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Mba personal statement examples.

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MBA Personal Statement Sample Essays & Tips

Your academic record, GMAT scores, and GPA are important factors in the MBA application process. But, more than that, business schools ultimately care about who you are and whether you would be a good fit for their program. This is where your application essays come in. The goal here is to complete the picture that your scores and stats began sketching. Take your time when writing these essays. They will form the image the admissions committee will see before they meet you at your interview. Write, edit, and edit again. Be sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your essay. You want your portrait to be clean and clear. Once you are satisfied with your essay, ask a trusted friend, mentor, or admissions pro to read it. A fresh pair of eyes can often see things that you can’t.

7 tips for creating the best MBA essays

Here are some important things to remember when writing your MBA essays.

  • Show who you are in a background essay Use this opportunity to reveal your values and personality, the obstacles you’ve overcome, and the seminal experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today. No two people have the same history. Use stories and examples to make your background bright and stand out to demonstrate what makes you special. Discuss how your history has brought you to this point. What is there in your background that compels you to pursue an MBA at this time?
  • Show your direction in the goals essay Use this opportunity to show that you have clear direction and purpose based on experience and planning. Business school is not another opportunity to “find yourself.” Even if you have had one career path and will use your MBA to launch another career, this essay must describe the reasons behind your career-change, your new goals, and how the program will help you achieve them.
  • Use your optional essay to explain negatives in your stats If your GPA was lower than you would have liked early in your undergraduate education, use your essay to show how you learned from this experience. Everyone makes mistakes. How you deal with your mistakes shows a lot to the admissions committee – determination, discipline, success, resilience, and breadth of experience are qualities that will serve you well in your MBA studies and later in life. Be sure that you explain your negatives and don’t try to justify them. Show that you understand the mistake you made, learned from it and changed as a result of processing the experience. That response shows maturity. Justifying – instead of learning or changing – is a sign of immaturity. MBA programs want mature adults. Almost all of them have made mistakes.
  • Say what you mean, and mean what you say Admissions committees read thousands of essays during each admissions round. A concise, well thought-out essay will have them reading yours to the end.  You need examples and stories to support your statements and make your essay interesting and readable. Each of these needs to be to the point. These professionals are trained to spot an essay that is full of fluff and without substance.Avoid rambling and the use of keywords that you think the reader wants to see. A non-substantive essay will lead the reader to conclude that you, too, are without substance.
  • Find your passion This relates to tip #4 above. You want to grab the reader right away and create an essay that will keep their attention to the very end – and leave them wanting to meet you and get to know you even better. In other words, offer you a coveted interview! Find a theme, and weave it throughout your essay. If you can identify a passion that you had from an early age and follow it through the different stages of your life, you will have an interesting, readable essay. Connect your passion to your childhood and you professional and extracurricular experiences and accomplishments. Demonstrate how your passion will influence your future career and serve the community at the school you want to attend.
  • Focus on your professional experience and achievements Not everyone has a passion that they have carried with them throughout their life. However, since you are planning on attending an MBA program, you must have had professional and personal achievements. Highlight your professional skills and successes, as well as personal accomplishments. Show how these experiences and achievements have brought you to this point, and how they have influenced your long-term plans and reasons for pursuing an MBA.
  • Highlight your experience in your EMBA essay An applicant to an Executive MBA program is an executive or manager currently in the workforce, usually with at least eight years of business experience. As an EMBA student you will be expected to excel in your coursework while continuing to hold down your full-time job. You must demonstrate significant leadership, impact, potential, and the legitimate need for the degree to be accepted. Highlight your current responsibilities and recent achievements, as well as your skill sets. Discuss your goals and how an EMBA will help you reach them. Include how you will positively impact the community at the program you are applying to.

Read MBA Personal Statement Examples

Now that you have the tools to write your compelling essay, check out our sample MBA application essays to see what you will be able to accomplish.

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BONUS: You'll also receive a free copy of our popular guide,  5 Fatal Flaws To Avoid in Your MBA Applications Essays.

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50 MBA Essays That Got Applicants Admitted To Harvard & Stanford

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What Matters? and What More? is a collection of 50 application essays written by successful MBA candidates to Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business

What Matters? and What More? is a collection of 50 application essays written by successful MBA candidates to Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business

I sat alone one Saturday night in a boardroom in Eastern Oregon, miles from home, my laptop lighting the room. I was painstakingly reviewing a complex spreadsheet of household energy consumption data, cell by cell. ‘Why am I doing this to myself? For remote transmission lines?’…I felt dejected. I’d felt that way before, during my summer at JP Morgan, standing alone in the printing room at 3 a.m., binding decks for a paper mill merger that wouldn’t affect my life in the least.

That’s how an analyst at an MBB firm started his MBA application essay to Stanford Graduate School of Business. His point: In a well-crafted essay, he confronts the challenge of finding meaning in his work and a place where he can make a meaningful difference. That is what really matters most to him, and his answer to Stanford’s iconic MBA application essay helped get him defy the formidable odds of acceptance and gain an admit to the school.

Getting into the prestigious MBA programs at either Stanford Graduate School of Business or Harvard Business School are among the most difficult journeys any young professional can make.

NEARLY 17,000 CANDIDATES APPLIED TO HARVARD & STANFORD LAST YEAR. 1,500 GOT IN

mba essays examples

This collection of 50 successful HBS and GSB essays, with smart commentary, can be downloaded for $60

They are two of the most selective schools, routinely rejecting nine or more out of every ten applicants. Last year alone, 16,628 candidates applied to both schools; just 1,520 gained an acceptance, a mere 9.1% admit rate.

Business school admissions are holistic, meaning that while standardized test scores and undergraduate transcripts are a critical part of the admissions process, they aren’t the whole story. In fact, the stories that applicants tell the schools in the form of essays can be a critical component of a successful application.

So what kinds of stories are successful applicants to Harvard and Stanford telling their admission officers? For the first time ever, a newly published collection of 50 of these essays from current MBA students at these two schools has been published. In ten cases, applicants share the essays they wrote in applying to both schools so you can see whether they merely did a cut-and-paste job or approached the task anew. The 188-page book, What Matters? and What More?, gains its title from the two iconic essay prompts at Harvard and Stanford.

THOUGHTFUL CRITIQUES OF THE ESSAYS

Stanford can easily boast having the most difficult question posed to MBA applicants in any given year: In 650 words or less, candidates must tell the school what matters most to them and why. Harvard gives applicants ample room to hang themselves, providing no word limit at all, “What more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?”

One makes this unusual collection of essays powerful are the thoughtful critiques by the founders of two MBA admissions consulting firms, Jeremy Shinewald of mbaMission and Liza Weale of Gatehouse Admissions. They write overviews of each essay in the book and then tear apart portions by paragraphs to either underline a point or address a weakness. The book became available to download for $60 a pop.

As I note in a foreword to the collection, published in partnership with Poets&Quants, the essay portion of an application is where a person can give voice to who they are, what they have achieved so far, and what they imagine their future to be. Yet crafting a powerful and introspective essay can be incredibly daunting as you stare at a blank computer screen.

APPLICANTS OPEN UP WITH INTIMATE STORIES THAT SHOW VULNERABILITY

One successful applicant to Harvard Business School begins his essay by conveying a deeply personal story: The time his father was told that he had three months to live, with his only hope being a double lung transplant. had to undergo a lung transplant. His opening line: “Despite all we had been through in recent years, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I asked my mother one summer evening in Singapore, ‘What role did I play during those tough times?’”

For this candidate to Stanford Graduate School of Business, the essay provided a chance to creatively engage admission readers about what matters most to him–equality-by cleverly using zip codes as a hook.

60605, 60606, 60607.

These zip codes are just one digit apart, but the difference that digit makes in someone’s life is unfathomable. I realized this on my first day as a high school senior. Leafing through my out-of- date, stained, calculus textbook, I kept picturing the new books that my friend from a neighboring (more affluent) district had. As college acceptances came in, I saw educational inequality’s more lasting effects—my friends from affluent districts that better funded education were headed to prestigious universities, while most of my classmates were only accepted by the local junior college. I was unsettled that this divergence wasn’t the students’ doing, but rather institutionalized by the state’s education system. Since this experience, I realized that the fight for education equality will be won through equal opportunity. Overcoming inequality, to ensure that everyone has a fair shake at success, is what matters most to me.

HOW AN APPLICANT TO BOTH SCHOOLS ALTERED HIS ESSAYS

Yet another candidate, who applied to both Harvard and Stanford, writes about being at but not fully present at his friend’s wedding.

The morning after serving as my friend’s best man, I was waiting for my Uber to the airport and—as usual—scrolling through my phone,” he wrote. “I had taken seemingly hundreds of photos of the event, posting in real time to social media, but had not really looked through them. With growing unease, I noticed people and things that had not registered with me the night before and realized I had been so preoccupied with capturing the occasion on my phone that I had essentially missed the whole thing. I never learned the name of the woman beside me at the reception. I could not recall the wedding cake flavor. I never introduced myself to my friend’s grandfather from Edmonton. I was so mortified that before checking into my flight, I turned my phone off and stuffed it into my carry-on.

The Stanford version of his essay is more compact. In truth, it’s more succinctly written and more satisfying because it is to the point. By stripping away all but the most critical pieces of his narrative, the candidate focuses his essay entirely on his central point: the battle of man versus technology.

Even if you’re not applying to business school, the essays are entertaining and fun to read. Sure, precious few are New Yorker worthy. In fact, many are fairly straightforward tales, simply told. What the successful essays clearly show is that there is no cookie-cutter formula or paint-by-the-numbers approach. Some start bluntly and straightforwardly, without a compelling or even interesting opening. Some meander through different themes. Some betray real personality and passion. Others are frankly boring. If a pattern of any kind could be discerned, it is how genuine the essays read.

The greatest benefit of reading them? For obsessive applicants to two of the very best business schools, they’ll take a lot of pressure off of you because they are quite imperfect.

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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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20 Must-Read MBA Essay Tips

Business essay tips

Business school admissions committees care about more than (just) your  GMAT scores and GPA —they want to know who you are and why you belong in their program . Your MBA essays are your best chance to sell the person behind the résumé. They should tie all the pieces of your business school application together and create a comprehensive picture of who you are, what you've done, and what you bring to the table.  Here's a roundup of our best MBA essay tips to keep in mind as you begin to write.

How to Write an Unforgettable B-School Essay

1. communicate that you are a proactive, can-do sort of person..

Business schools want leaders, not applicants content with following the herd.

2. Put yourself on ego-alert.

Stress what makes you unique, not what makes you number one.

3. Communicate specific reasons why you're great fit for each school.

Simply stating "I am the ideal candidate for your program" won't convince the admission committee to push you into the admit pile.

Read More: Find Your Business School

4. Bring passion to your writing.

Admissions officers want to know what excites you. And if you'll bring a similar enthusiasm to the classroom.

5. Break the mold.

Challenge perceptions with unexpected essays that say, "There's more to me than you think."

6. If you've taken an unorthodox path to business school, play it up.

Admissions officers appreciate risk-takers.

7. Talk about your gender, ethnicity, minority status or foreign background....

But only if it has affected your outlook or experiences.

8. Fill your essays with plenty of real-life examples.

Specific anecdotes and vivid details make a much greater impact than general claims and broad summaries.

9. Demonstrate a sense of humor or vulnerability.

You're a real person, and it's okay to show it!

BONUS: Don't Make These MBA Essay Mistakes

1. write about your high school glory days. .

Admissions committees don't care if you were editor of the yearbook or captain of the varsity team. They expect their candidates to have moved onto more current, professional achievements.

2. Submit essays that don't answer the questions.

An off-topic essay, or one that merely restates your résumé, will frustrate and bore the admissions committee. More importantly, it won't lead to any new insight about you.

Attend UNC's top-ranked online MBA program without putting your career on hold. See how.

