. With our unparalleled collective expertise, we are able to coach you to develop a clear vision of your goals for business school and beyond. We work closely with you throughout the application process and provide expert guidance at every stage to maximize your chances of admission to a top school.

Our free consultations are consistently rated as the best in the industry. To learn more about Fortuna and assess your chances of admission to CBS and other top programs, request a  free consultation .

Updated May 30, 2022

Fortuna Admissions Expert Coach Karen Hamou is a Columbia MBA alum and former Deloitte Consulting recruiting lead, as well  as well as #2 ranked consultant globally in Poets & Quants list of the Top 20 MBA Admissions Consultants of 2021. For more free advice and a personal, candid assessment of your chances, you can sign up now for a  free consultation .

  • Posted on June 3, 2023

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Columbia Business School MBA Application Updates: 2023-2024

Columbia University Business School campus

It is time to get started on your  Columbia Business School application as the Columbia MBA essay questions for class of 2026 business school hopefuls were just released.

Columbia Business School has made some big changes for 2023-2024 MBA Applicants (applying for August 2024 Entry), removing the rolling and binding early-decision process and moving to a more traditional rounds model. 

Note: for candidates applying for January 2024 entry, the application process will continue to be rolling, with a deadline of 9/13/2023.

The 2023-2024 Columbia Business School MBA Application Deadlines are as follows:   

Round 1: September 13, 2023

Round 2: January 5, 2024

Round 3: April 3, 2024

While submitting a round 1 application is non-binding, applicants will be required to submit a $6,000 deposit to accept their offer.

Read Personal MBA Coach’s Top Tips for Tackling Columbia Business School’s Essays Below!

The Columbia MBA essays changed for 2023-2024 applicants

  • Essay 1 remains unchanged
  • Essay 2 is new (though this question was an option for 2021-2022 applicants)
  • Last year’s essay 2 is now Essay 3, with a shorter 250-word limit.

Given Columbia Business School’s rolling admissions, getting an early start is particularly crucial.

The three questions together will prompt MBA candidates to cover a wide range of information about their professional goals, plans on campus, personal stories and leadership styles.

Avoid repeating yourself while ensuring that the three Columbia essays work together to paint an accurate and consistent picture of your candidacy.

Columbia MBA Essay Question 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words maximum)

Columbia specifically asks that candidates not repeat their resumes in this career goals question. While some mention of your professional past is still expected, it should be brief and used as context to further elaborate on why your goals are attainable. This question explicitly asks for both a short-term goal and a long-term dream job so be sure to include both.

According to Nicole Shay, former Columbia Business School Admissions Director: “Your goal should be pragmatic. The committee will be asking themselves: ‘Given the applicant’s work experience + the resources/opportunities at CBS, will this applicant be successful in achieving their short-term goal?’”

In addition, your goals should show a logical progression from your current experiences. If they do not, then a brief explanation is a good idea so that the admissions committee can understand how you will realistically attain your goals.

Discussing your long-term dream job is an opportunity to show the admissions committee your true ambitions and what really matters to you professionally. It is important that candidates have lofty goals here but ones that make sense for them and fit with both their short-term goals and overall story. This is a unique chance not only to show how you envision your career unfolding, but also to give the reader a little more insight into who you are by adding at least a brief mention of why this career interests you.

Finally, while not explicitly asked, a bit on how you will prepare for these goals while at Columbia would serve as a nice conclusion.

Columbia MBA Essay Question 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias and Prejudice, Managing Intercultural Dialogue, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking.

Tell us about a time when you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

This new second essay directly addresses a topic that continually is top of mind for nearly all top business schools. When it was asked during the 2021-2022 application cycle, it was not required for all candidates and we recognize that some applicants may struggle to answer this question.

With a very short word limit, it is crucial to be very direct in sharing the circumstances, your actions and the result. There is no room for fluff here. Similarly, do not force this essay and be sure your story is authentic. You may need to consider DEI a bit more broadly and that is ok.

Columbia MBA Essay Question 3: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our  clusters and learning teams , an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our  Executives-in-Residence program .

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

This question takes a direct approach to addressing fit. During some previous cycles, CBS has asked candidates about their desire to be in New York City. While the current prompt addresses fit more broadly, mentioning how you plan to leverage the city would still be advised here.

With only 250 words and a lot to cover, it is important to be focused and specific. Show that you have done your research on what options are available on campus and which specifically interest you. Naturally, a tie should be made between these opportunities and your career goals.

According to Nicole: “In this essay, the committee is looking for which resources you are going to utilize to achieve your short-term goal and fulfill your social/cultural needs/interests. However, they are also looking at how you are going to contribute to the CBS community.”

This is the time to discuss the classes you hope to take, clubs you will join and other programs of interest to you, such as speaker series or immersion seminars. While we have always recommended that candidates consider culture as they answer this question (which, as we have shared in the past, is becoming increasingly important to many top business schools) this year CBS explicitly asks applicants to speak to why the CBS culture is a good fit. Be sure that you have done your research on CBS and its culture and community. Find out more about what sets CBS apart by visiting our CBS school guide. Plus, watch Personal MBA Coach’s Nicole Shay’s  exclusive interview  with former colleague and current CBS Adcom Director, Jordan Blitzer. Get insider information about CBS including what Jordan wishes applicants would do differently, what is new on campus and common misconceptions about CBS. This is a must see for prospective CBS students.

columbia-business-school-mba-essays

Finally, Columbia has an optional essay. As we advise for most schools, do not feel compelled to answer this unless you have something specific to explain in your background (e.g., a career gap, an unusual recommender, extreme personal circumstances, etc.) This is not the time to spend 500 words professing your love for Columbia.

Considering Columbia Business School? Find out how Personal MBA Coach’s clients are generally some of the first to get accepted into CBS (with leading scholarship $’s).

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June 8, 2023

Columbia Business School MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines [2023-2024], Class Profile

columbia mba essay sample

Columbia Business School (CBS) has made some big changes for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle! CBS will now consider applications in three rounds, rather than on a rolling basis. In another move, CBS has ended its Early Decision program. Finally, CBS has changed two of its essay prompts to focus on inclusive leadership and how you will contribute to the CBS experience. 

What do these changes mean for you? By moving to the rounds system, Columbia will no longer favor early birds in its historic “first come, first serve” rolling admissions process. Rounds will give the adcom a better chance to compare applicants in a big pool against one another. That’s why you’ll need to work even harder to justify why you deserve a place at CBS and explain what you will contribute to the MBA experience there.  

Ready to get to work on your CBS application? Read on.

Columbia Business School application essay tips

Columbia business school application deadlines, columbia business school class profile.

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays (source: CBS website ).

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

Note that this has a CHARACTER (rather than word) limit. Your response must be significantly shorter than a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA? 

Warning: This question is not asking about your intended area of study while in business school or about a nonprofessional goal or even about a long-term goal. And the subject in your response is assumed to be you, so you  by including or starting with “I” or “I plan to….”

Succinctly define your goal in terms of function (what you want to do) and the industry (or type of company) in which you want to do it.

Columbia Business School Essay #1

Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Columbia adcom readers must really like the answers they get to this question, because it’s back this year and has been a part of CBS’ application for the last several years. CBS wants you to focus on your career goals not immediately after graduation, as in the short-answer question, but in the medium and long term. The adcom wants to see how you believe your career will develop after your first post-MBA job. Note that this question DOES NOT ask you how CBS will help you achieve your goals.

To respond to this essay question, realize that the . Don’t repeat “your professional path to date.” That would be a waste of valuable essay real estate and would mean you’d neither be telling the adcom anything new nor answering their question. Instead, describe what you want to do three to five years in the future, which should build on what you have stated for your first post-MBA job. Make sure to answer the long-term question and feel free to dream and aspire, but at the same time, reveal a feasible professional goal.

Let CBS see that you have a purposeful and exciting direction in mind for your future – a future that will transform you into a graduate they will be proud of.

Columbia Business School Essay #2

The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to develop as inclusive leaders. Through various resources and programming, the goal is for students to explore and reflect during their educational journey on the following five inclusive leadership skills: Mitigating Bias and Prejudice; Managing Intercultural Dialogue; Addressing Systemic Inequity; Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking; and Creating an Inclusive Environment. 

Describe a time or situation when you had the need to utilize one of more of these five skills, and tell us the actions you took and the outcome. (250 words)

For this essay, you’ll have just a few words with which to describe some big ideas. A superior result will come after you do your research and some deep thinking.

First, get to know the PPIL initiative . CBS describes the PPIL as “a one-of-a kind diversity, equity, and inclusion requirement.” It’s become a mandated part of the CBS experience. 

Second, reflect on your personal experiences. You can write about a situation at work, during a volunteer stint, or in any other social situation where you acted with inclusive leadership. 

The best examples will demonstrate how you were inquisitive, reflective, and if necessary, willing to create change within institutions or hierarchies for a more inclusive environment. 

Columbia has offered five topics from which you can choose and must expand on in your essay. Because of the word limit, selecting just one or two is better than trying to address all five. 

Third, organize your thoughts into a narrative. It’s useful to use the SOAR or SOAR + L framework to tell your story:

S = Situation. What was the situation you were presented with, and who were the people involved?

O = Obstacle. What was the obstacle or problem you faced?

A = Action. What considerations did you make, and how did you ultimately decide to act?

R = Result. What were the results of your actions?

+L = Learning. If you have space, you can summarize what you learned about the importance of acting as a leader on this issue. 

Remember, don’t worry that the best essays will come from people who have started or joined formal diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in their workplace. Individual, one-on-one experiences outside of an institutional framework can be just as powerful, or even more so. 

Columbia Business School Essay #3

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

This essay is your opportunity to prove to the adcom that you have done your research, and you’re convinced that CBS is THE best MBA program for you.

To prepare for this essay, think about your career goals. What do you need to learn to achieve them? Think about your learning style. Do you thrive in a lecture hall or in small groups? Finally, what do you like to do socially, and how do you best make friends? 

Next, take time to review the curriculum – even go a step further and map out your ideal class schedule based on required core classes and possible electives . Consider also the Executives-in-Residence program, which offers one-of-a-kind access to C-suite mentors. What challenges do you anticipate you’ll encounter in the future that these classes and mentors will empower you to address? You could also consider how you would make the most of access to specialized centers focused on entrepreneurship , real estate , or investing at Columbia. 

Finally, decide how you will contribute to the CBS student experience. Look through the clubs that are available, and come up with ideas about how you could have an impact in one or more of them. Do you want to have an international experience ? Mention skill sets you’ve developed in your past, and discuss how you could apply them at Columbia to help organize and enrich the campus experience for everyone. 

Now that you’ve done your research, dive right in and get to the point. You only have 250 words! Give yourself loosely 75 words for each focus area: academic, social, and professional. This means you can’t cram in everything you’ve discovered, so be selective. Choose aspects of the CBS program that will have the most impact on your future and where you will have the most impact.

Columbia Business School optional essay

If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

The CBS optional essay is specifically for you to “address areas of concern.” If you don’t have areas of concern, don’t write an essay. However, if you had a dip in grades, a period of unemployment, or some other issue that you want to address, this is your opportunity to do so. You don’t want the admissions committee guessing as to why something is the way it is and coming to the wrong conclusion. 

Don’t even think of using this essay as a grand finale or wrap-up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend you’re your required essays should make those reasons perfectly clear.