3. Fill essays with industry jargon.

Construct your essays with only enough detail about your job to frame your story and make your point.

4. Reveal half-baked reasons for wanting the MBA.

Admissions officers favor applicants who have well-defined goals. However unsure you are about your future, it's critical that you demonstrate that you have a plan.

5. Exceed the recommended word limits.

This suggests you don't know how to follow directions, operate within constraints or organize your thoughts.

6. Submit an application full of typos and grammatical errors.

A sloppy application suggests a sloppy attitude.

7. Send one school an essay intended for another—or forget to change the school name when using the same essay for several applications.

Admissions committees are (understandably) insulted when they see another school's name or forms.

8. Make excuses.

If your undergraduate experience was one long party, be honest. Discuss how you've matured, both personally and professionally.

9. Be impersonal in the personal statement.

Many applicants avoid the personal like the plague. Instead of talking about how putting themselves through school lowered their GPA, they talk about the rising cost of tuition in America. Admissions officers want to know about YOU.

Read More: How to Ace Your MBA Interview

10. Make too many generalizations.

An essay full of generalizations is a giveaway that you don't have anything to say.

11. Write in a vacuum.

Make sure that each of your essays reinforce and build on the others to present a consistent and compelling representation of who you are, what you've done, and what you bring to the table.

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2 MBA Admissions Essays That Worked

These outstanding MBA personal statements resulted in admissions offers.

2 MBA Essays That Worked

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MBA admissions officials say they prefer personal statements that convey personality and demonstrate grit.

There is no secret formula to writing a compelling personal statement for an MBA application, university admissions officials say.

The key, they say, is to write a statement that feels authentic and makes your case.

Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean for admissions at the Yale University School of Management , is wary of personal statements that tell dramatic stories and stretch the truth. He says he is not looking for students to have exotic experiences, but for evidence of resilience, introspection and initiative.

Yale's business school recruits students identified as unselfish leaders – those who strive to improve the circumstances of others and help themselves rather than those who exploit others for personal gain, DelMonico says.

"We are looking to bring in students who will be inclusive leaders and who will bring people together," DelMonico says.

William Rieth, former senior director with the Fox School of Business at Temple University , says applicants sometimes struggle to write a memorable personal statement, but being memorable is vital.

"Students need to remember their audience," he says. "Schools are reading thousands of essays."

He says a solid personal statement requires a "compelling story" and an honest writing voice. "It should reflect your personality and sound like you."

How to Write an MBA Application Essay: A Few Tips

MBA admissions experts say a business school application essay should offer a convincing argument about why a candidate belongs in an MBA program at that particular school.

Wayne Hutchison, managing director for the MBA program at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business , urges prospective MBA students to explain their reasons for applying to B-school and to describe whatever incidents spurred their interest in graduate business education.

"In addition, applicants should discuss the skills and abilities they have that will translate to academic and professional success," Hutchison wrote in an email, noting that failing to include this information can lead admissions officers to question an MBA hopeful's competitiveness.

Aaron Burch, who earned his MBA degree from the University of Texas—Austin's McCombs School of Business , says MBA essays should address the following questions:

  • "What do you want to accomplish career-wise that either requires an MBA or will be accelerated by an MBA?"
  • "Why is this the exact point in your career where an MBA would be most impactful?"
  • "What about this particular school is especially important for your career plans?"
  • "How will you contribute?"

Burch, owner of DiscoverContainers.com – a website that provides information about shipping container houses – suggests that MBA students convey that they are at a point in their careers where they can "pivot without being pigeonholed" while having meaningful accomplishments, including "real responsibility."

It's also essential for MBA candidates to showcase what they have to offer a B-school, Burch wrote in an email. "You want to demonstrate that you're not just a taker and you want to add to the prestige and reputation of the school, add to the experience your future classmates will have, etc."

MBA alumni say it's crucial for prospective MBA students to describe how they intend to use an MBA .

"Admissions officers will want to understand your vision behind why an MBA might help you, so it's incumbent upon you to articulate the plan you have for yourself, and how their institution is going to help your journey," MBA degree recipient Taylor Constantine – the partner channel lead with Rain, a financial services company – wrote in an email.

Margo Bell, senior assistant director of admissions with Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School in California, notes that MBA essays are influential factors in the MBA admissions process. Application essays help B-school admissions committees gauge the compatibility of a prospective student with the culture and values of the institution.

"As applicants begin to write their MBA applicant essays, it’s important for prospective students to share who they are as an individual," Bell wrote in an email. "The essay allows MBA admission officers to get a better understanding of who you are, what you wish to accomplish and why you deserve to be accepted."

Michal Strahilevitz, associate professor of marketing with St. Mary's College of California , advises MBA applicants to view the application essay as an opportunity to provide context for deficits in their admissions profile. "For example, if your undergraduate grades were not great because you worked full time to pay for school, write about it," Strahilevitz explained in an email.

What to Keep in Mind About MBA Essay Prompts

MBA admissions consultants note that business schools often have distinctive essay prompts, so it's important for applicants to tailor their essay to every school where they apply.

"Each school asks a specific question in the essay, and one of the most important things you can do as an applicant is to answer that question – not the question you wished we asked or the one you want to answer," DelMonico wrote in an email. "The various elements of the application fit together, and we’re looking to get very specific pieces of information from the essay. So please follow the essay instructions you’re given and don’t feel as though you need to or should make the essay broader in scope."

Barbara Coward, founder of the MBA 360° Admissions Consulting firm based in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, notes that the first step in the essay writing process should be meticulously reading the question prompt. Think about the question for a few days while going about routine tasks so that ideas can "marinate."

Coward says that once prospective students have decided what they'd like to write about, they should let the words flow without filtering them because too much self-editing at the beginning of the creative process can interfere with productivity. Revisions and tweaks can come after an applicant has fully expressed his or her ideas.

Admissions experts note that MBA hopefuls who are struggling to figure out how to describe themselves may want to ask friends and family for advice. Prospective MBA students can also gain self-awareness by keeping a diary or creating a storyboard of their life.

Mistakes to Avoid in MBA Admission Essays

Taking too long to express the main idea or central thesis of an essay is a no-no, Coward says. Applicants should directly respond to a question and ensure that their essay is easily understood by an admissions officer. "Keep in mind that somebody is not reading a novel," she says. "They're going to be glancing through."

Excessively verbose essays don't make a good impression, Coward adds. Applicants should respect word limits and be concise, because doing otherwise creates extra work for admissions officers under time pressure, she explains.

Two other errors to avoid in MBA essays, Coward says, are being monotonous or melodramatic . It's important to have an introductory sentence that strikes the right tone, she adds. "You're not trying to create drama, but you don't want to put the person to sleep either," Coward says.

Examples of Outstanding MBA Essays

Here are two MBA essays that made the cut. The first is from the Fox School of Business and the second is from Yale. These essays are annotated with comments that explain why the essays charmed admissions committees.

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Tags: graduate schools , business school , MBAs , students

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7 tips for writing a winning mba application essay.

mba essays examples

Nervous about your MBA admissions essay? You’re not alone! Many applicants wonder how to put their best foot forward in a business school entrance essay.

In this article, I’ll tell you what admissions committees look for in application essays and offer MBA essay tips on how to make yours stand out. We’ll also take a look at the different kinds of business school essays and a few examples of MBA essay prompts.

Why Do Business Schools Ask for Essays? What Do They Look For?

Business schools ask for essays for several reasons, all of which help admissions committees determine whether you have the skills and traits to succeed in an MBA program.

First, MBA admissions committees want to see how you write. Communication skills—including concision, clarity, style, and fluency in English—will be essential to your success in business school. One way of discerning your level of writing ability is to require an original writing sample. In an MBA essay, you have to get your point across straightforwardly, elegantly, and concisely; being able to do this is a key element of succeeding in business school and the world of business in general.

Also, MBA admissions committees want to get a sense of who you are on a more personal level. MBA application essays tell admissions officials about you not only through what you say, but in how you say it. Are you self-aware, for example, and can you reflect on past challenges or mistakes in a thoughtful way? Do you demonstrate insight into who you are and your goals? How you answer questions about yourself, your career, and your journey can help MBA admissions officials discern your level of critical thinking and personal insight.

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You can have countless accomplishments, but to succeed in business school, you’ll also need to fit in with the campus climate, work well with your peers, and contribute to campus diversity in a meaningful way. The MBA essay is a place for you to talk about the background or experiences you have that are unique to you and that you believe could differentiate you from your colleagues and/or provide a fresh perspective to campus.

Finally, essays are a way for you to showcase the qualities that most MBA programs say they are looking for in applicants, such as leadership skills, community involvement, problem-solving skills, communication skills, clear goals, and a strong sense of ethics. Some of these traits might not be readily apparent from a resume alone, and an MBA essay can be a place for you to elaborate on how you’ve cultivated them in yourself.

The MBA essay is a great place for you to showcase your communication skills and dedication to community service.

MBA Entrance Essay Sample Prompts

Most MBA entrance essays ask you about one of several things. Many of them are variations on similar questions: the open-ended question, the leadership question, the personal growth question, questions on short- and long-term academic and career goals, and the diversity question. For each one, I’ll give an example of a real MBA essay prompt from 2016 or 2017.

#1: Open-Ended

The open-ended MBA application essay question is just that: open. It allows you to tell your own story, giving you quite a bit of freedom but also little to no guidance. For that reason, many applicants find it to be the most challenging MBA essay prompt.

Harvard Business School has only one essay for its MBA application, and it’s the quintessential open-ended MBA essay question. This is the prompt for 2017-2018 applicants.

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?

Note that, as in other open-ended MBA admission essay prompts, this question asks you to decide what you’ll write about. Successful Harvard applicants and HBS admissions counselors have advised applicants to use the prompt as a chance to demonstrate their past use of an especially desired trait, such as problem-solving skills. For example, many successful applicants use the prompt to describe a scenario in which they faced and overcame a challenge, especially as a leader or alongside a team.

Notably, Harvard also doesn’t list a word limit, so you can decide the appropriate length for your essay. However, most admissions counselors will advise you to keep it concise and straightforward.

#2: Leadership

Another common MBA essay prompt asks you to demonstrate your experience and skills as a leader. Leadership qualities are listed by nearly all MBA admissions counselors as fundamental to a career in business and, thus, to a successful business school application.

Let’s look at a sample leadership MBA essay prompt from Kellogg.

Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

In a response to this kind of prompt, you should be as specific as possible. Name the company you were working for or specifically describe the project you were heading. Who was on your team? What were your objectives? Did you meet them? How could you have done so more effectively?

While you shouldn’t be overly self-deprecating, don’t be afraid to address the challenges you met and how you overcame them (or would overcome them now, with more experience and knowledge). Remember that one important aspect of leadership is accountability, so if there were problems, don’t solely blame your team for them. Instead, reflect on how you successfully worked with your team to solve the problems, and/or on how you could have done so more effectively or efficiently.

#3: Personal Growth

The personal growth MBA admission essay prompt will ask you how you’ve changed in the past and how you want to grow in the future. Here’s one example from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

Don’t be afraid to get a bit personal with these kinds of prompts . They’re meant to gauge something about your personality and who you are, rather than only what you’ve done.

Many successful MBA admission essays that respond to these kinds of questions follow a past/present/future format. Ask yourself what traits you’ve gathered over the years that have benefited you personally and professionally, how you’ve improved, and what you’ve learned. What experiences have shaped you? Be as specific as possible.

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Then, take stock of yourself now: your career, your education, and where you see yourself in the future. What do you need in order to get there?

Finally, most essay MBA prompts in this vein (like Kellogg’s) will ask you how they can help you move towards that personal or professional goal. Be as specific as you can, focusing on the particular strengths of the prospective MBA program and how they match up with what you want to improve about yourself as a person, colleague, and leader.

You can use the MBA essay to showcase how you've grown personally and achieved your goals.