For expert guidance on your CBS application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages that include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the CBS application. Looking to score some scholarship money while you’re at it? Explore our services for more information on how Accepted can help you get into Columbia.

Watch our webinar and learn how to Get Accepted to Columbia Business School!

Source: CBS website

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with CBS directly to verify its essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***

Here’s a look at the CBS MBA class entering 2022 from the  Columbia Business School website:

Applications received:  6,177

Admissions:  1,363

Enrolled:  844, divided into 12 clusters

  • January entry class size: 215, divided into 3 clusters
  • August entry class size: 629, divided into 9 clusters

GMAT score (average): 729

GMAT scores (range): 550-780

GMAT scores (middle 80%): 700-760

Undergraduate GPA (average): 3.6

Undergraduate GPA (middle 80%): 3.1-3.9 Work experience (average): 5 years

Work experience (middle 80%): 3-8 years

At least one year of work experience: 99%

Average age: 28

Age range: 21-44

Age range (middle 80%): 25-31

Minority of U.S. origin: 42%

International citizens: 51%

Undergraduate major:

  • Business: 33%
  • Economics: 20%
  • Engineering: 16%
  • Social Sciences: 12%
  • Sciences: 8%
  • Humanities: 6%
  • Technology: 2%

Previous industries:

  • Financial Services: 29%
  • Consulting: 22%
  • Marketing/Media: 11%
  • Technology: 9%
  • Real Estate: 5%
  • Healthcare: 5%
  • Military/Government: 5%
  • Nonprofit 4%

Is CBS the right school for you? These resources can help you decide:

  • An MBA’s Perspective on Columbia Business School – podcast Episode 373
  • Which MBA Program is Right for Me? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an MBA Program
  • M7 MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know in 2022
  • Deferred MBA Programs and Other Options for MBA Hopefuls With No Work Experience

Over 6,000 applications, and only 1,363 accepted at CBS last year. How can you ensure your application stands out from the crowd? Check out these resources for expert advice:

  • Get Accepted to CBS Webinar
  • AMA Session with Columbia Business School Director of Admissions Michael Robinson
  • Applicants that Stand Out at Columbia Business School
  • Columbia Executive MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines

Getting into Columbia Business School takes a special combination of an outstanding application, an extraordinary essay, and an incredible interview. Check out our MBA Services Packages to work one-on-one with our expert admissions consultants. We can help you GET ACCEPTED!

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Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.  Want Michelle to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

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How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay—With Examples

The MBA essay is critical to your business school application. Read our guide to writing the perfect MBA essay, with successful admit examples.

Posted April 4, 2024

columbia mba essay sample

Featuring Karla M.

From Waitlisted to Admitted: Insider Tips for MBA Admissions

Tuesday, april 9.

6:00 PM UTC · 60 minutes

What is the MBA Essay?

The MBA admissions essay.

Those words alone are enough to make most MBA candidates run screaming. Writing in general is hard enough. Writing about why you want an MBA? Your short-term goals and career aspirations? What matters to you most, and why? Forget it.

Of course, you still have to write these essays.

The MBA essay is perhaps  the most important part of the business school application. (It's also getting more and more important by the day, with some business schools moving away from traditional, quantitative measuring sticks, like the GMAT and the GRE.) Every other part of the application — your GPA, your test scores, your letters of recommendation — are quantified, cut and dried, or out of your control. The essay is your chance to show up as a fully realized MBA candidate, with hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities. Admissions committees are not simply assessing your candidacy as a future leader — they're looking to admit human beings. That's where the MBA applicant essays come in.

That being the case, rather than being intimidated by it, treat the essay like the opportunity that it is — the chance for you to highlight your unique, iridescent self; the only moment in the MBA admissions process (prior to the interview) when you can speak directly to the admissions officers; the time when you'll show them who you really are. It's not easy to write something that will do that, of course, but with the tips and tricks in this guide, and some help from one of Leland's vetted, world-class admissions coaches, we know you can do it. Give the essay the time, attention, and respect it deserves, and you'll be on your way to an offer of admission at your dream school.

Without further ado, let's dive in!

columbia mba essay sample

Ultimate MBA Essay Guide

See the MBA essay prompts, top tips from experts, and real examples from admits with this comprehensive guide.

How Long Will My MBA Essay Take?

First thing's first: let's talk about timing.

The MBA application is a behemoth; between exams, resumes, gathering your official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and the applications themselves, there's a lot to juggle. That being the case, we suggest you give yourself ample time to draft, write, and revise your essays. The last thing you want is to be rushed to the finish line.

So, give yourself  at least three months to write your MBA essays. That should allow you ample time to draft, write, and edit. For more information on timing your entire b-school application, click here for  A Comprehensive MBA Application Timeline--With Chart .

Now, on to the critical question:

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What Makes a Great MBA Essay?

At the highest level, the answer is the one that is truest to you. The whole point of these essays is to shine through as an authentic, vibrant human being, so the best essays are the ones that cut through the clutter, and allow you do to that.

Which begs the question — how  do you cut through the clutter and shine through as a vibrant human being? Here are four critical tips to follow as you begin thinking about your essays.

1. Answer the Question

This one sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many applicants launch into their story, get carried away, and forget to answer the question. Follow the prompt, and answer the question the admissions committee has asked you. Those prompts can actually be very useful when writing your essays — it's a great deal harder to write when you have no guidance or guardrails. With the MBA essays, you have a very specific question you need to answer. So answer it!

2. Be Specific

Another mistake some MBA applicants make is to stay at a high level in their essays, keeping their writing abstract and therefore inaccessible to the admissions committee. If at any point, an admissions officer could replace your name with the name of another applicant, then your essay isn't getting deep enough. It's not enough, for instance, to say that you suffered adversity in high school, or that you really, really want a Wharton MBA. You need to explain, in detail, the adversity you faced, and give concrete and unique reasons why you think Wharton is the right program for you. The best essays offer hyper-specific examples and anecdotes, with details and anecdotes that no other candidate could bring to the table. To get those anecdotes, we recommend using the STAR template, as explained below:

  • Situation : What was the situation you were facing? Where were you? How old were you? If you were in a professional role during this anecdote, what was the role, and how long had you been in it? If you were volunteering, at what organization? How long had you been volunteering there? Why did you start? Offer all the relevant information that the admissions readers will need to understand your story.
  • Task : What was the task at hand? What went wrong? In your professional role, what was the challenge you faced? In that volunteering experience, what were the hurdles you had to overcome? You can't have a good story without conflict or tension, so after you set up the anecdote, explain what that conflict or tension was (and remember, be specific!).
  • Action : What was the action you took to resolve the problem? What did you have to do to fix that issue at work? How did you clear that hurdle in your volunteer experience? Again, be specific about how you came through on the other side of that conflict/tension — and while you're doing it, highlight your leadership capabilities as much as possible! Remember that top MBA programs are looking for future leaders who can assess a situation and decisively take action. (We'll say a bit more about this below, in the Personal Statement section.
  • Result : What was the result of your action? If you were facing a growth problem at work, were you able to increase sales? If so, by what percentage? If you were advocating for diversity and inclusion at your local charity, what new programs did you implement to help with that effort, and what was the enrollment like in those new programs? Detail what happened in your anecdote with as much specificity as possible — and quantify, quantify, quantify!

3. Get Vulnerable

Most MBA admissions essay prompts are written with the goal of getting to know as much about you as possible in the shortest number of words. To do that, you're going to have to share real things from your life — to get personal, intimate, and vulnerable. Do not shy away from this. If you're starting to get emotional during the reflection, drafting, and writing process, good — that means you're on the right track. Keep going. Pro tip: If it’s making you cry, it will make them cry. Another good rule of thumb is to put something real and true on the table. Admissions officers have to read literally thousands of applications from thoroughly qualified individuals, some of whom might come from similar roles to yours, with letters of recommendation from equally impressive supervisors. In order to cut through that noise, you'll have to share something honest. If you're doing it right, this can feel risky. At some point, you’ll likely think to yourself: “Can I say that?” The answer is: “Yes.” Of course, there is a line, you don’t want to be crass or offensive but err on the side of being open and authentic. The very worst thing you can do is be overly cautious, and write something you think will please the admissions committee. These poor people have to read thousands of essays. If yours is just like everyone else’s, they’ll fall asleep. Don’t let that happen. Wake them up by putting yourself —your true, bright, vibrant, quirky self—on the page.

4. Don't Exaggerate

Finally, do not exaggerate, over-inflate, or lie. This goes without saying, but admissions committees are looking for honest candidates. The surest way to get rejected is to lie about something. (Business schools do a background check on you before you're properly admitted, so they will find out.) Don't be the person who over-inflates on their essays, then has their offer letter rescinded.

The Types of MBA Essays

All right — since we've covered high-level approaches to the MBA essays, it's time to dig into the various types.

There are three general categories of MBA essays you'll see across the board.

1. Personal Statement

These questions ask you to offer up something sincere about yourself. They'll often touch on such things as your values and your character. In these, you'll want to be as authentic as possible, while also highlighting attributes like leadership, intellectual vitality, and teamwork, that business schools are looking for. Here are a few examples of personal statement essays:

  • 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? (HBS)
  • What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford GSB)

2. Why an MBA/Why This School

The next category of essays is the "Why an MBA" / "Why This School" set.

In these, schools first want to hear about how an MBA will fit into your career, both short and long term. Top MBA programs are looking for candidates who will: first of all, be gainfully employed upon graduating, second of all, have an illustrious career that will make their institution look good and encourage future generations of applicants to apply, and third, be consistent and generous donors. That being the case, they want to know about your career trajectory, and how an MBA will fit into it.

Pro tip: Here, you want to be ambitious and inspiring in laying out your future career, but not naïve. Walk the line between shooting for the stars and sounding dreamlike and uninformed.

In this set of questions, you'll also encounter questions geared at figuring out why you would want to attend a specific school. MBA programs want to know that you're serious about attending their school — yield, or the percentage of admitted candidates who accept their offers of admission, is an important metric for them — but they also want to envision how you'll contribute to their admitted class. What will you uniquely bring to the table, the things that you'll do that the other candidates wouldn’t be able to offer?

We've heard former deans of business schools say that, in choosing a class, they're curating a world-class dinner party, and that each person invited to the dinner party has to bring something different. What will you bring to the dinner party?

Pro tip: To demonstrate that you've done your research, and to help the admissions committee envision you in their program, indicate which classes you might take when earning your MBA and why, which professors you might hope to study with, and in which clubs you might participate.

Here are a few examples of "why MBA / why this school" essays:

  • How is a Columbia MBA going to help you? (Columbia)
  • What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (Wharton)
  • Why Stanford? Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. (Stanford GSB)

3. Behavioral/Other

Finally, most other essays will either be behavioral, asking you about experiences, traits, strengths, weaknesses, and achievements. There's a wide variety of topics here, but all the guidelines from above apply, with the final note to always prioritize authenticity (as mentioned in the Personal Statement section) and leadership ability (remember, business schools are choosing future leaders). Here are a few examples of behavioral/other essays:

  • Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (Yale SOM)
  • Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (Columbia)
  • 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? (Stanford GSB)

Top MBA Program Essay Prompts (Updated 2022)

To help you get started, we've compiled the required prompts from a few top MBA programs below:

1. Harvard Business School (HBS)

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? (900 words)

For more information, visit A Guide to the HBS Essay .

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

What matters to you most, and why? (650 words)

Why Stanford? (400 words)

Read What Matters Most When Writing the GSB Essays.

How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

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)

For Wharton-specific advice, visit A Guide to the Wharton Essays .

4. Columbia Business School

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a new co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Managing Difficult Conversations. Tell us about a time you were challenged around one of these five skills. Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)

Essay 3: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams , an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program .Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

5. Chicago Booth

How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of your career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (250-word minimum)

Read more at A Guide to the Booth Essays .

6. Kellogg Northwestern

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)

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

Read How to Nail Your Kellogg MBA Application Essays

7. MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity, respect, and passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence, include one or more professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation)

Applicants are required to upload a 1 minute (60 seconds) video as part of their application. In your video, you should introduce yourself to your future classmates, tell us about your past experiences, and touch on why MIT Sloan is the best place for you to pursue your degree.

How to Start Your MBA Essay

So you've read about the types of essays, and seen some of the prompts from top MBA programs. Now it's time to actually start diving into the essay.

The very first thing to do, before putting pen to paper, is to look inward.

Why do  you want an MBA? What role will this degree play in your professional growth? How do you imagine it will shape your life? What do you want out of your career? What is the most important thing in the world to you?

Yes, these are life’s deep-end questions, but you’ll need to tackle them in these essays, so before you start writing, take the time to think through them. Go for a run, swim some laps, bake a cake—however you get into the flow — and start a dialogue with yourself. Put down your work, turn your phone off, and give your mind permission to go to the places it usually avoids. That’s a good place to start. That’s where the answers are.

Pro tip: The first sentence is the hardest one to write. When you're starting out if it can intimidating and anxiety-producing. The trick is to simply put  anything  down — and don't look back. Keep putting one sentence after the other. You can edit later: let whatever comes to you out onto the page. If you’re struggling with self-critique, dim your computer screen until you can’t even see the words you’re typing. Then keep going.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Once you've started your essay, it's a matter of persistence: keep writing, then keep drafting and editing until you have something you're really proud of.

To help you with that process, here are a few more tips and tricks:

  • Take Breaks

When you hit the wall — you will hit the wall — stop. This is your brain telling you it needs to do something else. Walk your dog. Take a lap around your room. Eat some cheese. Your body needs sleep every night to function; your mind is the same way. That next leap of inspiration will come exactly at the moment when you’re least expecting it.

  • Read it Out Loud

When you finally have a draft, print it and read it out loud to yourself. Your ear will catch things your eyes miss. Reading out loud is the best way to pick up on spelling errors, clunky transitions, and paragraphs that still need ironing out. It’s also a good way to envision how the admissions committee will experience your essay.

Don’t be precious with your essay. Send it to anyone willing to read it. Solicit as much feedback as you can. If you don’t like what people have to say, you don’t have to incorporate it, but you need an impartial third party to give notes on what they’re seeing, thinking, and feeling. (You’re too close to things to do it for yourself.) This is where a Leland coach comes very much in handy!

  • Complete Everything Early

This is more of a timing consideration, but you do not want to trip at the finish line because your internet went down the night before the deadline, or your credit card was denied when paying your application fee (it's happened before). Don't let that be you!

Here is another article to get you started, written by an expert essays coach: 7 MBA Essay Tips to Make You Stand Out in 2022 .

Example MBA Essays

Finally, here are two essays to help inspire you. The first, a personal statement essay, was submitted by an admit to Berkeley Haas' Executive MBA program; the second, a career goals / why MBA essay, was submitted by an admit to Chicago Booth's deferred MBA program.

Haas Admit:

A person’s identity is shaped by many different aspects, including family, culture, personal interests, and surrounding environments. Please share a facet of your identity or story that is essential to who you are. (300 words) My upbringing in India, filled with countless myths and legends, had a profound influence on me. The most formative tale was about a sage who prays for years to the goddess of knowledge, but in vain. In the end, the goddess didn’t appear for the sage because he was turning his prayer beads the wrong way! As a child, this story upset me: the sage worked so hard and had the right intentions. As an adult, though, I’ve come to realize that the goddess of knowledge was right: you can’t succeed unless you do things the right way. Seven years ago, two friends and I started a company, XXXX: a digital health platform that would allow patients to store medical records online and consult doctors remotely. We had early success—we brought on 2,000 patients at XXXX, a gynecology clinic in XXXX—but ultimately we didn’t have the resources to properly scale, and had to shut the company down. Among the many lessons I learned, the most valuable was that ideas and hard work are common; businesses succeed or fail based on execution—on doing things the right way. Two years ago, I relearned this lesson in the most painful way possible: when my marriage ended. My wife and I loved each other, but we weren’t there for each other when it mattered most. Our feelings weren’t enough—we had to back them up with the right actions. It’s disheartening when you have good intentions but still fall short. When this happens, though, you have to keep trying—because eventually you will do things the right way. I carry the story of the sage with me always, not as a harsh lesson, but as a motivating goal: one that keeps me striving towards doing things the right way.

Booth Admit:

How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)
I want to start a geothermal company that will help lead the energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy—by targeting existing oil wells as sites for geothermal plants. Oil fields are close to electric grids and have high nearby subsurface temperatures, making them ideal sites for geothermal plants. By building geothermal infrastructure nearby, my company will produce cleaner, cheaper energy, making it more profitable for operators to switch from oil to geothermal. As oil companies decommission their wells, I’ll negotiate for their land rights, so I can use their existing wells for new geothermal vents. I want my company to prove the case for economically viable, carbon neutral energy production. After getting an MBA I want to start a geothermal company which will help me lead the energy transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. I plan to target developed oil fields in Texas, where, in many places, producing wells are flowing enough hot fluid to generate clean energy. Using this geothermal heat, the carbon footprint of oil and gas extraction will decrease as fewer fossil fuels are utilized to power surrounding infrastructure. As the wells approach their economic life, I will negotiate the lease from various operators, saving them millions in plug and abandonment costs, and retrofit the wells for direct geothermal energy production via closed loop binary fluid systems, bringing emissions to zero. To accomplish this goal, I need to shore up my knowledge of energy economics and entrepreneurial finance, develop a strong sense of leadership, and build a network of like minded individuals that will help me lead the transition and I believe I can get those things at Chicago Booth. My immediate career goal is to develop my first co-production site in Shelby County, Texas at the Blanton well site, which produces abnormally heated fluid from the flanks of an active salt dome. Before investing in capital expenditures, developing a strong sense of energy economics and broader markets is necessary to verify financial feasibility. University of Chicago, through the Graduate-Student-At-Large: Business program, is already allowing me to accomplish this goal with my enrollment in “Microeconomics” with Professor Andrew McClellan. His instruction helped me understand the impact taxes and subsidies have on market equilibrium, an important aspect of renewable energy as green energy tax incentives continue to change on a yearly basis. As my company continues to grow, having a strong finance and accounting foundation is imperative to building and sustaining a healthy company. Electives such as “Accounting for Entrepreneurship: From Start-Up through IPO” will provide the skills I need to be successful by following the life-cycle of a business that originates as a start-up, and covers topics such as building an initial accounting infrastructure. I understand that execution of the business is as important as developing the idea and proof of concept, and Booth is the best place for me to develop financial fluency. Leading the energy transition will require a strong sense of leadership. Not only will I need to lead those I get to work with over my career, but to lead the energy transition, and reverse the impact fossil fuels have had thus far, I must have the emotional intelligence to inspire others to join me in my journey. The “Interpersonal Dynamics” course at Booth will allow me to develop my communication skills and better understand the emotions and perceptions of my colleagues. These skills, synthesized with leadership development acquired in “Leadership Practicum” will prepare me to act as a relational leader, who understands the needs of others. As a relational leader I hope to foster an environment which promotes happiness, and maximizes efficiency, not only to make our efforts in changing the world more successful, but to excite other people to join our cause.
To find the greatest chance of success in leading the energy transition, I will need a network of like-minded individuals who can provide a diversity of thought. Chicago Booth provides the opportunity to develop that network through different community experiences. The Energy Club’s “Energy Forward” conference, which designates time to topics in oil and gas and renewable energy will allow me to hear from industry leaders, build meaningful relationships with peers and contribute my sector experience to the public forum as I learn from those around me. Opportunities through the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Group such as “SeedCon” will help me connect with successful entrepreneurs and early-stage investors whose ideas and funding might change the course of my venture’s trajectory. Even in the GSALB program I have had the opportunity to connect with other students in various sectors, including the energy industry. I hope to continue to strengthen those connections and continue building new ones with matriculation into the full time program.

Here are several other articles that you may find helpful as you put together your MBA application:

  • The Most Frequently Asked Questions on MBA Applications
  • How to Answer the "Why an MBA?" Essay Question
  • My Top Piece of Advice for MBA Applicants
  • How I Nailed My MBA Interview and Gained Admission to Top 10 Business Schools
  • 4 Expert Tips on Paying for Business School

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20 Great MBA Application Essay Samples (With Links)

Author: Rafal Reyzer

Want to ace your MBA application? A stellar essay can be your golden ticket.

With elite business schools like Harvard and Stanford boasting acceptance rates as low as 10% and 6% respectively, every aspect of your application counts. While GPA and GMAT scores matter, your essay can be a game-changer. Recognizing its weight, we’ve gathered top-notch MBA essay samples, endorsed by admission committees from premier institutions. Dive in and let’s craft that standout application!

What is an MBA Application Essay?

An MBA application essay is a detailed write-up about your personal and professional goals and aspirations. It also explains how the MBA program will help you attain your objectives for the future. Your essay is your one shot to convince the admission committee to consider you for the initial interview.

professor reading an essay of MBA applicant

What Admission Committee Look for in an MBA Essay?

  • Academic ability
  • Impressive work experience
  • Career Course
  • Authenticity of goals
  • Competencies, leadership , dedication, challenges, and growth
  • The right reason for pursuing an MBA
  • Your compatibility with the culture in which the program is being offered

If you want to learn more, here is the complete guide on how admission committees process MBA applications.

20 Great MBA Applications Essays Samples

Now you have known that what makes a great MBA admission essay, the next step is to write one for yourself. Before writing, check out this list of expert-vetted MBA application essays that secured admissions to top-rated business schools in the world. Admission consultants have shared these samples and they can be helpful if you read and analyze them carefully. If you’re completely unsure about how to get started, there are also custom essay writing services that can help you structure your essay with the help of professional editors.

Sample 1: Leadership-focused MBA application essay

This sample is particularly focused on leadership traits. If your essay is about explaining your leadership quality experience, this sample is right up your alley. The best thing about the essay is that it is written in a simple, engaging, and humorous style. It defines a great experience in a very conversational style.

demonstrating leadership quality

Sample 2: Self-focused MBA application essay 

If you are asked to write about your strengths, weaknesses, aims, and goals in your application essay, this sample will help you. The applicant who wrote this got accepted to the INSEAD business school. It doesn’t merely describe her strengths and weaknesses, but it presents a complete picture of herself as a person. It highlighted the events and incidents that shaped her personality.

Sample 3: Life-hardships-focused MBA application essay

If you want to explain your life’s hardships and the events that turned you into an ambitious person, this sample is for you. In this application essay, the candidate has defined three phases of his life and how he survived through each adversity. He beautifully explained why the MBA program is important to his future.