#4: Your Plan

Some MBA application essay prompts will ask you about your career goals and how attendance at a particular business school will help you to achieve them. Let’s look at one from the USC Marshall School of Business.

Essay #1 (Required) – What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (word limit: 100)

As you can see, questions like these often request brief responses. So get straight to the point, and give details. Name a specific job you’d like to hold, what you’d like to do there, and even particular companies if you can.

Questions like this one will require some research. Research alumni from your prospective business school who’ve ended up in positions comparable to ones you’d like to hold in the future, particular companies and positions that match up with your personal and professional goals, and specific coursework or industry experiences offered by your prospective business school that would help you get there.

#5: Diversity, Culture, and Community

Finally, some MBA essay prompts will ask you how your unique background and experiences would contribute to the overall diversity and collegial atmosphere of a school’s campus climate and community. Here’s one example from USC.

Essay #2 (Required) – At Marshall, we take pride in the fact that our students work collaboratively, both inside and outside the classroom, to create a culture, a community, and an environment that truly defines what we call the Trojan Family. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates during your time at USC. How will they benefit from your presence in the program? (word limit: 500)

You can respond to questions like this, depending on the wording of the original prompt, by discussing your cultural background, identity, and/or personal experiences that have given you particular insight into a given community or that have lent you a unique perspective that could be valuable to your colleagues as you collaborate.

You can also discuss past community service projects or issues you’re passionate about and how you plan to carry those experiences and passions into your work at your prospective MBA program.

What makes you unique? Showcase it in your MBA essay.

7 MBA Essay Tips

Writing MBA essays takes a particular skill set. Let’s go over the top seven MBA essay tips for making your application essay shine.

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#1: Write Early and Often

Even though MBA entrance essays are brief, they take a lot of polishing. Writing MBA essays takes time.

Don’t expect to write yours at the last minute or knock out a quality essay in a day. Most students need several drafts to make sure they’re getting their points across as elegantly and clearly as possible.

Start your essay well before the application deadline, when you don’t yet feel any pressure. For several weeks, don’t try to write at all. Instead, before crafting your essay for MBA admission, take notes on your past, present, and future. What have you learned? What unique experiences have you had? What have been the most meaningful projects you’ve undertaken? Ask friends, family, and mentors to tell you what they value most about you or what they see as your greatest personal and professional assets.

Only once you’ve gathered this material should you begin your first draft of your MBA application essay. Start with an outline for each one that includes the story you want to tell and the main points you want to get across.

Once you have a clear outline, you can start drafting. Taking the writing process seriously from start to finish will give you a much better product in the end than trying to write something hastily right before the deadline.

#2: Show, Don’t Tell

MBA admissions committees want to be able to tell that you have the qualities that are necessary to succeed in business school, such as leadership skills and integrity.

Your MBA admissions essay can be a great place to showcase those qualities. However, remember to show, not tell. Saying “I have strong leadership skills” doesn’t tell an admissions committee much. Through an anecdote about, say, meeting a difficult deadline or overcoming an obstacle, a reader should be able to tell that you have the qualities of a strong leader without your having to say so explicitly.

#3: Research Your Goals

When describing your future goals, be as specific as possible. Business schools know that your goals may change in the future, but stating specific goals now will show that you’ve done your research and have an idea of what you want and how an MBA program can help you get there.

Before writing your essay for MBA admission, research the ins and outs of the industry you want to enter, the position you’d like to have, companies you might like to work for, and coursework and internships or fieldwork that could aid you on your way to those goals.

#4: Keep It Concise

Never, ever go over a stated word count limit when you’re writing your essay for MBA admission. It might be tempting, but business schools want to see that you can get your point across concisely and straightforwardly.This rule goes for MBA essay prompts that don’t have specific word counts, too: sometimes, less is more.

One of the biggest mistakes applicants make in writing an essay for MBA admission is to use too much flowery language to come across as more professional. If you do this, it can be distracting and cause the admissions committee to miss the main points you’re making.

Bottom line, trim anything extraneous from your essay —that is, anything that doesn’t actively support the main point(s) you’re trying to get across.

When it comes to an MBA essay, sometimes less is more.

#5: Show Self-Awareness

It might feel tempting to use the MBA admission essay as a space to list all of your accomplishments (and since your resume is already part of your application, this is unnecessary), but MBA admissions committees would rather see that you have insight into both your strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, and in your essay for MBA admission, you shouldn’t try to come across as if you’ve never made a mistake or faced a challenge that you’ve had to learn from.

Also, in business school and the business world at large, bouncing back from failures, being flexible, and problem solving are all essential skills. All of them require a thick skin and awareness of what you could do better.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t showcase your achievements, but if you’re asked about personal growth or an obstacle you’ve overcome, be clear about what you could have done more effectively in the past (at a job or in your education, for example) and the steps you’ve taken or will take to sidestep that mistake in the future.

#6: Share Your Personal Journey

Many applicants would prefer to focus only on their professional backgrounds and goals in their MBA essays, but you shouldn’t be afraid to get personal in your essay. You don’t need to tell your whole life story, but especially in response to questions that ask about your growth over time, you should showcase your personality and give the admissions committee an idea of your personal background and experiences.

#7: Ask for Edits

It might seem obvious, but many applicants don’t do it: proofread your work! When writing MBA essays, revision is key. Turning in an MBA essay with typos and other errors will come off as thoughtless and unprofessional.

You should also get a second (and, perhaps, a third and fourth) pair of eyes on your essay to make sure it’s coming across as you want it to. Going through several rounds of drafts is a necessary part of the writing process to ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward in your MBA entrance essay.

Revise your MBA essay until it comes across exactly how you want.

What’s Next?

Worried about how your GMAT score matches up to other applicants’? Find out more in our list of average GMAT scores by school.

Concerned about your chances of getting into an MBA program? Our guide to business school acceptance rates will help.

Ready to apply to business school? Check out our top eight tips for applying to MBA programs here.

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mba essays examples

Author: Laura Dorwart

Laura Dorwart is a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego. She has taught and tutored hundreds of students in standardized testing, literature, and writing. View all posts by Laura Dorwart

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  • How to Write a Great MBA Personal Statement

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For many candidates, writing essays for business school applications can feel intimidating because of the slim margin for error. Admissions officers at highly selective business schools look for justifications to reject candidates, and when they cannot find those justifications in work experience, undergraduate grades, or admissions test scores, they search for them in application essays. “Your personal story is what will set you apart from other applicants,” according to Poets & Quants contributor and Personal MBA coach Scott Edinburgh.

Best practices in application essay writing indeed exist, although some of them are not obvious and a few may seem counterintuitive. BSchools editors reviewed the analysis, advice from several authorities, and essay examples from admitted students. Although this information is mainly sourced from essays submitted to the Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business , the principles outlined below apply to any top MBA program, whether on-campus, executive, or online.

Before discussing the findings, it should be noted that schools have shifted from experimentation to implementing high-tech replacements for their written application essays, according to Poets & Quants . Since 2020, most business schools require video submissions of essay questions in the application process, including London Business School and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. MIT’s video essay gives candidates sixty seconds to present themselves in one shot, while New York University asks for six captioned images describing candidates.

Below is an overview of the most frequent application essay prompts or discussion topics and best practices for writing.

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Common mba application essay prompts.

Most application essay prompts can be divided into five categories: introduction, career objectives, school selection motivation, achievements and setbacks, and additional optional essays.

Introduction (“Introduce Yourself”) Prompts

These prompts ask applicants to introduce themselves to the admissions committee members. Here the actual class of 2023 required essay prompt from Harvard:

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores, and what your recommenders have to say about you. 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?

A variant includes a previous Harvard prompt asking candidates what they would say when introducing themselves to other new students on the first day of classes. Stanford’s famous embodiment of this prompt simply reads:

“What matters most to you and why?”

Career Objective Prompts

These prompts ask applicants to explain their career goals and why they believe an MBA is necessary to accomplish those goals.

School Selection Motivation Prompts

These prompts ask candidates to discuss why they want to attend that particular business school and the benefits the school and classmates will receive should they win admission. Experts believe this topic is highly significant to admissions officers and needs to be incorporated into most essays—especially introduction essays—in some fashion.

Achievements and Setbacks Prompts

These prompts request discussions of inflection points in an applicant’s career. The questions seek to uncover what contributed to these accomplishments, how they recovered from setbacks, and what candidates learned from them.

Additional Optional Essays

This last prompt typically asks applicants to discuss any additional topics about which admissions committees need to know before rendering decisions.

Essay Writing Best Practices

Essay structure.

Writing expert and admissions consultant, Sandy Kreisberg, offers a great deal of insight about successful application essays. In an interview with Poets & Quants , she points out that many successful HBS essays follow a typical structure. First, they state the applicant’s goals, then identify three or four crucial experiences that helped shape those goals. Frequently, candidates also include how those experiences helped form their values. Another admissions consultant argues that emphasizing values is necessary within any approach or structure.

Frequent Essay Themes

Admissions consultant Stacy Blackman advises clients to select themes that will enable them to display qualities HBS highly values , especially drive, accomplishment, and leadership:

We have found that both personal and career-oriented topics can work, and most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past, we have observed that successful HBS essays also demonstrate a core driving passion […] HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and really loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential. Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and using at least one accomplishment story in this essay may be a good strategy.

According to Kreisberg, frequent themes include overcoming adversity, helping others overcome adversity, overcoming victimization, or assisting others in overcoming victimization. In fact, he argues that this theme accounted for as much as 70 percent of recent Stanford Business School essays. In addition, Kreisberg says absent parents, especially absent fathers, embody themes in many successful Harvard essays from 2014 and 2015.

Voice Is The Most Important Factor

By saying that “voice trumps everything,” Kreisberg points out that the voice with which candidates speak through their essays can be more important than any other aspect of application essay writing. Characteristics of a “good voice” include :

The essay must convey that, above all, the candidate seems like a genuinely likable person. If it does not, the piece can render an otherwise outstanding candidate vulnerable to a “ding,” which is business school lingo for a denial. According to Kreisberg, the critical test the HBS admission committee reportedly relies on is this question: Is this someone you would want to sit next to in a case method class?

Authenticity, Sincerity, and Vulnerability

All experts agree that authenticity is a necessary winning essay hallmark. Admissions consultant Eric Allen states, “The key character traits built from your personal, professional, and community stories and experiences that provide a unique and authentic story differentiating you from other applicants.” It may be surprising how many MBA application essays display vulnerability because this quality is not generally associated with business leaders.

Reflectiveness

Candidates need to present examples demonstrating their introspection and self-awareness.

One of the most difficult challenges of application essay composition is figuring out a balance between presenting a string of impressive accomplishments while also being humble. Unfortunately, any form of bragging in an essay amounts to self-sabotage.

Thoughtfulness

Candidates must show careful attention, especially to other people’s needs.

Cohort-appropriateness

Ideally, candidates need to sound like previous applicants from the same industry. For example, applicants with work experience in investment banking need to sound like students the school accepted with investment banking experience, applicants with military experience need to sound like students the school admitted from the armed services, and so on.

Writing Quality

Many experts suggest that effective application essays do not need to be exceptionally well-written. They contend that admissions committees overlook less-than-perfect writing as long as applicants deliver compelling pitches. Business schools are interested in selecting and training future business leaders, not Pulitzer Prize-winning writers.

Moreover, the reviewed HBS essays do not appear to be particularly well-written. The errors and defects found in the samples suggested that the authors won admission because of other factors, like their work experience, undergraduate grades, or admissions test scores. Nevertheless, the most successful essays appear to demonstrate many characteristics of good writing, such as:

Powerful, Compelling, and Sometimes Shocking Introductions

“In all essay writing, of course, you learn that a lead, the way you entice a reader into your writing, is all-important, in part, because it should generally be compelling enough to grab someone and make them want to read on. In that regard, there are some fairly grabby leads,” according to Byrne , who knows how a significant lead reads; he was a magazine editor at BusinessWeek and FastCompany.