Sample 4: Continuous growth and learning-focused MBA application essay

This essay was submitted to Harvard Business School. The best thing about this piece is that the writer has explained her learning and professional development journey in a very sequential and engaging manner, which is truly admirable. A useful thing to remember about the MBA essays included in this list is that you can merge them into a single printable and perfectly formatted file with Sodapdf or another PDF editor. Having all of them stored in a single PDF is going to be quite helpful when it’s time to write your piece. But guess what? There are more examples to explore below, so let’s keep going…

Sample 5: Best MBA application essay for low scorers

Have a low GPA? What would you write about academics in an MBA essay to convince the admission committee? Do not overthink! MBA essay is not all about high achievements and sterling background. It is also an opportunity to atone for your past mistakes. This MBA essay was written by a student who obtained very low academic grades, yet got admitted to her desired business school. Her turning point? A powerful application essay.

guitarist with a dream

Sample 6: A guitarist’s application essay for the MBA program

Suppose you are ambitious in a skill or profession that has nothing to do with the MBA program, yet you need the degree for certain reasons. How would you showcase that irrelevant skill in your MBA application essay? This sample essay will show how you how. A guitarist who got selected for the MBA program wrote this one. The applicant has intelligently defined his passion for guitar as a way of developing discipline, determination, leadership, and success. He explained how his passion affected his academics and how the guitar helped him cope with the challenges.

Sample 7: An engineer’s essay for MBA application

If you come from a technical or engineering background and have the ambition to pursue an MBA degree to boost your engineering career, this sample essay will help pave the way for you. This essay was submitted by a mechanical engineer to Harvard Business School. The writer explained how his engineering experience motivated him to pursue an MBA and how the program is important to his long-term goals.

harvard university

Sample 8: Harvard Business School MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to Harvard Business School. Check it out to know what the prestigious academic institution looks for in your essay.

Sample 9: Wharton Business School MBA essay

This essay has been honored as one of the best MBA essays ever received by the Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania. Check out the structure, organization, and flow, and adapt the same to your essay.

Sample 10: Columbia Business School MBA essay

The Columbia Business School’s admission committee shared this MBA essay. They explained why the applicant who wrote this was instantly accepted to the program and why they appreciated its content.

Sample 11: Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to Stanford Business School for an MBA. If you are aiming to get your MBA at Stanford, this sample will give you a deep understanding of what convinces the esteemed school’s admission committee to accept applicants into their fold.

Sample 12: University of California Business School MBA essay

This sample was taken from a pool of successful MBA application essays submitted to the University of California business school. Read it carefully and analyze its structure, words, and substance before you compose your own fantastic MBA essay.

aerial photo of oxford university

Sample 13: University of OXFORD business school MBA essay

If Oxford Business School is your target destiny for earning your MBA, then check out this outstanding application essay. The person who wrote it managed to grab the admission committee member’s attention.

Sample 14: London Business School MBA essay

This essay was written by a candidate who got accepted to the London Business School. The school’s admission consultant shared this sample as a reference to other MBA aspirants. This piece will specifically help you understand the tone, writing style, formatting, and overall flow of the MBA application essay that meets the school’s standards.

Sample 15: A goal-oriented MBA application essay

Sometimes the MBA admission portal may demand an essay specifically focused on your future goals. In such a case, you must be very sure about yourself and must convey your goals and future directions based on your experiences and planning. Check out this sample to get an idea of how a successful candidate writes about personal goals.

Sample 16: Executive MBA essay

This successful MBA application essay was submitted to the MIT Sloan Executive MBA Program. EMBA essay requires you to show strong potential, impact, leadership, and the ultimate need for the program. Read this essay if EMBA is on your horizon.

making a video essay

Sample 17: MBA video essay

Many business schools are turning to video-based essays for MBA applications. A video-based essay is a better option to express yourself directly to the admission committee. A successful candidate for the Kellogg School of Management submitted this sample. Listen to the video and appreciate how beautifully the applicant has explained his journey from beginning to end. Want to learn more about video MBA essays? Here is a complete guide.

Sample 18: Short-answer-based MBA application essay

Some business schools require candidates to respond to short questions to get insights into their personalities and suitability for the MBA program. More or less, most of the questions revolve around the same theme. The key to success is to grasp the intention of the admission committee behind the questions and to stick to your identity . These successful answers submitted to the Tepper School of Business will help you in formulating your answers.

Sample 19: MIT Sloan School of Management

This essay was submitted by a successful candidate for the MIT Sloan School of Management MBA program. See how this applicant smartly answered the essay questions.

Sample 20:  Michigan Ross School of Business MBA program

The Michigan Ross Business School asks a diverse range of questions from candidates to analyze their competencies from multiple perspectives. If Michigan Ross is where you intend to get your MBA, this essay submitted by a candidate who got admitted to the school’s MBA program will help keep you on track.

What Should be Included in the MBA Application Essay?

  • Your background: What shaped you into what you are now? Including ethnicity, obstacles, and struggles.
  • Self-reflection: Your values, characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Your goals : How do you envision your future?
  • Aspirations: Why MBA is important to you and how this program will help you in shaping your future?
  • Justification: If you have low academic grades, explain the reasons you did not do well and what you learned from it.
  • Experience and achievements: What have you achieved so far?

These are the significant components of an MBA essay. Just adjust the sequence, play with words, and come up with a persuasive yet realistic picture of yourself.

mba applicant thinking what to write in her essay

What Makes a Great MBA Application Essay?

  • Be school-specific. Explain why you are passionate about the MBA program of the school to which you’re applying.
  • Avoid edition. Write simply and engagingly. Let the reader read a meaningful story about you.
  • Make it 100% typo-free. Grammatical errors and typos will ruin your essay. Apply standard essay format and structure guidelines , scan your piece several times for errors, get it reviewed by an expert, and present a very professional piece to the admission committee.
  • Be original. Do not copy-paste from any source. Strictly follow plagiarism guidelines.
  • Write an overwhelming introduction to urge the reader to keep reading and conclude your essay with a strong declaration.
  • Be authentic. Write what you are, not what the committee wants to read.
  • Be concise, as many schools impose a limit on the essay word count .

Do you want more tips? Here is a complete guide to writing a compelling MBA application essay.

The application essay is a core part of the admission process in the increasingly competitive MBA program. If you do not want to miss the chance of getting selected, you need to know what will make your essay stand out . The expert-vetted list of MBA application essay samples we cited here worked for the top business schools. Learn them by heart, and who knows, it may work for you too. Put your other activities aside, read and analyze the list carefully, and start writing your MBA essay to land in your dream business school.

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  • Aug 11, 2023

MBA Sample Essays: Columbia MBA

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

Columbia MBA application requires four to five essay responses. Below is a compilation of MBA sample essays for Columbia MBA 2023 application cycle.

Columbia MBA Deadlines

2024 intake.

13 September, 2023 (Jan & Aug 2024 Intake)

3 January 2024 (Aug 2024 Intake)

03 Apr 2024 (Aug 2024 Intake)

Columbia MBA Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal?

MBA Sample Essay:

My immediate post-MBA professional goal is to secure a position as a management consultant at a top-tier consulting firm. I am particularly interested in working at a firm that has a strong focus on strategy and business transformation, as I believe that these areas are where I can make the greatest impact and utilize my skills and expertise to the fullest extent. I am drawn to a career in management consulting because I believe that it offers a unique opportunity to work with a diverse range of clients and industries and to be a part of a team that is dedicated to solving complex business challenges and driving positive change. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in the industry, and I am confident that the skills and knowledge I will gain as an MBA student will prepare me to be a valuable contributor to a consulting team. Overall, I believe that a career in management consulting will provide me with the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the business world and to continue learning and growing as a professional. I am excited to pursue this career path and to use my skills and expertise to drive positive change for my clients and organizations.

MBA Sample Essays:

Essay 1 Columbia MBA : Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job?

As a current marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company, my short-term career goals over the next three to five years include continuing to advance within my current organization and expanding my skills and responsibilities. I am particularly interested in exploring new areas of marketing, such as digital and social media marketing, and want to take on more leadership roles within the company. In the long term, my dream job is to become a Chief Marketing Officer at a multinational corporation. I am also committed to staying up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and technologies and believe that an MBA will provide me with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this role. To achieve these goals, I am seeking an MBA from a top-tier business school like [Name of School]. I believe that the program's focus on experiential learning and real-world case studies will provide me with the practical skills and knowledge needed to excel in my career. Additionally, the program's strong alumni network and access to industry leaders will be invaluable in helping me to achieve my long-term career goals.

Essay 2 Columbia MBA:

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally?

MBA Essay sample:

There are several reasons why I feel that Columbia Business School would be an ideal fit for me in terms of academics, culture, and professional development. Specifically, I am particularly attracted to the school's emphasis on experiential learning and the use of real-world case studies as part of its curriculum. I believe that this approach will provide me with the practical skills and knowledge needed to succeed in my career. I am also attracted to the school's diverse course offerings and the opportunity to customize my MBA through the elective curriculum. Culturally, I appreciate the school's diverse and international community. As someone who has lived and worked in several different countries, I value the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with individuals from different backgrounds and cultures. I also believe that the school's location in the heart of New York City, one of the world's leading financial and business hubs, will provide endless opportunities for networking and professional development. I believe that the connections and mentorship opportunities offered by the school will be invaluable in helping me to achieve my long-term career goals. I am also drawn to the school's commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, values that align with my own personal and professional goals. I am confident that the school's rigorous and immersive MBA program will provide me with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in my career.

Essay 3 Columbia MBA:

Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you.

MBA Essay Sample:

My favorite book is "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. What I love about this book is that it encourages the reader to follow their dreams and pursue their passions no matter what obstacles may come their way. It also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and the power of positive thinking. These are lessons that I try to apply in my own life, and reading "The Alchemist" always serves as a reminder to stay true to myself and never give up on my dreams. Another reason that this book resonates with me is because it explores themes of self-discovery and personal growth. Santiago's journey is not just about achieving his external goals, but also about learning more about himself and his own capabilities. This is something that I believe is important for everyone, and reading "The Alchemist" helps me to reflect on my own personal growth and development. Overall, "The Alchemist" is a powerful and inspiring story that has had a lasting impact on me and continues to resonate with me to this day.

Deferred Enrollment Program Columbia MBA:

Essay Question 1

Why are you interested in obtaining a Columbia MBA in the future?

As a dedicated and ambitious professional, I have always been driven to excel in my career and make a meaningful impact in the business world. Over the past several years, I have gained valuable experience in my field, but I have also come to realize that there is always more to learn and ways to improve. The prestige and reputation of Columbia Business School make it a top choice for those seeking to further their education and career prospects. The world-class faculty, diverse student body, and rigorous curriculum all offer unparalleled opportunities for personal and professional growth. The various experiential learning programs, such as the Value Investing Program and the Global Business Experience, provide hands-on opportunities to apply what is learned in the classroom to real business challenges. This practical approach is exactly what I am seeking in an MBA program, as it will allow me to immediately apply my newfound knowledge and skills to my career. Furthermore, the strong alumni network and wide range of partnerships with leading companies make Columbia an ideal place to build my professional network and secure the right opportunities for my future. Overall, I am confident that a Columbia MBA will provide me with the knowledge, skills, and network needed to take my career to the next level and make a meaningful impact in the business world. I am excited about the opportunities and challenges that the program will bring, and I am eager to be a part of the Columbia community."

Question 2 Deferred Enrollment Program Columbia Essay

Who is a leader you admire, and why?

One leader that I admire is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. I have long been impressed by Nadella's ability to navigate the constantly evolving technology industry and drive innovation at a company as large and established as Microsoft. He has actively worked to foster a culture of diversity and inclusivity at Microsoft, recognizing that these values are essential to the company's success. He has also been vocal about the importance of empathy in leadership, believing that it helps leaders understand and connect with their teams and customers. In addition to his focus on empathy and inclusivity, Nadella is also known for his strategic vision and ability to adapt to change. Under his leadership, Microsoft has made significant shifts in its business model, including the transition to a cloud-first, mobile-first focus and the acquisition of LinkedIn. Overall, I admire Nadella's ability to lead with empathy and adaptability, and I believe these qualities make him a valuable role model for any leader.

Contact an admission consultant at GOALisB for assistance with your MBA essay. Whatsapp us at +91 7719497187 or email at [email protected].

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columbia mba essay sample

Columbia Business School #ColumbiaMBA Written Application 

columbia mba essay sample

Information is subject to change. Please verify all data with the schools.

Goal short answer

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

Columbia 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)

Columbia Essay #2

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

Columbia Essay #3

Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

Columbia 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)

Short Answer Question: post-MBA goal  

THE QUESTION

Questions behind the Questions

What job do you hope to have when you graduate?

This is your short-term goal (STG)

Most goals fit into one or more of these three categories: vertical move (CEO), horizontal move (career changer), start-up (entrepreneur)

My assumption: Admissions Committee readers prefer goals that are both realistic and ambitious

Are you trying to use your MBA to change careers, or advance your current career?

My assumption: Most short term goals fit into one or more of these three categories

1. Are you trying to move up in your current industry? (vertical move)

Move towards a C-suite office (CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO, etc.)

2. Are you trying to change your career? (horizontal move)

Go into financial services

Go into consulting

Go into consumer goods / marketing

Go into technology

Go into media / entertainment

Go into non-profit / social ventures

3. Are you trying to join or launch a start-up? (entrepreneur)

Are you thinking of joining a startup?

Are you thinking of creating a new business by yourself or with others?

Which of these three are you pursuing?

Are you ambitious yet realistic?

If you are seen as a "triple jumper," you might be too ambitious

A triple jumper expects to change country, industry and function  

Meanwhile, if you are writing that you plan to return to your current job, then you are probably too realistic

THE QUESTION BEHIND THE QUESTION

Can you get a job? 

Are you a double switcher or a triple jumper?

A double switcher is an applicant who seeks to change two of three variables post-MBA. And a triple jumper seeks to change all three

The three variables are 

Admissions Committees might be concerned if you are a double switcher or a triple jumper if you appear to have unrealistic career expectations 

Concision is critical

If you know your plan, you can express it concisely

If you can express your short-term goals concisely, you are more likely to achieve them 

Questions behind the question

Long term career goal

What job do you want in ten or more years?

A good long-term goal represents the next logical step after you achieve your short-term goals. For instance, if you plan to spend a few years in management consulting, then it might make sense to move into a management role at a leading company in your coverage area. Doing so would allow you to utilize the expert knowledge and skills, as well as the professional relationships that you established during your consulting career.

Most long-term goals can be simplified to fit one of two paths

1. The CEO Path

Lead an existing organization as a C-level executive role such as CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO, etc.

2. The Entrepreneur Path

Join or create a new organization as an entrepreneur

How does an MBA best prepare you to transition from your short-term goal to your C-level executive role?

A future CEO might be trying to use an MBA to help transition

from specialist to generalist

from tactician to strategist

from problem solver to problem finder

If you plan to lead a large organization, you need to know how to

scale a business

hire the right people

drive growth to match market conditions

How does an MBA best prepare you to start a company?

If you plan to create a company, you should know how to

identify and capture opportunities

create products and services that reflect market conditions and excite customers 

Perhaps you could reach a C-suite office or create a company without business school. Still, earning your Columbia MBA accelerates your progress and maximizes your potential.

More tips on how to write the " goals / why MBA" essay ,

Why Columbia? 

Why is Columbia a good match for you? What will you gain from the program? 

Think about the three P's: 

What professors or programs best prepare you to achieve your short and long term goals?

Can you define Columbia's unique student culture in your own words?

Can you mention the names of students and alumni? Who do you know? 

Cite your sources. Include quotes from current students and alumni who can verify and elaborate on your reasons for choosing Columbia

What did you discuss with them? How did those discussions confirm and deepen your insights into the Columbia MBA experience?

How do the people you know embody Columbia MBA? Can you find something in their personality that matches yours?

Perhaps it is something about their sense of humor

Or their way of solving problems

Or their way of communicating and collaborating with teams

How did Columbia MBA change them?

Why do you want to experience a similar transformation?

THE QUESTIONS BEHIND THE QUESTION

 Will you attend CBS if we admit you?

 What business opportunities have you identified that you can best capture by studying at CBS? 

 What academic and social opportunities have you identified that you can best capture by studying at CBS? 

MY ASSUMPTIONS

Those who prioritize studying in an urban location will prioritize CBS.

STORY PATTERN ONE

NYC as business incubator 

STORY PATTERN TWO

NYC as academic and cultural community 

limitless possibilities

fast paced and adaptable

QUESTION BEHIND THE QUESTION

Why do you fit Columbia's student culture?

What can you contribute to that culture?

What community and social opportunities have you identified that you can best capture by studying at Columbia Business School?

Do you understand the Columbia Business School community?

Please start by learning as much as you can about life at Columbia. 

Develop your hypothesis about why Columbia best prepares you to accomplish your post-MBA goals. 

Then, contact current students to confirm your hypothesis. 

QUESTIONS BEHIND THE QUESTION

What aspects of your academic record might concern Admissions Committee readers?

What aspects of your personal history might interest Admissions Committee readers?

Please see Is the MBA admissions Optional Essay truly optional?

Short answer questions

①Add Employer (Duties/Responsibilities)

(###/500 incl. spaces)

②Please provide an explanation for any gaps in your employment history: 1000 characters

③Extracurricular Activities

Instructions: List up to 3 collegiate extracurricular activities and up to 3 post-collegiate extracurricular activities in order of importance.

■During College

- Order of Importance : 1

- Type : During College 

- Organization Name : 

- Country : 

- Dates of Participation : 

- Frequency of Participation : 

- Description of Participation

- Order of Importance : 2

- Organization Name :  

-Dates of Participation :  

-Frequency of Participation :  

-Description of Participation   

- Order of Importance : 3

- State :  

- Dates of Participation :  

- Frequency of Participation :  

- Description of Participation  

■Post College

- Description of Participation   

- Type : Post College

- City :   

Please list other activities or interests that you regularly engage in

Letters of Recommendation (LoRs)

All first-time applications require two recommendations. Reapplicants are required to submit one new recommendation. If you have been working full-time for at least six months, one recommendation should be from your current supervisor. The second recommendation should be from either a former direct supervisor or from another professional associate, senior to you, who can share their insights on your candidacy.

If you are a college senior or have worked full-time for fewer than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from a person who can comment on your managerial abilities. You may ask a summer employer or another person whom you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor.

We ask recommenders to consider the following guidelines when writing their recommendations:

How do the candidate's performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.

Please be aware: The Admissions Committee requires that all application materials be submitted online, including recommendations.

Please limit your recommendation to 1,000 words.

(found at http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs-admissions/mba/admissions/application-requirements#5; accessed 2014/05)

International Applicants

International students who do not have a degree from an institution in which all instruction is conducted in English must take either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the PTE (Pearson Test of English). You may be exempted from the TOEFL or the PTE only if you have earned a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction. We will not accept requests for exceptions to this policy.

The TOEFL and PTE scores are valid for two years. Your TOEFL or PTE score must be valid when you submit your application.

Be sure to self-report your TOEFL or PTE score when completing your application. If admitted, you must submit an official score report. For the TOEFL, Columbia’s ETS code is 2174, MBA department code 02. For the PTE select "Columbia Business School" from the list of schools provided by Pearson. The Admissions Committee will consider only your highest score when reviewing your application.

for reference

Columbia Business School 2016 MBA (Class of 2018) Essays

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 “What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal?” question, Essay

VINCE SUMMARY 

Goal short answer (50 chars) Essay 1 (500 words), Essay 2 (250 words) and Essay 3 (250 words) are all required.

Please watch these videos, and then read the tips below.

Student Organizations

There are more than 100 active student organizations at Columbia Business School, ranging from cultural to professional to athletic tocommunity service–oriented. Together, they host more than 100 events every week, with many held during the School’s dedicated “Club Time” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. These organizations provide a valuable and stimulating complement to the academic curriculum and social environment. Leadership positions within the clubs also offer hands-on management and networking opportunities for students, and faculty members and alumni frequently get involved as advisers, event moderators, or panelists, while corporations often generously sponsor events.

See the list below for a sampling of some of the more popular student organizations at Columbia Business School.

Affinity | Community Service | Career and Professional

Social and Athletic | Student Government and Leadership

Affinity Clubs

Asian Business Association

Black Business Students Association

Columbia Women in Business

Greater China Society

Latin American Business Association

South Asian Business Association

Community Service Organizations

Community Action Rewards Everyone

Financial Education Society

Harlem Tutorial Program

Career and Professional Clubs

Columbia Investment Management Association

Green Business Club

Healthcare Industry Association

Investment Banking Club

Management Consulting Association

Marketing Association of Columbia

Private Equity and Venture Capital Club

Real Estate Association

Retail and Luxury Goods Club

Social Enterprise Club

Social and Athletic Groups

Gourmet Club

Military in Business Association

Outdoor Adventure Club

Rugby Football Club

Wine Society

Women’s Touch Rugby

World Tour Club

Student Government and Leadership

Bernstein Leadership and Ethics Board

Graduate Business Association

Honor Board

International Student Advisory Board

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/organizations; accessed 2013/06)

Speakers and Conferences

The convenience of Columbia Business School’s New York location and its close ties to the business, nonprofit, and government communities means that students are constantly afforded the opportunity to hear from the very leaders who are actively shaping the business landscape.

Many professors invite practitioners to guest-teach a class session, while other leaders address larger groups of students at on-campus events organized by student clubs, research centers, and regular speaker series such as the Silfen Leadership Series, the Nand and Jeet Khemka Distinguished Speaker Forum, the Sir Gordon Wu Distinguished Speaker Forum, the Montrone Seminar Series on Ethics, and more.

Conferences led by student clubs also attract well-known guest speakers, participants, and alumni from across industries and around the world, providing students with greater insights into the current business environment. These conferences are entirely student run and give club members the opportunity to build industry connections while applying the management skills they learn in the classroom.

Some of the larger student conferences include:

Black Business Student Association Conference

Columbia Investment Management Association Conference

Columbia Women in Business Conference

Healthcare Conference

India Business Conference

Marketing Association of Columbia Conference

Media Management Association Conference

Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference

Retail and Luxury Goods Conference

Social Enterprise Conference

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/speakers; accessed 2013/06)

Diversity at Columbia

Student collaboration that brings together a variety of perspectives and experiences leads to truly effective learning and leadership development. With this in mind, Columbia Business School is committed to promoting diversity in all its forms by recruiting students from an array of professional backgrounds, socioeconomic upbringings, racial and ethnic identities, and geographic locations. Nowhere is this commitment more apparent than in MBA clusters and learning teams, which are designed to bring together students from a range of backgrounds to help them learn together, both about the material and one another.