Consider for a moment why a powerful lead can be critical in this kind of essay. A typical admission committee member might review as many as 30 or 40 of these essays within candidate files on average. A compelling lead not only differentiates an article in the mind of that reviewer, but also grabs their attention.

The best essays display compelling first paragraphs and lead with first sentences that grab readers’ attention through vivid, shocking images. Here is a remarkable example:

“You are a woman AND a vegetarian! You will never make it at this place”. As a senior midshipman screamed those words at me from across the table, I instantly decided to change the one aspect of that statement within my control. I scarfed down Stouffer’s meat lasagna during my first dinner at the United States Naval Academy and wracked my brain, pondering how the females before me had survived. After leaving the comfort of my childhood home, I found myself blindsided by a brutal indoctrination into the male-dominated military.

The contention and excitement in the first sentence virtually guarantee further reading because it arouses the reader’s curiosity about what sort of place the applicant ended up treating women (and vegetarians) with such disrespect. The writer eventually introduces the controversial topic of male domination of organizations and explains how she adapted to that domination and finally overcame it.

Here is another compelling introduction:

During my first year in college, my parents declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy was caused by my father’s growing drug addiction and it had a cascading impact on our entire family. Since my parents were co-signers on my student loans, our bank refused to renew them after my first year. I did a number of things to get by, including working three jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. I also tried to support my dad by helping to manage his rehabilitation process as much as a teenager reasonably could.

Displaying vulnerability, this example surprises readers who may not expect an HBS student to have faced damaging family issues like bankruptcy and drug addiction. The lead also arouses the curiosity of readers who want to know how the applicant eventually overcame these traumas.

Active Voice and Verbs

The best essays tend to avoid the passive voice . Notice the active voice and the vivid choice of the verbs in the below essay:

After college, I joined the Ivy Club in D.C., serving as the chair of Young Alums. The club had declining admissions, so I galvanized support by changing its mission and expanding its demographics […] Still, I craved more impact and contribution to a company’s success […] Now I thrive on helping other people and organizations do the same: identify problems, then clarify and meet their goals.

Essay Length and Word Limits

Some universities do not specify word limits for their essays. However, the best pieces display judicious word counts, sometimes in two separate essays. MBA Mission explains in more detail:

In the past, when Chicago Booth required only one essay, we often suggested 1,000 words as a guide; now with two essays, we propose keeping your responses to 500–600 words each. Approximately double the minimum seems to be a reasonable high-end target, though you will not be rejected from the applicant pool for going even higher. That said, we would recommend 1,000 words per essay as the absolute upper limit, and only in exceedingly rare cases.

Stacy Blackman concurs, saying that essays should be under 1,200 words. It is always easier to cut words down than add more during the editing process. A good rule of thumb is to write until the essay feels complete, and then take a second pass through the article essay to cut any unnecessary words.

Sample Harvard Business School Essay

The following outstanding Harvard Business School essay —which was written by a published author—satisfies all of the above criteria. It is an inspiring, compelling, and well-written example that can be read below in its entirety, followed by a brief analysis from Harbus, the essay’s publisher. .

In 2012, I realized a life ambition—I completed my first novel, all while working full time at [Top U.S. Investment Bank]. I could not wait to share it with the world and eagerly went in search of a literary agent. But each agent I contacted declined to represent my novel.

Nevertheless, I was passionate about my work and was determined to put it into readers’ hands. In true entrepreneurial fashion, I self-published my novel through the digital platforms Smashwords and Createspace. I worked with a promotional expert to organize a month-long book tour to promote the book to prominent book bloggers and their readers. The result? My novel has received multiple 5-star reader reviews, from Amazon to Goodreads, and was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Storytelling is my lifelong passion; it saw me through a difficult childhood. After my father left, my mother raised me as a single parent in [U.S. City/State], a rural Bible Belt town two hours south of [U.S. State]. We did not have much money and that coupled with my bookishness made me a target for bullies. Books and writing were an escape; they gave me an avenue to articulate the feelings of abandonment and powerlessness I otherwise did not want to express. Writing made me happy and the more I wrote, the more my talent blossomed. I began to win awards and my work was published in youth literary journals. These experiences made me more confident, a key part of my success later in life. It all started with a pen, a notebook, and my imagination.

Stories are an integral part of the human experience. They uplift and inspire, give us permission to dream and to visualize what could be. Storytelling has been an integral part of my career, from building financial models at [Top U.S. Investment Bank] that illustrated my expectations for the companies that I covered to delivering a presentation to [International Daily Newspaper]’s chief revenue officer explaining why reducing ad prices for tender house advertisers would not lead to an increase in revenue.

My passion has also informed my growth as a leader; I believe my most impactful expressions of leadership have been my efforts to help others write the narratives of their own lives and careers. At [Top U.S. Investment Bank], I created an informal mentorship program for female and minority interns and first-year analysts in the research division and led a “soft skills” class to help new analysts handle difficult interpersonal situations. For four years, I’ve mentored a young Hispanic woman through Student Sponsor Partners, a nonprofit that gives low-income students scholarships to private high schools. Being a mentor gave me the privilege of guiding another first generation college student along what I know can be a lonely, difficult path. This fall, she started college with a full scholarship.

Storytelling will be a part of my future career path; as an MBA graduate, my goal is to obtain a position in strategy and business development at an entertainment company that specializes in film or television. Long term, I want to start a multimedia and merchandising company with a publishing arm (books and magazines) as well as film, TV, and digital operations. Using strong, fictional heroines and informative lifestyle content, my company’s goal will be to educate and inspire women to become their best selves. My particular focus is creating compelling, multidimensional characters to inspire young women of color, who are constantly bombarded by negative images of women who look like them in media.

I’m pursuing a Harvard MBA because I want to become a better business strategist and strong general manager. Also, I want to further develop my leadership and presentation skills as I will manage professionals on the content and business side; it will be my task to unite them behind a shared strategic vision. Specifically, I want to learn how to motivate teams and individuals to perform at their highest level, and to become more adept at persuasion and generating “buy-in” from others. Harvard’s unique approach using the case method and emphasis on leadership development will challenge me to grow in both these areas. I also feel that I have much to contribute to Harvard’s community. My varied background in finance and media has given me a unique perspective that will be valuable in classroom discussions and team projects. I want to share my passion for the entertainment industry with my classmates by chairing the Entertainment & Media club and planning conferences, career treks, and other opportunities.

My background gives me the capacity for fearless thinking that is needed to meet the challenges of the entertainment industry’s shifting landscape. A Harvard MBA will strengthen that foundation and help me to become the kind of dynamic leader who can bring the vision for my own company to life and be at the forefront of entertainment’s structural shift.

A brief analysis from Harbus:

The author sets the stage for the remainder of the essay by first presenting a notable accomplishment of hers and then explicitly illustrating the entrepreneurial drive and diligence she used to see it through. More importantly, the author’s opening introduces a theme—storytelling—that is consistently interwoven through different stages of her life. The reader is led through the author’s childhood, professional and extracurricular experiences, along with accomplishments, all the while being reminded of the integral role storytelling has played. Beyond highlighting her gift, or passion for the art of storytelling, the author goes on to connect this theme with her future career ambitions, as well as describe how this could also serve the HBS community.

Douglas Mark

While a partner in a San Francisco marketing and design firm, for over 20 years Douglas Mark wrote online and print content for the world’s biggest brands , including United Airlines, Union Bank, Ziff Davis, Sebastiani, and AT&T. Since his first magazine article appeared in MacUser in 1995, he’s also written on finance and graduate business education in addition to mobile online devices, apps, and technology. Doug graduated in the top 1 percent of his class with a business administration degree from the University of Illinois and studied computer science at Stanford University.

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MBA Personal Statement Tips and a Sample Essay

December 7, 2023

Jeremy Shinewald

“What are your goals, and why do you need an MBA from our school?” Virtually all MBA programs ask some version of this question, which is typically referred to as a personal statement. And you must answer this question thoughtfully and with detail. So, what should you write to achieve this?

Why Do So Many MBA Programs Require a Personal Statement?

Let’s start with why business schools ask this type of question of its applicants. Simply put, MBA admissions committees want to know, without a doubt, that you have a clear plan for your future and that their school can get you there. Revealing that “fit” with your target MBA program is absolutely critical. Admissions committees want to protect their yield – the number of acceptances divided by the number of offers they give out. In other words, how confident are they that you will accept their offer if it is given? You need to show the admissions committee that you really fit with their program through your personal statement—or they just might give your place to someone else who is able to prove that fit!

What Are The Components of an MBA Personal Statement?

While every MBA personal statement will vary slightly, the general components will be the same across the board. In a way, each personal statement will include something about your past, present, and future, which we’ll dive deeper into later in this post.

First, you need to include some context. Even if a business school does not ask about your professional or personal history, you still need to explain where you are coming from in order to explain where you are going…this is your past. Next, your goals are a key element of a personal statement. You need to share your plan for the future. In some personal statement prompts, you will be asked specifically about short AND long-term goals, and some will only ask for “goals” generally. What is important is that your goals be well thought-out and ambitious but attainable. Lastly, you will need to include why that school can help you reach those goals. This is where you connect your context and goals to reveal how your MBA from that school is what will make those goals happen…your present (or hopeful present, at least!).

How To Write About Your Post-MBA Career Goals

While your short-term post-MBA goals may be clear to you, the long-term often trips applicants up. How do you know what you really want to do so far in the future? As someone who has helped countless applicants perfect their MBA personal statement, I can tell you that admissions committees know your actual goals may change during your time at business school, and that is OK! However, what is important is that your short-term goals are clear AND that your overall goals are plausible. You need to share goals that you can reasonably achieve – there must be a path between where you have been and where you are going. Unclear or improbable goals are a major reason MBA applicants get dinged, so do your homework and make sure that path is crystal clear in your personal statement.

As an example, if you are an operations analyst and would like to move into consulting, you can share how you want to join a rotational management program, or how you plan to launch a search fund focused on operationally challenged businesses. Both of those paths seem plausible.

An important note: MBA admissions committees actually have no preference for one path over another. They just want to learn that you are passionate about your chosen path, that their MBA program can help you on that path, and that you will be successful after your MBA is over. 

When it comes specifically to long-term post-MBA goals, you only need to consider an ideal. If everything works out, this is where I would like to be. These goals should not be wildly ambitious or out of reach – again, you need to prove to the admissions committee that your goals are attainable – but they do need to be exciting.

Conducting Research On Your MBA Programs

In order to write about why a particular MBA program will help you attain your goals, you must conduct extensive research on your target schools. If a school asks “why us” you MUST be able to answer thoughtfully and specifically.

Here are a few ways you can learn more about your target MBA programs:

  • Spend a day touring your target program’s campus , attending a class, speaking with professors, and conversing over lunch with students.
  • If visiting in-person is not possible, you can learn a lot through attending webinars and online information sessions.
  • Reach out to colleagues and/or local alumni. Spend some time on LinkedIn to see if you have colleagues who have attended your target programs or if there are any alumni clubs in your area. Schedule a chat to learn more about classes, clubs, career opportunities, and school culture.
  • Follow your target MBA programs on social media. Schools regularly post on all major channels and can really share a lot of great and helpful information.
  • Download mbaMission’s Insider’s Guides. This is not a shameless plug – our suite of guides to top MBA programs is extensively researched and informed by direct input from students, alumni and school representatives. We update them yearly and they are free to download.

Every top MBA program offers a variety of in-person and online opportunities to connect and learn more. Check out this blog post for a list of events and programs.

Doing this research will help you write a personal statement that is authentic and specific. Being vague and generic here is NOT the way to go. Consider the following example:

“During my experience at Cornell, I was struck by the easygoing classroom discussion, the warmth of the professors and the time spent by the first-year student who not only toured the facilities with me, but also took me for coffee and asked several of his colleagues to join us.”

While these statements may in fact be true, the text contains no Cornell-specific language. If Yale, Michigan or the name of any other school were substituted for Cornell here, the statement would otherwise not change at all. This statement could be applicable to any other school—and this is not good. In contrast, the following statement could refer only to Darden:

“While on Grounds, I was impressed by Professor Robert Carraway’s easygoing and humorous style, as he facilitated a fast-paced discussion of the ‘George’s T-Shirts’ case. Although I admittedly felt dizzied by the class’s pace, I was comforted when I encountered several students reviewing the finer points of the case later at First Coffee. I was impressed when my first-year guide stopped mid-tour to check in with her learning teammate and reinforce the case’s central point. It was then I recognized that this was the right environment for me.”

If you were to substitute the Darden name and even the professor’s name with those of another school and professor, the paragraph would no longer work. The Darden-specific information regarding the day’s case, First Coffee and learning teams ensures that these sentences have a sincere and personal feel—showing that the candidate truly understands what the school is about, and necessary for a compelling personal statement that will catch the attention of the admissions committee. 

MBA Personal Statement Example and Analysis

Now it is time to put all these tips into practice. Here I will dissect an actual successful personal statement essay from a past applicant so you can learn some of the “dos” and “don’ts” in revealing your fit with your target MBA program. One quick note—this sample essay is not meant to be used as a template. I suggest that you use it as a resource, but do not copy it! Everyone has their own stories and nuances, and you need to focus on sharing yours in your own personal voice and style.

The essay I analyze here is in answer to the following question from Wharton’s 2022–2023 application, but the advice I give is applicable to any school’s required personal or goal statement:

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)

This essay has our three key personal statement elements: past, present, and future. Let us unveil and examine each one.

The writer starts, logically, with the past, which is discussed in the first part of the paragraph.

Transitioning from banking to private equity, I initially found the faster pace and expanded scope startling, but ultimately, it was invigorating. Shifting from agent to principal, I joined the VP Product at a Japanese industrial firm in repricing one hundred, long-ignored products, and shepherded the acquisition of the rotational-molding division from a Korean chaebol. While I had neither pricing nor manufacturing experience, all that mattered was that I could learn, adapt, and contribute. At KJIP, I came to appreciate the “messiness” of investing and the opportunities to create value via ingenuity and collaboration.

No matter what the word limit is for the essay you are writing, you must give the admissions committee some indication of where you have been to provide context for where you want to go. The author here could not have just written, “I plan to accelerate my development at Wharton before returning to investing….” He needed to give the admissions reader a sense of his experiences and background before introducing his goals. While he will not be the only private equity (PE) associate to apply to Wharton, he offers a window into how his time in PE was his own—he invested in Asia, gained experience working with portfolio firms on a repricing project, completed an industrial acquisition, and so on. And beyond his discussion of his actual work, he gives an honest view into what he enjoys about the experience—the “messiness,” as he calls it. He discusses the challenge of adjusting and the rewards of creating opportunity. He demonstrates that he is authentic and capable and does so in just 90 or so words. He has not shared anything earth-shattering, but he has created an identity for himself and done enough to grab the reader’s attention and distinguish himself ever so slightly from other, similar candidates. He has also set the stage for the next section of his essay.

In the next roughly 90 words, the writer tells us that he plans to return to investing back home in America, sticking with industrials. He even names firms.

Now, I plan to accelerate my development at Wharton before returning to investing to drive change on a greater scale. While I had a tremendous experience in Asia, I am eager to return home and would seek to join a middle-market, PE firm, like BZPD or PowerStrat, which focus on industrial innovation to the benefit of all stakeholders. Longer term, as I develop my leadership skills and breadth of industrial experience, I aspire to become a partner at a PE firm or to a CEO position with a larger industrial firm, where I can truly lead change. 

The author does not need to “save the whales” or shift into tech to excite the admissions committee. He just needs to show that he has clear goals and that those aspirations make sense for him—and that ultimately, his MBA will be the bridge to get him there.

He can go from PE pre-MBA to PE post-MBA, no problem, or he could suggest that he wants to transition into industry right away. He could probably find ways to shift into other careers as well. What is important is the logic behind the career goals, not the target industry. And in this case, this applicant’s path makes sense. In addition, his long-term goals naturally extend from his short-term goals. His logic continues, and his objectives, while unrevolutionary, are, importantly, significant, ambitious, and prestigious. In short, the admissions committee can see a credible path for him to be a successful alumnus. Of course, all this logic and “pathing” is critical. For the applicant to say that he wants to go from industrial PE into sports management or into leadership of a consumer marketing business would sound strange with the information we have, so again, the focus is on being logical, credible, and ambitious.

If I were to critique this portion of the essay, I would say that he might give another sentence of depth here. His goals are possibly a little thin. Maybe he could elaborate on the work he would seek at his post-MBA firm or offer an intermediary goal that would lend more credibility to his long-term aspiration of landing that C-suite position. Of course, if he did so, he would need to find space to do so elsewhere in his essay, because Wharton has a hard limit of 500 words. You literally cannot enter even one word more into the space allotted for this essay on the school’s application. Not a word! At some other programs, you do not need to worry so much about being a few words over, though we always recommend that applicants not exceed an MBA program’s stated word count by more than 5%, tops.

The Present

Finally, the bulk of his essay is on Wharton—approximately 60% of it. The admissions committee wants to know that you have done your homework on their school because they have thousands of applicants and do not need to accept anyone who lacks a complete understanding of what their program has to offer. To be a successful applicant, you really need to prove that you have done your homework. 

Assessing areas for development, I recognize that I need to grow beyond the financial plain and will pursue Wharton’s Strategic Management major, both to expand my ability to advance my future firm’s strategic rationale and to quickly grasp the challenges faced by management at portfolio firms. After taking core courses like “Operations, Information, and Decisions” and “Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership” to deepen my managerial point of view, I would specialize via electives like “Managing Organizational Change,” “Corporate Diplomacy,” and “Advanced Global Strategy.” Of course, beyond Wharton’s course options, I find the opportunities to unify theory and practice to be incredibly compelling. In particular, I would pursue the Advanced Management Practicum, so that I could collaborate with classmates by providing actionable solutions for a specific management problem, while gaining the enduring benefit of a consultant’s perspective. And a Global Modular Course, like “Supply Chain Management in Mexico,” will introduce me to our most vexing global business issue, while expanding my network within industry and with classmates. 

I feel fortunate to have already witnessed the role my diverse and dynamic Wharton classmates will play in my education; I recently visited my cousin, Tarek Masoud (W ’22) and observed his “Managerial Decision Making” class, also attending that week’s Pub. Both class and Pub revealed a community that comes together to share ideas— and even laughs together amid the intensity of the experience. Indeed, this reflective aspect is deeply appealing; by pursuing a Leadership Venture, I would work with peers to better understand myself and hone my leadership style. Meantime, through my Learning Team experience, I will be constantly adapting as I seek to contribute to a unit that Tarek described as his “lifeline.” I would come to Wharton ready to listen, absorb, and share, knowing that by bringing the entirety of my energy, I will confidently embark on the next phase of my career.

Has our applicant proven that he has done his research on the school? Unequivocally, yes! He has visited the program, sat in on a class, selected an appropriate major, reasoned through the courses he wants to take, noted experiential opportunities, and familiarized himself with the school’s Learning Team model. And he does not just present a list—he is able to show how these resources will help shape his experience.

I want to highlight a few specific details. The writer does not just say that he visited his cousin at Wharton and had a great time; he visited his cousin with a sense of purpose and absorbed the experience both academically and socially. He has takeaways about the Learning Team experience. If I were to critique this section, I would focus on the Leadership Venture element. Which one would he want to pursue? Why? Would any Leadership Venture work to help him gain what he needs? Small details like this add to the sincerity of the essay, thereby making it more convincing.

The brevity of this essay—at a mere 500 words—could always leave us second-guessing the writer. In this case, though, the applicant delivers a fairly straightforward story, identifies some nuances within his experience, offers clear and connected goals, and is able to identify with Wharton as his target. He does a very solid job and generally makes the most of his space. Again, do not just try to copy this sample essay. Use the tips in this post to make your essay truly your own. I hope this has helped you understand the depth that is necessary in your writing and the logical connections you need to make. This should launch you on your journey.

If you have questions about your application essays or wonder which schools you would be competitive at, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with an mbaMission consultant.

Tags: business school essay MBA application essays personal statement

mba essays examples

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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
  • Columbia Business School 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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  • Rotman School of Management
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  • University of California Los Angeles (Anderson)
  • University of Cambridge (Judge)
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  • University of London (London Business School)
  • University of Michigan (Ross)
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MBA Admission Essay Samples

Featured Expert: Anand Singh, MBA

MBA Admission Essay Samples

Are you looking for some MBA admission essay samples? Look no further. In this blog, we share four outstanding MBA admission essay samples that will definitely inspire you to write your own. 

Most business schools will give you specific essay prompts that you will need to answer with your essay, but ultimately, you will either be writing an  MBA personal statement , an  MBA statement of purpose , or an  MBA diversity essay . These are the three most common types of admission essays, and they can all be challenging to write. Reviewing examples, giving yourself enough time to write and edit, and working with an expert such as an  MBA essay consultant  can really improve the quality of your admissions essay. To help you get started, we’ve put together a few examples with prompts from some of the top business schools.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 8 min read

Mba admission essays: sample #1.

Prompt from Wharton Business School : Considering your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words).

Fifteen years ago, after graduating from high school, I left Tanzania and moved to the United States because I wanted to study multimedia marketing, and my research told me there was no better place to learn. I moved halfway across the world at the age of seventeen to follow my dreams of becoming an advertising expert and opening my own firm one day.

It took me some time to find my footing in the US. I often felt isolated and confused. Sometimes, it was little things. For example, I remember the first time I went into a grocery store and found that the food was measured in pounds. I grew up using the metric system, so instead of spending twenty minutes in the store as planned, I spent almost an hour because I had to calculate the weight of things.

Other times, it was bigger things that made me feel isolated. Like the second time I went to that same grocery store and asked a young woman who worked there where I could find scallions, she responded with a blank stare. After I explained what they were, she informed me that they are called spring onions and that if I was going to live in America, I should learn to speak English, or I could go back to where I came from.

I always made it a point to try and learn as much as possible about the places I visited to ensure that I didn't make anyone feel uncomfortable or end up feeling uncomfortable myself. I eventually found the International Student Association at the University of X, where other international students embraced me and introduced me to American students with whom I am still friends to this day. One of whom I fell in love with and married.

My experiences as an international student helped me understand the importance of being welcomed and having access to information. I know that 30% of Wharton business school's student body comprises international students and that every year, it welcomes more. I would like to join the efforts of the students who help make their transition to life in America easier.

Furthermore, I believe that my experiences have taught me to be more open-minded. I look forward to sharing my point of view with students from all over the world and having the chance to learn from them too.  (396 words)

Want to see more Wharton MBA essay examples ?

Prompt from Harvard Business School : Briefly tell us more about your career aspirations. (300 words)

My long-term career goal is to advise small businesses in my community and help them grow. I have been working as an associate business advisor with a local bank for almost a decade, and one of the many things that I have learned from this position is that several business owners do not have access to information that can go a long way toward improving, and sometimes even saving, their businesses. 

Having grown up in a relatively underserved community, I understand the importance of supporting local businesses and ensuring that we reinvest in our own communities. However, as a consumer, I also understand how difficult it can be to do this when there are cheaper and faster ways to access the same products or services that a local business offers. 

Over the years, I have built and maintained relationships with over 100 business owners in various industries and helping them manage their finances has taught me about business financial planning. Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to build practical experience through an internship with a local consulting agency.

I believe that these experiences have given me a solid foundation, but to achieve my goal of becoming a business consultant and helping small business owners, I need to learn more about business administration and management. 