Student Initiatives

The School is constantly finding ways to further promote diversity, particularly through its more than 100 student organizations. These student-led groups provide opportunities throughout the semester for all students to celebrate the many different cultures present at Columbia Business School, and many are also involved in the career recruiting process and student-run conferences. The goal behind clubs affiliated with particular affinity groups is not only to provide a network of support for those students, but also to promote collaboration among clubs across the School.

Affiliations

In addition to the fellowships and scholarships designed to foster diversity in the full-time MBA program, the School is also closely affiliated with several national organizations that work to improve the diversity of leaders in the business world.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow

National Black MBA Association

National Society for Hispanic MBAs

Riordan Fellows Program

Sponsors for Educational Opportunity

Ten School Diversity Alliance

On-Campus Diversity Events

Throughout the year, the Admissions Office hosts recruiting events for underrepresented minorities. These events, which include Spotlight On: Diversity and Diversity Connect at Columbia, immerse prospective students in the Columbia Business School community, imparting a holistic understanding of the dynamic academic and social environments that exist on campus.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/diversity; accessed 2013/06)

Women at Columbia

Columbia Business School strives to lead top MBA programs in reflecting a more equitable gender balance among its population by actively recruiting talented and accomplished female students and faculty members, sponsoring events that address issues relevant to women in business, and providing on-campus support for recent mothers.

Columbia Women in Business (CWIB) is one of the most popular and successful student organizations on campus. CWIB hosts a series of events each semester specifically geared toward further strengthening the role of women in the business world, building connections with female alumni, and facilitating career recruiting in a range of industries. The annual Columbia Women in Business Conference, run entirely by students, attracts high-profile women speakers and industry insiders to discuss the various paths to success taken by women business leaders.

Columbia Business School is proud to partner with organizations both on and off campus that are devoted to supporting women in business.

Forté Foundation

10,000 Women Initiative

Office of Work/Life

On-Campus Events

The Admissions Office hosts two annual recruiting events designed for female applicants, Spotlight On: Women and Women Connect at Columbia, where prospective students have the chance to visit campus to meet current women students, alumni, and faculty members, discuss issues unique to women in business, and learn more about the experience for women at Columbia Business School.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/women; accessed 2013/06)

LGBT at Columbia

Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia Business School prides itself on being an open and welcoming community for many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, faculty members, and administrators. The School’s population of LGBT students cuts across geography, experience, ethnicity, and gender to create one of the largest and most diverse LGBT groups among the world’s top business schools. In addition, Columbia Business School has the largest representation of straight allies among all business schools, and the School’s relationship with New York City affords LGBT students powerful networking opportunities and an extensive LGBT community.

Cluster Q, Columbia Business School’s LGBT student organization, has grown in membership for four consecutive years. The club provides a strong network for LGBT students within the School, as well as with alumni, recruiters, and students from across Columbia University. Cluster Q organizes a variety of social and career-oriented events throughout the year, helping to foster the LGBT community on campus and develop relationships with recruiters.

Cluster Q maintains relationships with many top firms – from finance to consulting to brand management – who actively recruit members of the Columbia Business School LGBT community .

Columbia Business School encourages students to network with their peers from other business schools. Each year, Cluster Q sends a large cohort of students to Reaching Out MBA, an LGBT-specific MBA career and networking conference.

The Admissions Office also actively participates in CHecK uS Out, a multi-school admissions event for LGBT prospective students organized by Columbia, Harvard, Kellogg, and Stanford that takes place in New York City and San Francisco each fall.

Each year the Admissions Office hosts LGBT Connect, an on-campus admissions event geared towards prospective LGBT students. This event gives prospective students the opportunity to visit campus and meet admissions officers, current LGBT students, and LGBT alumni.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/lgbt; accessed 2013/06)

Veterans at Columbia

The Military in Business Association (MIBA), Columbia Business School’s veteran student organization, has continually grown in membership as the veteran presence within the School community has increased. MIBA provides an incredibly strong network for veteran students within Columbia Business School, as well as with alumni, recruiters, and students from across the University.

Members come from all branches of the armed forces within the United States and internationally. By leveraging the experiences of current and former members, MIBA seeks — through camaraderie, support, and networking — to enhance the career success of all those with a connection to the Columbia Business School military community.

MIBA organizes a variety of social and career-oriented events throughout the year, strengthening the veteran community on campus and cultivating relationships with recruiters. MIBA also organizes events with current and former high-ranking military leaders such as former US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey and former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr.

In addition, MIBA has also sponsored student-wide happy hours, raised over $6,500 for Survivor Joe (an organization that supports currently deployed service members), and co-sponsored a successful social event with Cluster Q (Columbia Business School’s LGBT student organization) that raised over $3,000 in donations for The Trevor Project and Team RWB.

MIBA also maintains close relationships with many recruiters from top firms — from finance to consulting to brand management — who actively recruit MIBA members of the Columbia Business School veteran community.

The Admissions Office actively participates in several organizations related to veteran recruitment, including the Yellow Ribbon Program. In addition, a MIBA member attends the annual Service Academy Career Conference in Washington DC in order to speak with prospective students about Columbia Business School.

MIBA and the Admissions Office host an annual Fleet Week event for prospective students who have served in the armed forces. This event is held during Fleet Week and is open to Fleet Week participants as well as other active or former member of the military.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/veterans; accessed 2013/06)

Spouses, Partners, and Families

Starting graduate school can be a big adjustment for anyone, and that includes a student’s spouse, partner, or children — particularly when moving to a new city. While the transition can seem daunting, the Office of Student Affairs is committed to helping students and their families alike become part of the Columbia Business School community. In addition to online resources for you and your family, a student-led interest group, Columbia Better Halves, creates venues for significant others and families of students to meet. Activities include family-friendly events such as Halloween Family Day, playground activities, dinners, cultural excursions, and an important initiative during orientation to better prepare partners for the demands of an MBA education.

New York is an exciting place, and it offers plenty to do. Visit the University’s Exploring New York City for a resource listing to give you a head start on some aspects of life in New York, including museums, neighborhoods, transportation, and more.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/life/families; accessed 2013/06)

Reapplications to Columbia Business School

Those reapplying more than one year after their previous application should adhere to all the requirements of new applicants. Those reapplying one year or less from the date of their previous application need only do the following:

Submit a new application fee (US$250).

Update the “Personal,” “Family,” “Employment,” “Education,” and “Extracurricular Activities” sections of the online application.

Update the “How Will You Finance Your MBA?” section of the online application.

Submit transcripts of any additional courses taken since your previous application.

Submit one new, two-part essay:

A. How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied, and address how you plan to achieve your post-MBA and long-term professional goals. (Maximum of 500 words)

B. Please view this video , entitled Community at Columbia. Diverse, tight-knit clusters and carefully selected learning teams are defining features of the first year at Columbia Business School. Along with more than 100 student organizations and countless events each semester, the cluster system helps to create a supportive and devoted lifelong community . Describe why you are interested in becoming a part of the Columbia community. (Maximum 250 words)

Submit one new recommendation letter, preferably from your current employer, but if not, another colleague in a supervisory role or a client will suffice.

Reapplicants with questions should contact the Admissions Office at [email protected] or 212-854-1961.

Please note that candidates may only apply once to a given term of entry.

(found at http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/admissions/applynow ; accessed 2012/07)

NOTE: Columbia does not specifically ask why you want an MBA, but I encourage you to think about it

First, why are you NOT pursuing a specialized masters (Masters in Finance, Master in Technology) or a Ph.D.?

Most importantly, how does an MBA best prepare you to build the skills you need? For example, you might need:

technical knowledge of finance and accounting

analytical skills, including corporate strategy, strategic planning (long-term thinking)

interpersonal skills to motivate experts in finance, accounting, sales, marketing, engineering, and operations

Clients sometimes ask me to explain the difference between technical skills and analytical skills. Here is my answer: Technical knowledge and skills is the type of knowledge you need to understand a task. For instance, the accounting knowledge you need to understand what auditors do. 

According to NYTimes columnist David Brooks, "Technical knowledge is like the recipes in a cookbook. It is formulas telling you roughly what is to be done. It is reducible to rules and directions. It's the sort of knowledge that can be captured in lectures and bullet points and memorized by rote." (found at http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/opinion/Brooks-The-Practical-University.xml?f=76; accessed 2013/04)

Analytical skills sometimes involve technical knowledge (finance and and accounting knowledge) but they are often more complex and more sophisticated than technical skills. Sometimes, they require creativity and intuition. For example, strategy consultants display analytical skills when they form (and test) a business hypothesis. Business schools teach technical skills like finance and accounting so that students can apply these skills when analyzing business cases. 

Information is subject to change. Please, verify all data with the schools.

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Columbia MBA essays

As we enter the final months of round one MBA applications for the 2022-23 cycle, most top B-schools have already released their application deadlines and required essay questions. Today we will discuss the essay questions released by Columbia Business School (CBS) for this year’s admissions cycle among the top B-school list. But before that, let us take a look at the deadlines for each round.

January 2024 Entry:

QUICK INSIGHT INTO THE BEST INTAKE TO APPLY IN-

Great! Now that you know the respective deadlines, you can choose whether to apply at early or regular rounds. Early rounds generally have better prospects of getting in and bagging scholarships. It’s especially advantageous for over-represented applicants. 

Suggested Readings –

  • Learn more about Early round MBA enrollment and programs .
  • How to stand out if you belong to an over-represented background?
  • Join alums and students of top-notch B-Schools in our upcoming coffee session, where we will extensively discuss how to crack the Early rounds for the 2022 cycle.

This article is dedicated completely to how to crack MBA School essays and is part of our exclusive “MBA B-School Essays,” where we help you understand how adcoms think and how to craft admit-winning essays.!     

Now, let us look at the required application essay questions released by CBS!

SHORT ANSWER QUESTION:

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

Almost all the schools do ask this question, and almost all the aspirants seem to know the answer. But still, a very slim percentage of them manage to get the glance of the adcoms. Why?

Because one needs to follow a structured framework before getting on these questions that help them introspect on their goals thoroughly. 

Suggested Readings-

  • Our unique framework that helps applicants craft killer post-MBA goals
  • How to write a kickass post MBA goals essay?
  • Sample of a successful post MBA goals essay

To introspect on your short-term goals, start with long-term career aspirations. Weird, huh?

This will help you understand your immediate goals and your ‘Why MBA.’ Once you have some understanding, narrow it down to the desired industry, function, and geography you want to pursue post MBA. And finally, align the dots with your current work experience to bring practicality and collinearity. 

Furthermore, for someone belonging to an overrepresented pool of candidates, a pinch of uniqueness and some bits of personality could cut! 

So, whenever answering such questions, the trick is to remember what separates you from the crowd?     

Q) What are your career goals over the next three to five years, and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

“The hefty one, the most common one, the crucial one,” or you may call it whatever you want. This question is the most basic one and is shared among all top B-schools using different sets of words. Perfect it once; get rid of it forever! That’s our advice. 