I chose to apply to the Harvard Business School MBA program because it has a rigorous curriculum emphasizing real-world experience through the FIELD immersion program and partnerships with other institutions. This is the perfect program for a person like me who learns by doing. 

I am ready and eager to take this next step in my career so that I can help those around me get the most out of their businesses. I believe that this is the perfect program to help me improve on the skills required to achieve my goal.

Want to learn how to write a Harvard MBA personal statement ?

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

As one of six operations managers in a contact center, I spend most of my days making decisions that are meant to create lasting value. I lead a team of thirty employees, and my job is to maximize efficiency by ensuring that we have enough employees to provide the service requested by our clients and that the employees have everything they need to do their jobs well.

I was promoted to this role a year ago, and one of the issues I wanted to tackle was our high turnover rate. I know that contact centers have notoriously high turnover rates, but instead of the expected 30 - 40%, we were averaging a rate of 60%. This was not only costing the company a lot of money, but it was reducing the quality of the service that we could provide for our clients.

I spent months pouring over the numbers, trying to understand why we were losing so many employees and what we could do to change it. We pay our agents above market average, give employees good health benefits and vacation time, and hold several contests and competitions to keep them motivated.

After a few months of analyzing the data and finding nothing, I decided to go straight to the source. I changed the company's exit strategy procedure. Instead of a conversation between exiting contact center agents and their former supervisors, they would simply fill out an anonymous survey online that only a few people had access to.

The comments on these surveys helped me understand that the issue actually came from our hiring practices. Most of the comments showed me that many of our new recruits were not understanding the role they were signing up for. So, they would begin working, find something completely different from what they expected and decide to leave.

This information allowed me to take the lead and make some changes that benefited the whole company. I worked with an HR consultant to create better job descriptions that all the different managers now use when hiring contact center agents. Our turnover rate is now 22%, which is lower than the national average for contact centers. 

I pride myself on my ability to look at problems objectively and approach them from different angles until I find a solution. In this case, I was able to do the same thing, and in the process, I learned the importance of asking questions and looking beyond the numbers.

I am conscious of the fact that I still have a lot to learn, and I am eager to do so because I know that the knowledge I gain from this program will help me do right by my team. (449 words)

Check out more Kellogg MBA essay examples !

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

When I first started writing this essay, I began by writing a list of all my favorite books. I had filled about two pages with titles when I realized that I don't have one favorite; I have several. I initially told myself that I should talk about a business book, or something related to finances, but as much as I enjoy such books and as much as I learn from them, they are honestly not my favorites. 

After careful consideration and a few pro-con lists, I decided to write about one of the books that I have read and enjoyed multiple times: The girl with the louding voice, by the Nigerian author Abi Dare. This book follows a young girl from a poor and remote community as she tries to raise enough funds to get an education and use what she calls her 'louding voice.' Her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. 

This particular book resonates with me so much because it reminds me of the importance of literacy and that millions of young girls worldwide do not have access to education. A cause that I am very passionate about.

I have and continue to donate my time and money towards changing things for the better. That is why I started an initiative in our publishing house to distribute books in underserved areas and underfunded schools. I hope that the knowledge and know-how that I will gain from your MBA program will allow me to do even more to help.  (250 words)

Want to see more MBA admission essays from the best MBA programs in the US ?

  • More Columbia MBA essay examples
  • Chicago Booth MBA essay examples
  • Haas essay examples
  • Stanford MBA personal statement examples
  • Kelley MBA essay examples
  • Yale MBA essay examples
  • Cornell MBA essay examples

Have you started preparing for your MBA interviews? This video is for you:

As you can tell from the different essays you just read, business schools can ask MBA applicants about various topics. Sometimes, the same school might even give you several different prompts and ask you to choose a few from the list.  Harvard MBA personal statement  prompts are a great example of this. It is therefore important to review as many MBA admission essay samples as possible to get inspiration and familiarize yourself with the proper structure of an admission essay.

We would be remiss if we did not remind you that while looking at MBA admission samples for inspiration is great, you should not use these essays or parts of these essays as your own. Not only is this unethical, but  universities can detect plagiarism , and it can have severe consequences.

After reviewing examples, you should start by brainstorming for your own essay. Think about the experiences and motivations that have led you to apply for an MBA program and your reasons for choosing each particular MBA program that you are applying to. You can then use this information, along with examples and anecdotes from your academic and professional background to create an MBA admission essay that will stand out.

Write down as much information as possible when you are brainstorming for your essay, this information can be very helpful when you start to prepare for MBA interviews . ","label":"Bonus tip","title":"Bonus tip"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

We recommend that you give yourself at least six to eight weeks to go through this process. If you're unsure how to craft your own essay, invest in MBA admissions consulting . The consultants can guide you through the brainstorming, writing, and editing process to help you ensure that you are submitting an essay that is not only compelling but original. Thus, improving your overall chances of getting into your chosen MBA program. 

Your admission essays are very important. They give you an opportunity to present your strengths and explain your weaknesses to the admission committee. They also give you a chance to tell them exactly what you have to offer and why you deserve a spot in their class. A well-written essay can differentiate you from other candidates and significantly improve your chances of getting into your program.

MBAs are highly sought after, so the competition to get into the programs can be fierce, especially for the top institutions such as  Ivy League schools . You will need a stellar application if you want to get in.

That will depend on the school you are applying to and the specific type of admission essay that has been requested. Unless otherwise specified by the school, your essay should be between 400 and 650 words.

Not all MBA programs ask for one, but the majority of them do. Many schools require more than one admission essay, so you should always verify the school's requirements you're interested in.

A personal statement is one of the many different types of admission essays. You may be required to write a personal statement and a different type of essay, such as a letter of intent. Or your chosen school may only require one essay. Either way, you should verify the school's admissions page for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

They don't necessarily change every year, but they are subject to change depending on the school and the admission committee. You should always check the school's website before you start writing your essays to be prepared.

If you want your MBA admission essay to stand out, you need to make sure that you are showing instead of telling. Use specific examples and short anecdotes to back up any claims that you make about yourself. You should also make sure that you are following any instructions or guidelines provided by the school. If you truly want to beat the competition and craft an outstand essay, you may want to work with an MBA essay consultant.

An MBA essay consultant is an admission expert that helps students through the MBA admissions process, specifically with admission essays. They guide students as they try to craft their personal statements or other MBA admission essays. These consultants also help students improve their research and writing skills.

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How to Write a Killer MBA Essay

Introduction.

Writing a great MBA essay is a crucial component of applying to business school . According to Lisa Koengeter , the Director of Admissions at Booth School of Business , your essay provides them with “a better understanding of you, your self-assessment and your aspirations.” 

This article will outline what MBA admissions committees look for in your essays, show you how to write a killer MBA essay, and tell you what mistakes to avoid.

Types of MBA Essays

There are a few different types of MBA essay questions you will answer as part of your MBA application. The type of essay can be determined through the keywords used in the essay question. Each type of essay will have its own length requirements, depending on the business school.

This type of essay asks you to detail your personal and professional goals and how attending business school will help you achieve them. An essay question that asks about your aspirations or what you hope to gain from an MBA program is classified as a goal essay.

For example, Wharton is one of many schools that ask for a goal essay from applicants using the question: “What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA?” Columbia , NYU Stern , Darden , Dartmouth Tuck , and McCombs are some of the many other schools that ask about your goals.

Self-Reflection

A self-reflection essay is an opportunity for you to showcase the values and characteristics that make up your personal identity. It also requires you to discuss how you handled a failure at some point in your life or how you would approach an ethical dilemma.

Yale School of Management is one business school that uses self-reflection questions in its MBA essays . They want to know what the biggest commitment you have ever made is, including why you chose it and how you went about making it. 

Answering this question will require you to do some deep reflection in order to answer it thoroughly. 

Contribution

The objective of this type of essay is to show an admissions committee how you will add value and contribute to their MBA program. 

Booth School of Business poses this question: “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 career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are.” 

Booth clearly wants you to elaborate on who you are, what you value, and how you live those values in your everyday life.

Some business schools want to know about the impact you will have on their program and pose a question that asks you to describe a time when you demonstrated leadership. This will involve discussing why you took on the leadership role in your chosen situation and your leadership impact.

Darden School of Business poses essay questions designed to gauge your leadership capabilities and the impact you’ll have on the program. As Dean of Admissions Dawna Clarke states, they are interested in “cultivating high impact leaders.” 

It’s no surprise that one of their essay questions from a recent application cycle was, “Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact.”

Instead of writing a traditional essay, some business schools ask you to submit a video essay. The types of questions asked for a video essay can range from a short introduction to longer, multi-component questions.

Kellogg is one business school that uses video essays . They will ask you three questions. First up is an introduction, and the second is about your career goals and how Kellogg will help get you there. 

The third question varies annually and is generally more randomized, so you and all the other applicants won’t necessarily respond to the same question. 

How to Write a Great Business School Essay

Successfully writing business school essays is tricky. Many factors go into constructing a successful one. However, the top tips we’ve provided below outline how to write an MBA application essay that stands out from the crowd. 

Pay Attention to Your Essay Structure

Blair Mannix , the Admissions Director at Wharton, noticed successful essays all had the same structure: the setup, the pivot point, and the future. 

The setup is the opening of your essay, where you tell the admissions committee about who you are, what you do, and what you have learned so far. 

The pivot point is where you shift from discussing what you already know and do to talking about what you would like to learn and how that will help you succeed. Mannix also describes this as a lightbulb moment, where something clicks, and you realize that if you had more education in one or two areas, you would be better at your job. 

The final section of your essay is your opportunity to describe how gaining knowledge and skills in the area(s) you identified in the pivot point will help your career and why that specific MBA program will make this possible.

For essays that ask you to describe how you will contribute to the institution’s MBA community, Mannix states successful essays are personal, set up as a story, and show how your experiences resonate with the community.

Consider the Tone You Use While Writing Your Essay

It’s important to be genuine in your essay. Admissions committees want to know about you as a person and know if you’re being insincere or simply writing what you think they want to hear. 

As Laurel Grodman from Yale School of Management states, your essay is an “opportunity to speak in your own voice about something meaningful and distinctive in your life.” Don’t waste this opportunity by writing about something you think will make you look better. 

Write something that actually matters to you.

Authenticity is another key element to incorporate in your essay. Clarke recommends integrating aspects of your personality into your essay. For example, she suggests showcasing your creativity, humor, or any other attributes you possess. This allows admission committees to get to know you even better.

The Best MBA Essays Are School-Specific 

At first, this seems like an obvious one; of course, writing a business school essay means writing about the business school itself. However, this is a great opportunity to show off your research and explain why you specifically want to attend this institution. 

Have you looked into the school’s curriculum? Have you found which extracurricular opportunities you want to pursue if you are admitted? Are there any research centers that you want to become involved in? 

Show how this school is the ideal stepping stone to help you achieve your future ambitions. The University of Cambridge Judge Business School provides two MBA application essay examples that highlight the importance of this: 

Example 1 - “The programme will equip me with an entrepreneurial toolkit, allowing me to efficiently evaluate and capitalise on future business opportunities, further bolstering my credibility with future stakeholders.”

Example 2 - “Upon completion of the MBA programme at Cambridge Judge Business School I want to be a decisive and successful business professional.”

The first example is far more compelling; it explains what the student will gain from the program and how they will use it to achieve future success. 

Pick an Event or Situation That Matters to You

When you select your topic to write about in your MBA essay, you need to make sure it is something that had a significant impact on your life and resonates with you personally. This will help ensure your authenticity shows through.

Kellogg Director of Admissions Jennifer Hayes , says that “the best essays [she has] read have heart, are not over-edited, and let the applicant’s personality emerge.” This is best done when you do not force yourself to write something you think admissions directors want to read, but rather tell an organic story that carries significant personal meaning.

The Importance of Storytelling in MBA Essays

Business school admissions officers want to see how you approach traits like leadership and commitment in your MBA application essay. Yet, if you describe an experience and don’t reflect upon it, you will not highlight your mindset, dedication, and motivation. 

The best writers outline the traits that business schools want to see by telling personal stories and anecdotes. But how can you do that? It’s simple — show how your experiences impacted you. Don’t just tell us about it. 

Indeed, to use the idea of commitment as an example, Yale’s admissions committee “cares less about the commitment you choose and more about the behaviors surrounding the commitment.” They want to “come away learning something new about you as a person that helps us understand your values and motivations.”

Illustrating how your experiences affect your values and motivations is difficult; this process requires a lot of introspection and self-reflection. The trick is to use plenty of real-life examples and explain how they embody your values. 

One way to successfully do this is to use the STAR technique . The STAR technique is split into four distinct steps: 

  • Situation - Describe the situation and when it took place.
  • Task - Explain the task and what was the goal.
  • Action - Provide details about the action you took to attain this.
  • Result - Conclude with the result of your action.

Using the four steps outlined above, you can create concise, compelling answers to your essay prompts. Let’s use one of the Berkeley Haas essay prompts as an example for an MBA essay outline:

What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words maximum) . 

We can split this prompt into two sections: 

  • Describe an activity, hobby, or anything that makes you “feel alive” when you do it. 
  • Explain why you find so much enjoyment in this one thing. 

Storytelling is key here, and the STAR technique can help you break down exactly what you want to say. Remember, it is important to reflect upon your experiences and, in this case, show why you enjoy something. 

If you manage to do this in your essays and show how you achieved results along the way, you will submit a strong MBA application essay. 

Plagiarizing Your MBA Essay 

Plagiarism is a big deal. 

Even if a student doesn’t intend to plagiarize someone’s work, colleges can and will detect it. If colleges detect plagiarism, they will likely reject the application outright; UCLA’s Anderson School of Management rejected 52 MBA hopefuls for application plagiarism. 

Applicants can easily and accidentally plagiarize someone else’s work by following MBA essay examples too closely. Essay examples are useful, as they can inspire you and give you an idea of how you can reflect upon your experiences. However, someone has written that example about their own experience in their own words, and you can’t copy it. 

If you are worried about plagiarism, the simple fix is to be original. After all, admissions committees want to hear about your experiences, motivations, and opinions. 

Authenticity is also an extremely important part of writing well; you will come across as more genuine writing about your genuine thoughts and experiences. If you want to check your work, you can use reliable and low-cost plagiarism checker tools like PrePostSEO and Copyscape .  

MBA Essay Examples

US News wrote an article on what makes for a successful MBA essay. They provided the following MBA entrance essay sample essays written by applicants recently admitted into highly reputable business schools.

This sample was written for Fox School of Business at Temple University .

sample essay

This essay was well-received by the admissions committee because it was written clearly and concisely, free of grammatical errors, and told a story. The candidate showed their personality and explained why a Fox MBA would help them achieve their career goals. 

This particular candidate was honest in their essay about their weaknesses and professional growth, which is generally well-received by admissions committees. The candidate detailed the initiative they had taken in learning about the MBA program at Fox and why they decided to apply.

This next successful essay sample was written for the Yale School of Management.

sample essay

Similar to the previous example, this essay told a compelling story through a clear narrative. This particular essay began with an anecdote that demonstrated the candidate’s work ethic, initiative, leadership, and resourcefulness.

This show-don’t-tell essay displayed what was important to the applicant and offered the admission committee insight into their personality and values. It also provided as much detail as was possible, given the 500-word limit.

Don’t Rely Too Much on MBA Essay Examples 

While MBA essay examples are valuable tools to see what got applicants into business school, they all have one problem: They are not yours. Other peoples’ essay examples don’t focus on your achievements, values, motivations, or experiences. 

In their essays, originality and authenticity are two critical themes that business schools look for because your life is unique. Remember, MBA essay writing is all about getting to know you , and your essays should truly reflect who you are as a person. 

MBA essay examples are useful. They can provide you inspiration, an idea of what can work, and outline how to discuss your own experiences. However, you need to draw a line in the sand and write your own essay at some point. 

People are admitted to particular schools for a wide variety of reasons. While their essays are one of those reasons, what works for one person might not work for you. Try not to overthink it — write about your experiences, background, and, most importantly, opinion. 

Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your MBA Essay

In addition to following the steps for writing a great MBA essay outlined above, there are also some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid while writing your essay. These mistakes are listed below, along with solutions to fix them.

Submitting an Overly Complex Essay

Admissions committees don’t want to know how many buzzwords and how much industry-related jargon you know. They’re looking to find out about you as a person, not solely as a business person. 

Committees may become frustrated if they have to decipher what you’ve written in your overly complicated essay, especially since your application isn’t the only one that needs reviewing.

The fix : Use your own words and write as if you were talking professionally to a coworker. That way, your essay will sound more straightforward and personal and allow you to make a better connection with your reader.

Not Reading the Essay Question Closely or Misunderstanding the Question

You need to know how to answer MBA essay questions. Misreading or misunderstanding the question will lead you to write an essay that completely misses what the admissions committee wants to learn about you. 

This can lead to your application being discarded.

The fix : Find the keyword(s) in the question first. This will provide you with what the admission committee hopes to learn about you in the essay. 

In the Types of MBA Essays section above, identifying terms such as “contribute,” “gain,” and “lead” shows what the admissions committee is looking for you to answer. It is also a good idea to seek clarification if you find the question confusing. 

Restating Your Resume or Letters of Recommendation

Admission committees don’t want your essay to be a restatement of what’s already outlined in your business school resume and letters of recommendation . Your MBA essay should be unique and should tell a story that can’t be found elsewhere in your application.

The fix : Take some time to think about what you want to write about that answers the essay question and isn’t detailed anywhere else in your application. But suppose the moment or experience you want to write about is already included. 

In that case, you could instead focus on a particular project and describe some of the challenges you encountered, how you overcame them, the project’s outcome, and what you learned from the experience. 

Starting Your MBA Essay Close to the Deadline 

Starting too close to the deadline means you won’t have enough time to put together a clear, concise, and expertly written narrative. If you’re rushed, you’re more likely to make simple mistakes.

The fix : Start planning your essay(s) as soon as the essay questions are made available. Take time to create an outline for each essay so you have a solid plan for when you start to write your draft. 

By starting well ahead of the application deadline, you’ll give yourself plenty of time to write and revise without being crunched for time and stressed.

Giving Half-Baked Reasons for Attending Business School  

Business school admissions committees use your essays to gauge your interest in their program and institution. So, if you are vague about your career plans and why you should get an MBA at a specific school, take the time to outline them. 

Admissions officers want to see applicants who demonstrate clear and well-defined goals. So, do your college research and explain why you want to attend their program. 

1. How Long Should My MBA Application Essay Be?

The length of your MBA essay will depend on the specific school; some schools allow up to 500 words, while others want a very short and to-the-point response of 150 words. 

The length set out by the MBA program you’re applying to is an important consideration, and it is not a good idea to go over the word limit. Admissions committees want to see that you can follow instructions and are capable of writing succinctly. It will not reflect well on you to go over the allowed word count.

2. Is the MBA Essay Less Important Than My GPA and GMAT Score?

No, your MBA essay is at least equally as important as your GPA and GMAT score . While your GPA and GMAT scores are good indicators of your academic abilities, the MBA essay is the admission committee’s first opportunity to get to know you personally. 

This is also the first impression you will make on the committee, so it’s imperative that you write a strong and compelling essay. Most business schools use a holistic approach to assessing applications, and your response to the essay question can determine whether you are a good fit for their program.

3. Is There an MBA Essay Guide for Reapplicants?

Many schools will require or suggest that reapplicants submit an additional essay. 

This will vary by school, and it is important to check with each school’s website for the exact details of what’s expected of reapplicants. If it’s optional, it is a good idea to submit one because it allows you to explain how you’ve grown personally and professionally since your previous application. 

4. Can I Use the Same Business School Essay if I’m Reapplying?

It’s unlikely you’ll be successful using the same essay since your response could have been the reason you were rejected the first time around. 

It’s best to consult with an MBA admissions expert or mentor to find out where you went wrong and what you can do to make your reapplication essay strong and stand out in the best way possible.

5. How Do I Edit My MBA Essay Draft to Make It Better?

First of all, make sure there are no errors with your spelling, grammar, and syntax. Business schools want students with superb communication skills, and having basic errors in your MBA essay does not demonstrate that you have strong communication skills. 

Then, you should go through the common mistakes outlined above and make sure those are not present in your essay; if they are, fix them. Seeking a second opinion from a friend, mentor, colleague, or MBA essay editing expert will also help locate errors or improvement areas.

6. How Can I Ensure My Business School Essay Stands Out?

Whether you are faced with the Wharton MBA essays , Harvard Business School essay , or Booth MBA essays , to name a few, there are a few things you can do to make your essay stand out. 

The event or experience you choose to write about should be something you are able to write about in a compelling narrative. It should also be something you can write about with passion, which will allow the admission committee to see your genuine and authentic voice. 

Your strengths should be woven in with the story you’re telling. These things will make your essay stand out to the admission committee and help them remember you.

Unlock Your Future with the Perfect Business School Essay

Knowing how to write a great MBA essay can be a challenging component of the business school application process. 

But, if you know where to start, make an outline for each essay, and get expert assistance, the process becomes significantly more manageable. Following these steps will help you write a killer MBA essay.

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Essays help us learn about who you are rather than solely what you have done.

Other parts of the application give insight into your academic and professional accomplishments; the essays reveal the person behind those achievements.

Essay Questions

We request that you write two personal essays.

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

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

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

Essay B: Why Stanford?

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

Both essays combined may not exceed 1,050 words. We recommend up to 650 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. We often read effective essays that are written in fewer words.

Editing Your Essays

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

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

Feedback vs. Coaching

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

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

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

Additional Information

If there is any information that is critical for us to know and is not captured elsewhere, include it in the “Additional Information” section of the application. Pertinent examples include:

  • Extenuating circumstances affecting your candidacy, including academic, work, or test-taking experiences
  • Academic experience (e.g., independent research) not noted elsewhere

This section should not be used as an additional essay.

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mba essays examples

Sample Essays from Admitted HBS Students

Sample essays from admitted HBS students

  • Sample HBS Essay [2020]: Vulnerable But Invincible
  • Sample HBS Essay [2016]: The Mechanical Engineer
  • Sample HBS Essay [2015]: The Author

I read the new 2020 Harbus MBA Essay Guide wondering what I was going to gain from it. I’ve been reading HBS MBA application essays for 26 years. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. I also had read the previous Harbus MBA Essay Guide , and the question Harvard is asking hasn’t changed since that one was published. However, while I started The Essay Guide a skeptic, I quickly saw its value, and can whole-heartedly recommend it to HBS applicants. 

Even after having read hundreds of HBS essays, I still found it worthwhile to read The Essay Guide . For applicants who have preconceived notions of what an admissible essay should be, The Essay Guide will open your eyes to 22 successful and different responses. For applicants who are wondering how on earth they should approach their essay, the guide will give them 22 different answers. 

For me it reinforced several valuable lessons:

  • There really is no template for a successful HBS essay. The diversity of essays that are acceptable — no pun intended, well maybe a little intended — to Harvard Business School is striking.  
  • The commitment of most of the authors to telling their story is also noteworthy. Several said they asked friends to confirm that the essay really mirrors them. Others wrote that they were determined that the essay present an authentic portrait of them.
  • Most of the students wrote the essay over the course of months. Give yourself time to draft a persuasive, introspective, and authentic essay. 

Harvard’s question is a fantastic one. It is a probing one. And it requires you to probe yourself so that you can provide a profound reflection of you as you tell the HBS admissions committee what you really want them to know.

A successful Harvard Business School application essay [2020]

This sample essay is from The Harbus MBA Essay Guide and is reprinted with permission from Harbus .  