Once a candidate has spent enough time to draft a structure best to his knowledge and perfectly hemmed together with the other elements of your profile, it’s just the matter of incorporating smaller stuff like school values and your aspirations regarding specific schools and their culture! 

In order to dive deep into the process, we would recommend that you once go through our article on How to frame practical post-MBA goals essays? You will get valuable insights into how you could incorporate the distinction & specificity of your professional & academic background into a generic industry like finance, consulting, product management, etc. Finally, the only thing left to do is make them “Collinear.” No matter how good & strong your background is, being a doctor, you can’t go all the way to start working in an IT role. The aim should be to be as far as possible from being unrealistic and hypothetical in your post-MBA goals. 

ESSAY 2: 

Q) Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)

Let’s try a different approach! Think of this as a precap of every resource you need, everything you will try to achieve, your aspirations regarding an MBA, your career projectile, and finally, a culture you can thrive upon. Take all these and, in 300 words, summarize how you think an MBA from CBS could cater to all of your needs. Remember, don’t be shy! The adcom likes demanding people; after all, you are giving your precious years and a hefty investment, and the school must help you achieve everything you desire!      

Suggested Reading- How to ace your ‘Why MBA’ and ‘Why a specific school’ essays?

ESSAY 3:  

Q) Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

Again a good one! Describing anything you feel attached to helps the adcom know you apart from your professional and academic background. We always say that GPA and GMAT do not decide admissions; it’s the built-in character, the aura, the values, and the collaborative leader with the potential to bring a huge impact to the CBS community that will cut. 

Quick Insight-

While bringing a good personality, try to align your values with the schools. Very impactful!! 

There you go! These are the essay questions released by CBS for MBA applicants applying in this year’s admission cycle. As you can see, it’s a clear mix of post-MBA goals; how would an MBA from CBS enhance your skill-set and a personal question to gauge your character apart from your professionalism.

Strategy-wise, to get started, we would advise you spend about two weeks doing adequate research on CBS itself, familiarizing yourself with the curriculum, culture, clubs, and campus activities. Next, it’s crucial to understand how to interlink your experiences, ECAs, and professional accolades in a well-structured manner and with an approach that would provide a clear sense of your professionalism and define a strong character that matches the school values.

columbia-mba-essays

It seems a bit confusing, isn’t it? But, fear not; MBA and Beyond are determined to help you develop a unique structure for each essay question providing step-by-step procedures to build a specific answer that would help you stand out among the crowd! We are a team of expert consultants who follow a unique process to achieve maximum efficiency, quality, and interaction, ensuring a 100% unique and authentic application! 

Feel free to hop on a 1:1 profile evaluation call with our experts , where we’ll dip deep into your profile and help you understand your chances to top B-schools with absolutely honest feedback. “at certain points in life, we require guidance and assistance from others to grow.”

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Columbia Business School – MBA Essay Samples

Mba essay sample 1:  please tell us what you feel most passionate about in life.

columbia mba essay sample

Read More of this sample MBA essay on passion

Essay Sample 2:  Please discuss a time in your own life when you have identified and captured an opportunity

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Columbia MBA Sample Essays

Columbia mba application essays: 2023-2024.

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 recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to develop as inclusive leaders. Through various resources and programming, the goal is for students to explore and reflect during their educational journey on the following five inclusive leadership skills: Mitigating Bias and Prejudice; Managing Intercultural Dialogue; Addressing Systemic Inequity; Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking; and Creating an Inclusive Environment. Describe a time or situation when you had the need to utilize one or more of these five skills, and tell us the actions you took and the outcome. (250 words)

Essay 3: We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program. Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

Optional Essay: If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

Columbia MBA Winning Sample Essay – 1

Columbia mba 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.

I have over seven years of experience in the investment banking and private equity domain, and over the next 3-5 years, my goal is to grow as an investment banker in the Technology, Media, and Telecom division preferably at a bulge bracket investment bank.

I started my career at TresVista (a financial services firm for private equity and investment banking clients) when there were only 60 employees. From 2013 to 2019, TresVista grew from 60 to 500 people and I grew from an Analyst to an Assistant Vice President role. This high growth journey allowed me to gain cross-functional expertise where I learned how to engage with clients, build rapport, and manage expectations. Each transaction helped hone both my technical and managerial skills. I developed an analytical approach to breaking down the plethora of problems that accompany each transaction. The global client base gave me international exposure and taught me the nuances of working with cross-cultural teams. 

Later at Unitus (a social impact-focused investment banking firm), I have witnessed first-hand the potential of Technology to bring about tremendous societal change. My first mandate at Unitus was a fundraiser for an Ed-tech firm catering to affordable schools in Kenya. In the short span of a year, we helped the firm finance over 150 schools to develop infrastructure and enroll over 10,000 additional students. Such experiences of leading engagements with fintech and ed-tech companies that are taking forward the mantle of financial and educational inclusion are what inspires me. To push the boundaries of innovation these companies require access to capital – a goal I would like to champion. 

My rather unique experience while working on impact-focused investments made me realize that there is a dearth of innovative financial products in the impact investment sector. Products such as green bonds and impact bonds have found limited traction in recent years despite the tremendous potential. Investment Bankers can provide insights and champion regulatory changes required to provide the much-needed impetus to the sector. That is why I want to upskill myself via an MBA to be a full-fledged investment banker, where I can pursue such causes and create a real impact in society. 

An MBA from Columbia Business School would be an ideal stepping stone to help me achieve goals. I strongly believe with my prior experience in the investing space and armed with a business education from CBS, I will be ready to succeed as an investment banker and then pursue my long-term vision of a career specializing in ESG or impact investing. 

Today most of the major private equity funds have added ESG as a core focus. Firms like Carlyle, KKR, Blackstone, and others have dedicated funds to impact investing.  In the long term, I would aspire to lead engagements where I can help deploy capital to sustainable and impactful business models. Funding businesses that can empower communities, tackle climate change, bridge the divide between the markets and the “real economy” would be a dream come true.

Columbia MBA Essay 2: Why Columbia?  (250 words)

For the last 7 years, I have led multiple engagements but my investment banking experience has mainly revolved around fundraising, with limited exposure to Mergers & Acquisition (M&A). In order to achieve my short-term objectives, I need to enhance and fulfill gaps in my knowledge of the investment process.

CBS, with its core courses and specialized electives covering M&A, and value investing programs, would fulfill the theoretical gaps in my understanding. The courses would help me build on my knowledge of the investment process, and set me up for success in my endeavors. 

Other than academics, I would like to leverage the offerings at the Tamer center to expand and refine my understanding of impact investing. I am eager to engage and participate in the Investment Banking and Private Equity club events to gain hands-on exposure and mentoring from industry veterans. 

My mentor and managing director of TresVista is also based out of New York. He has time and again stressed the importance of networking and that there is no better place than New York for my career plans. It is with his encouragement that I am applying to the MBA program at CBS. 

CBS’s location provides a unique opportunity to be at the “Center of Business”. During my time at TresVista, I worked closely with several funds and investment banks based out of New York. The close proximity would allow the opportunity to leverage my existing network as well as expand it to unearth employment opportunities for myself. 

Columbia MBA Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you.  (250 words)

The Harry Potter series introduced me to the world of fantasy fiction. Since then, while I dove into the works of JRR Tolkein (LOTR), Paolini, Amish, Martin, and others, Harry Potter always held a special place. With each reading of the books, I identified with different characters, and a different message resonated. 

Harry taught me the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. At 13, my family went through a period of extreme financial turmoil. We were forced to vacate our home and liquidate our savings. My parents worked tirelessly to restore our lives and at an early age, I learned the value of money. The story served as an inspiration to keep going despite tall odds. 

Hermione taught me that perceived disadvantages can be overcome through diligence and intellect. As an engineer starting in finance, I invested considerable time and effort in mastering concepts and building a strong base of fundamentals. Consistently working towards excellence helped me build my own brand at both firms, enabling me to achieve multiple fast-track promotions.  

Today, my hobbies and travel choices, and experiences are all driven by a strong sense of adventure, cultivated by my love for fantasy fiction. My fondest memories include scuba diving off the coast of Indonesia, sailing in the pristine waters in Thailand, or cliff diving off the rocky expanse of Dubrovnik. Harry Potter makes me believe that magic was just around the corner and gave hope for a better tomorrow.

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Columbia MBA Winning Sample Essay – 2

Columbia mba 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).

I have 3 years of experience as a lead software developer at Goldman Sachs, and over the next 3-5 years, my goal is to transition into a product management role to lead innovative product development in FinTech, within the personal finance domain.

One of the most impactful experiences of my life occurred in high school when I won my school’s innovation challenge. I designed a music streaming service that promoted the work of aspiring musicians in minority communities. At this moment, I saw the power of technology to drive social change, level the playing field, and open worlds of possibility to new audiences. This piqued my lifelong interest in learning and working at the intersection of entrepreneurship and engineering, which in turn inspired my decision to major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley.

At college, my intellectual journey was once again shaped through a technology contest; this time it was the CITRIS Mobile App Challenge, where the task was to design a technology company from the ground up. I researched potential gap markets and designed a delivery application that catered to college students, bagging a spot in the semifinals, which allowed me to present my idea to a panel of judges comprised of technology entrepreneurs. Their feedback provided me important insights into the entrepreneurial mindset required to establish a successful venture.

After graduation from Berkeley, I joined Goldman Sachs, where my experience has strengthened my resolve in the immense potential of technology to revolutionize the financial services industry. On a recent project, I implemented an innovative solution to automate the firm’s trade confirmation system by integrating it with DocuSign. I managed the entire project, gathered requirements, performed cost-benefit analysis, prioritized features, and collaborated with multiple stakeholders. This project made me realize that my true calling was in end-to-end product management.

Thus, my short-term post-MBA goal is to work as a product manager in a personal finance FinTech startup, such as Wealthfront or Chime. I aspire to leverage my technical expertise along with the knowledge of business and finance gained at CBS to develop features for products that make use of the latest technologies to create a positive impact on the consumer journey. 

In the long run, I desire to start a technology company that would empower consumers by helping them achieve financial independence. Despite the current technological progress, an estimated 2 billion people globally do not have access to banking, which highlights the existence of a huge gap that needs to be plugged. The lack of access to basics in saving, borrowing, and investing keeps them out of the market, and I see a significant potential to make an impact in this domain through technology. By offering innovative yet simple opportunities whereby everyone would be able to make independent financial decisions, I aim to assist others to achieve their financial goals.

The MBA from Columbia Business School is the ideal stepping stone to help me achieve both my short-term and long-term goals.

Columbia MBA Essay 2: Why do you feel that Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 Words)

Through the MBA program at CBS, I desire to broaden my knowledge horizons outside of my technical experience into the business world and develop my personal leadership skills to achieve my goals.

CBS’s renowned product management courses will add a vital element to my knowledge to succeed in my short-term goal. Specifically, User Experience and Product Management will ensure that I always stay true to “keeping myself in the shoes of the consumer” at the forefront of all product development.

Along with theoretical knowledge, CBS provides avenues such as the Columbia FinTech club and Entrepreneurship Organization, that can give me experiential opportunities to implement classroom learnings. Also, CBS’s strategic location in the heart of New York City will provide me with invaluable access to industry leaders and help me develop my personal network at partner companies. Thus, I believe the practical experiences and networks acquired at CBS will help me lay a solid foundation for my future career in FinTech.  

In addition to gaining hard skills and business acumen through the classroom and club experience, I plan to develop my soft skills via the numerous initiatives offered through the Advanced Leadership program at Leadership Lab. I look forward to improving upon my communication, negotiation, and team coordination skills, and will employ these to foster a collaborative culture at CBS and beyond.

Overall, CBS seems to be the complete package and a perfect fit for my desired learnings from an MBA program, both on a professional and personal front. 

Columbia MBA Essay 3: Who is a leader you admire and why? (250 Words)

Virat Kohli is a cricket player whom I admired even before he became captain of the Indian cricket team – one of the most coveted positions in the sporting world.

As a player and cricket captain myself, I initially had difficulties coping with the vicissitudes of the game and was upset after a string of losses. So I started watching Virat’s interviews for inspiration, and one of his responses resonated with me: “wins and losses are a part of the game. It is important to maintain a balance – never be elated with your wins, and don’t get demoralized with losses.” I took his advice to heart and ultimately led my team to the finals, and secured the best player award. 

I have also implemented this in my professional career at Goldman Sachs, where I uplift the team morale if a release does not go as planned. I believe that this habit has held me in good stead to face challenges without fear of failure.

Moreover, Virat goes to great lengths to support his teammates, mentoring and coaching them to improve, even when the media was castigating them. He believed in them despite everything, and these players have turned their game around under Virat’s leadership. Similarly, through my experiences mentoring students and a summer intern at work, I have come to embrace the idea that true success comes when you empower others to reach their potential, which in turn allows a group to become greater than the sum of its parts.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write a stand-out "why columbia" essay.

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College Essays

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One of the essays you'll have to write when applying to Columbia University is the "Why Columbia" essay. In this essay, you'll need to convince the admissions committee that Columbia is your dream school and that you'd be a great fit on the campus.

The "Why Columbia" essay question can be intimidating for students. You might be wondering: what should I mention in it? What does the admissions committee want to hear from me?

In this article, we'll break down the "Why Columbia" essay, explaining what the prompt asks and what the committee wants to hear. We'll also show you a real, successful "Why Columbia" essay example and explain why it works. Finally, we'll suggest potential topics for your essay and offer tips on how to write your own college admissions essays.

The 411 on the "Why Columbia" Essay Prompt

Here's the current "Why Columbia" essay prompt for the 2023-2024 application cycle :

Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? We encourage you to consider the aspect(s) that you find unique and compelling about Columbia. (150 words or fewer)

As you can see, the "Why Columbia" essay prompt asks a specific question: why do you want to attend Columbia University over any other school?

The admissions committee wants to see that you are genuinely interested in attending Columbia specifically and that you value it more than all other colleges out there.

As an applicant, you might be thinking that everyone applies to Columbia for the same reason: it's an Ivy League school and one of the best universities in the world.

The admissions committee knows all these facts about Columbia and knows that all applicants will know these facts, too.

What the Columbia admissions committee wants to learn is why you specifically want to go to Columbia rather than another amazing university.

From their perspective, students who really want to go to Columbia are more likely to enroll when they're accepted. This increases the university's yield rate and ensures that the freshman class will be full. If you can show in your essay that you’ve carefully considered the unique things about Columbia that make it the perfect school for you, you’ve got a good shot at getting an acceptance letter!

What Is the Purpose of the "Why Columbia" Essay?

Why does Columbia require applicants to answer this essay question? And what is the admissions committee really looking for in your answer? Let's analyze the "Why Columbia" essay prompt.

No matter which schools you're applying to, "Why This College" essays are perhaps the most common essay prompts you'll find on college applications because colleges want to see that you really want to attend their school.

But why exactly do colleges care that you want to go to their school?

Students who are passionate about their college or university are more likely to feel that the school is a good fit for them. They'll be more likely to commit to their studies, participate in on-campus activities, and become an active alum after graduation.

Therefore, if you show in your essay that you really love Columbia, it will make admissions officers feel more confident that you're going to have a significant and positive impact on their school.

If your reasons for attending Columbia are vague or even plain wrong (for instance, say you claim you'd like to take a major that isn't actually offered at Columbia), the admissions committee will think that you don't care about the school and aren't really interested in it.

Basically, the purpose of the essay is to suss out whether your interest in Columbia is genuine and to see whether you're ready to take advantage of Columbia's many opportunities.

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

What Should You Write About in Your "Why Columbia" Essay?

There are a number of different topics you can pursue for your "Why Columbia" essay. Ideally, you'll want to explore specific topics that you can talk about in-depth.

Here are some suggested topics for your essay:

  • Majors or classes you're interested in (look for class names in the online course catalog)
  • Professors whose research you're interested in
  • Extracurriculars that you'd be interested in joining (you can likely find these online, too)
  • Current and past Columbia students you've met before and whom you admire
  • Volunteer opportunities  you'd like to get involved in 
  • Financial aid opportunities Columbia offers that make it possible for you to attend
  • Professional development opportunities Columbia offers

When it comes down to it, make sure to choose something about Columbia that no other school offers.

For instance, Columbia is in New York City and therefore has relationships with lots of businesses and organizations in the area. You could use your essay to examine how these Columbia-specific opportunities in New York will positively affect your education.

What you don't want to do, however, is wax on about how you love city-living— you need to make sure to describe how Columbia's specific relationship with NYC will help you to further your goals.

Match opportunities at Columbia to specific goals you have. For example, you could talk about how a particular professor's course aligns with your career objectives.

You need to be very specific in your answer: every single thing you say should relate back to a certain feature of Columbia. The entire focus of your essay should be what Columbia offers and how you'll take advantage of the school's academics and activities to get the best college education possible.

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4 Tips for a Great Response to the "Why Columbia" Essay

Regardless of how you decide to answer this prompt, there are four tips everyone should keep in mind to ensure that they are fully answering the question, giving the information Columbia wants to see, and standing apart from other applicants.

#1: Do Your Research

Before you begin writing your response to this essay prompt, you should know exactly why you want to attend Columbia University. There are multiple ways you can do this research:

  • Visit the school website or browse the list of departments, programs, and courses
  • Check out the school newspaper, schedule a campus visit (virtual or in-person!), or set up a meeting with an alum, current student, or professor to get a feel for the campus

Every college campus has its own vibe, and visiting is the best way to get a sense of how Columbia might work with your personality as a student.

#2: Be Specific

From your research, you should have come up with specific reasons why Columbia is a great school for you. The more specific you can be when answering this prompt, the better.

Don't say Columbia has great academics, caring professors, and an interesting student body. The vast majority of schools have that!

Instead, try to mention opportunities only Columbia can provide, such as specific professors, courses, extracurricular activities, or research opportunities.

The things you discuss should be things your other top schools don't offer—things that really make Columbia stand out.

#3: Show Your Passion

Columbia wants students who care a lot about their studies and their school, so be sure this comes across in your response.

A bland statement such as "I am impressed by Columbia's strong engineering program" doesn't tell the school anything about you or help you stand apart from other applicants. Show your passion by naming specific professors or features of the program.

You've done your research to mention certain qualities Columbia has that have enticed you, and now it's time to discuss specific qualities about yourself, too. Why does the engineering program make you so excited? What do you want to get out of it? Be detailed, specific, and honest.

#4: Proofread

Your Columbia essay should be the strongest possible example of your writing skills. Before you turn in your application, take time to edit and proofread your essays.

Your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Make sure to run your essays through a spelling and grammar check before you submit.

It's a good idea to have someone else read your "Why Columbia" essay, too. You can seek a second opinion on your work from a parent, teacher, or friend.

Ask them whether your work represents you as a student and person. Have them check and make sure that you haven't missed any small writing errors. Having a second opinion will help your work be the best it can be.

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Here's a little taste of what a good "Why Columbia" essay looks like.

"Why Columbia" Essay Example

If you're stuck on what to write for your own essay, looking at "Why Columbia" essays that actually worked can be helpful. Below, we examine one "Why Columbia" essay that got a student accepted to Columbia and talk about what specifically made this piece of writing so strong.

The following essay comes to us from an accepted Columbia 2020 student via AP Study Notes :

At a college visit this year, I met a Columbia alumnus named Ayushi, whose stories helped me develop a thorough understanding of Columbia. Ayushi told me that Columbia funded both her summer trip to Syria to interview refugees and her seed money for a start-up she launched. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I'm impressed by a university that encourages students to pursue their own independent creations instead of simply offering the option to work on faculty projects. Columbia's four entrepreneurship organizations, among them the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, provide a dynamic start-up community for me to launch my own business.

In addition, when I explored Columbia online, the emphasis put on interdisciplinary studies particularly excited me. The Columbia Engineering website is rich with stories of engineering students who are also involved in Shakespeare troupes, service projects, and multicultural groups. In my opinion, diverse experiences are the foundation of creative thinking. At Columbia, I will continue to diversify my experience by not just joining the Parliamentary Debate Team, but also by making new friends on the intramural soccer field and starting a cultural club for Italian heritage students who wish to learn more about Italian history, language, food, and current events.

Columbia Engineering stands uniquely apart from other programs by incorporating several in-depth humanities and writing classes into the graduation requirements. I believe that looking at critical issues with an open mind and sophisticated grasp of the humanities is extremely important to being an engineer. For example, I could not imagine exploring the future of quantum cryptography without considering the political ripple effects of Edward Snowden, the moral ramifications of the quantum encryption revolution, and the relationship between technology and income inequality. I am confident that I will thrive in the Columbia culture of passionate engagement and vibrant, energetic conversation.

Why does this essay work?

It answers the prompt specifically.

This essay gives examples of personal experience with the school and proves that the applicant did their research: they present clear evidence as to how engineering students are involved on campus and talk about specific academic courses.

There are many impressive details in this essay, and the section that addresses extracurriculars is cleverly written to showcase the applicant's diverse interests. This student's mention of certain extracurriculars they want to do indicates that they looked at many facets of Columbia University, not just the engineering department.

It's clear from this essay just how the author views their fit at Columbia. They've talked about specific organizations they would like to be a part of, such as the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs, while also showing why they want to join that organization.

Additionally, the applicant mentions a Columbia University student they spoke with, which means they took getting to know the student body seriously and really wanted to find out what Columbia students were like to see whether they, too, would fit in.

The conversation with the Columbia alum also emphasizes the applicant's initiative: they're willing to go above and beyond to learn about the school.

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Conclusion: Writing a Great "Why Columbia" Essay

The purpose of the "Why Columbia" essay is for you to prove to the admissions committee that Columbia is the best school for you

In your essay, you could write about multiple topics that are specific to Columbia, such as academics, the student body, extracurriculars, and research opportunities.

When writing your "Why Columbia" essay, make sure to research the school extensively and be specific about activities and opportunities that really make you want to attend.

If you're stuck on how to proceed, analyzing a successful "Why Columbia" essay example might help you get inspiration for what to write.

What's Next?

How tough is it to get into Columbia? For answers, read our expert guide on how to get into Columbia and the Ivy League , written by a Harvard alum!

Should you apply early or regular decision to college? Find out the pros and cons of early decision .

Want to see some more college essay examples? We have links to 100+ great college essays that includes our expert analysis on how you can write a stand-out essay of your own.

Want to write the perfect college application essay?   We can help.   Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will help you craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay to proudly submit to colleges.   Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now:

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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  21. How to Write a Stand-Out "Why Columbia" Essay

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