Essay: Vulnerable But Invincible 

Home country: USA

Previous industry: Consulting

Analysis: The author takes a rather bold approach here. She uses the essay to point to the times when she showed vulnerability in the workplace. This essay presents a strong example of how an essay can be used to complement different aspects of your personality – while resume and application can be used to highlight accomplishments, the essay has been intelligently used to show author’s capacity to be strong enough to talk about situations when she broke down in a professional capacity, but took lessons from each of these situations and employed them to her strength.

I have cried exactly four times at work.

The first time was early in my career. It was 2AM and I was lying in bed struggling with an Excel model. An overachiever my whole life, I was wholly unused to the feelings of inadequacy and incompetence bubbling up inside me. After clicking through dozens of Excel forums with still no right answer, I gave up and cried myself to sleep, vowing to never let myself feel so incapable again.

The second time was a year and a half later. I was unsatisfied with my project and role, and questioning my decision to be a consultant. That uncertainty must have been apparent to everyone, because my manager pulled me aside and bluntly told me that my attitude was affecting the entire team. I cried in front of him, devastated that I had let my doubts bleed into my work.

The third time was just a year ago. I was overseeing a process redesign and struggling to balance the many changes needed. The Partner called me into his office to say, “I’m worried our process is not as sound as it needs to be. I need to know that you care about this as much as I do.” I nodded, say that I do, then ran to the bathroom to cry, overwhelmed by how much change I knew was coming.

Each of the first three times was driven by frustration and anger. I had tamped down my emotions to the point where they overwhelmed me. Particularly as a young woman in business, I never wanted to be viewed as a stereotype or incapable. I was ashamed of my tears and terrified at how others would perceive me.

However, each of those experiences proved to be a turning point. My tears motivated me to ask for help when I needed it, pushed me to restructure my mindset and approach, and gave me a moment to breathe, rebalance, and reprioritize. In each case, my work was better for it. I have also used each experience as a learning moment. Each time I asked myself what decisions led me to the point of tears, and what I could have done differently. I could have raised my hand earlier for help, initiated a conversation with my manager about my uncertainty and dissatisfaction, or involved the Partner more actively in the planning and prioritization. While I can’t change the past, I can learn from it, and am more considerate of such outcomes when I make these decisions today.

Emotions are an inevitable part of the human experience, and as such, an inevitable part of the office. Rather than keeping them at bay, I have begun embracing my emotions to be a better manager and leader, and build more authentic connections. As a manager, I understand my team as people, not just colleagues. I have regular conversations with each of my team members to understand their individual goals and motivations, so I can take those into consideration when building the team structure and delegating responsibilities. As a leader, I invest in traditions and events that foster camaraderie and high morale. I am the proud founder of [NAME OF OFFICE PROGRAM] in the office, a beloved tradition that is now an integral part of the office and that I hope will continue even after I leave.

The fourth time I cried was at the rollout of a process redesign I oversaw. This was our first time demo-ing the new process end-to-end for the rest of the team. As the demo progressed, I felt the team’s energy turn from nervous anticipation to dawning excitement, and finally to sheer awe and amazement. As the demo ended, one of my teammates turned to me, and asked in a hushed voice, “Are you crying?” And I was. This time, I cried not with frustration or anger. This time, I cried with joy for our success and with pride for my team. Embracing my emotions allowed me to show that tears are not shameful and don’t need to be hidden in the workplace. I am no longer ashamed of my tears, and I am proud to demonstrate that a strong leader can be pragmatic and emotional all at once.

Word count: 705

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Author’s comment: “I started early on my essay (~ 3 months before the submission deadline) because it was important to me to iterate and be thoughtful. I started by laying out potential themes and stories for my essay, and while there are a lot of similarities, the core message changed quite a bit. Don’t get too attached to any one story or theme and allow yourself to let go of a draft if it’s not the right one. What I found most helpful was having 2-3 close friends that I trust wholeheartedly review multiple drafts, because they were able to provide continuous feedback and help me combine pieces from multiple drafts. None of them had ever gone to or applied to business school, but were experienced in writing and communication (e.g. one is a screenwriter) which helped me focus on communicating MY story more so than what is the story that HBS Admissions would most like.”

A successful Harvard Business School application essay [2016]

This sample essay is from  The Harbus MBA Essay Guide  and is reprinted with permission from Harbus. 

Essay: The Mechanical Engineer

Author’s home country: United States of America Author’s previous industry/profession: Operations consulting, operations management  Author gender: Male

Analysis:   The author focuses his essay on two themes – his professional experience as an operations consultant and an experience which motivated him to go for an MBA. Through the essay, the author is able to highlight his professional skills, achievement as well as give a clear picture of his long-term career plans and his reasons for doing an MBA.

I’m [APPLICANT’S FIRST NAME] and I have journeyed here from the hallowed grounds of [APPLICANT’S U.S. NEW ENGLAND HOMETOWN], where I spent my formative years amid wild dreams of achieving greatness by setting world records and winning the Olympics. As I’ve hung up my [OLYMPIC SPORT’S TRADITIONAL SHOES] in favor of business shoes, those dreams have evolved into a desire to achieve greatness in a different arena. Today, my dream centers on helping companies leverage technology to propel their operations into the future, providing unparalleled customer service and delivery, with an operational efficiency to match.

I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in [GRADUATION YEAR] and spent my first 3 years out of college working as an operations consultant. It was my job to walk into a manufacturing plant and drive significant operational change – for example, I once spent 3 months walking the sticky floors of a milk plant in [MID-SIZED U.S. SOUTHEASTERN CITY] helping plant management boost throughput by 30% in order to take on a new customer. We accomplished this goal with zero capital spend, a feat many had believed was impossible. In our projects, the biggest challenge was almost always convincing managers to reach for that extra tad of unseen opportunity hiding within the operation, because oftentimes it was very difficult to look beyond the daily struggles that plagued their operations. I worked directly with 5-8 person “rapid results teams,” coaching them on how to think about operational improvement, motivating them to sprint towards it, and leading them through the analysis required to capture it. I left those milk, water and oil sands plants with many enduring friendships and inspiring operational victories borne from our journey from ambitious goals to concrete results.

<< READ: What is HBS Looking For? >>

I’ve spent the past two years working in supply chain management at a private industrial goods supplier. I chose direct management because I wanted to drive these same inspirational improvements in an operation I owned. My role was to manage and improve the operation, and through my experience, I learned the nuts and bolts of the supply chain industry. However, my dream of innovating supply chain operations pushed me to consider transitioning to an organization with an ambitious, transformative purpose. In fact, last year I had a unique opportunity to reflect on what type of impact matters to me. This opportunity was my first ever trip to [NORTHWEST AFRICAN REGION], the place of my family’s origin.

On the second day of the trip, I journeyed to [LOCAL NORTHEASTERN AFRICAN TOWN], a small town nestled next an enormous active volcano that is surrounded by a wide expanse of rich volcanic soil, which is used to make wine. This wine is sipped by adventure-seeking tourists relaxing after a long day on the volcano, and thus the town’s two major industries, wine and tourism, are sustained. When we arrived at the town, I was shocked to see it buried by an avalanche of volcanic rock from an eruption [A FEW YEARS PRIOR]. As our guide lamented on the dreary prospects of the Page 2 of 2 town, I was amazed to see just how important these two industries had been to its development.

Through this real world example, I was able to clearly visualize the impact businesses can have on their broader environment, an understanding that had not been as evident to me while working in the larger, more complex American economy. For example, I had spent hours walking among the dilapidated buildings speckling the warehouse district in Cleveland, but only after my trip did I connect them to the decline of the Midwestern manufacturing industry. Upon my return, armed with this broader perspective, I decided my next step would be to attend business school. There I would gain the technical, operational and leadership skills to make my transition to an organization whose goal was to drive change in its broader industry and community, as those wine and tourism companies had done in [LOCAL NORTHEASTERN AFRICAN TOWN OF FAMILY’S ORIGIN].

So, that is how I arrived in front of you today. My goal is to humbly learn as much as I can from our section, our professors, and our experiences. I am excited to get to know you, and will always do my best to support our section intellectually and athletically (we will be the future section Olympics champions!).

How about yourself?

Word Count: 711

Author’s comment:   While the initial draft of my essay did not take more than an hour or two, it was the revision process that I spent a significant amount of time on. I think the most important part of the essay writing process is to ensure that your story and personality come through – and this is perhaps the most difficult part! To help with this, I had individuals who were not as familiar with my story and why I wanted to go to business school provide me with feedback in addition to those with whom I worked closely.

Linda’s comment:

I would hate for any of you to read this essay or any of the other essays in  The Harbus MBA Essay Guide , which I recommend, and think “This is a great template. I’m going to tell a story just like this one!” Bad idea. Wrong response.

The one take-away from this essay and the other successful essays in this book is that the reader feels a little like s/he is meeting the author – not someone else and not some masked being.  Individuality is the common thread in those essays; it isn’t brilliant prose or incredible writing. It’s authenticity and humanity. And yes, the author is accomplished too.

I chose this essay from the Harbus collection because I know there are many engineers applying. Some — both in and out of their field — think of the profession as boring or common. But this essay is neither boring nor common. I loved it because the writer comes to life, and  his passion  and personality shine through. He doesn’t get bogged down in technicalities, industrial jargon, or an alphabet soup of acronyms. He tells his story with energy and clarity, from his perspective, and with a focus on his impact.

Now that’s an example you can follow: Tell  your  story with energy and clarity, from  your  perspective, and with a focus on  your  impact.

Check out what recent applicants have to say about working with Accepted:

A successful harvard business school application essay [2015], the 2014-15 harvard business school essay question:.

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores, and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

This sample essay is from The Harbus MBA Essay Guide and is reprinted with permission from Harbus.  

Essay: The Author

Author’s Background: Finance & Media

The author sets the stage for the remainder of the essay by first presenting a notable accomplishment of hers and then explicitly illustrating the entrepreneurial drive and diligence she used to see it through. More importantly, the author’s opening introduces a theme – storytelling – that is consistently interwoven through different stages of her life. The reader is lead through the author’s childhood, professional and extracurricular experiences, along with accomplishments, all the while being reminded of the integral role storytelling has played. Beyond highlighting her gift, or passion for the art of storytelling, the author goes on to connect this theme with her future career ambitions, as well as describe how this could also serve the HBS community.

In 2012, I realized a life ambition – I completed my first novel, all while working full time at [Top U.S. Investment Bank]. I could not wait to share it with the world and eagerly went in search of a literary agent. But each agent I contacted declined to represent my novel.

Storytelling is my lifelong passion; it saw me through a difficult childhood. After my father left, my mother raised me as a single parent in [U.S. City/State], a rural Bible Belt town two hours south of [U.S. State]. We did not have much money and that coupled with my bookishness made me a target for bullies. Books and writing were an escape; they gave me an avenue to articulate the feelings of abandonment and powerlessness I otherwise did not want to express. Writing made me happy and the more I wrote, the more my talent blossomed. I began to win awards and my work was published in youth literary journals. These experiences made me more confident, a key part of my success later in life. It all started with a pen, a notebook, and my imagination. Nevertheless, I was passionate about my work and was determined to put it into readers’ hands. In true entrepreneurial fashion, I self-published my novel through the digital platforms Smashwords and Createspace. I worked with a promotional expert to organize a month-long book tour to promote the book to prominent book bloggers and their readers. The result? My novel has received multiple 5-star reader reviews, from Amazon to Goodreads, and was a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Stories are an integral part of the human experience. They uplift and inspire, give us permission to dream and to visualize what could be. Storytelling has been an integral part of my career, from building financial models at [Top U.S. Investment Bank] that illustrated my expectations for the companies that I covered to delivering a presentation to [International Daily Newspaper] ’s chief revenue officer explaining why reducing ad prices for tender house advertisers would not lead to an increase in revenue.

My passion has also informed my growth as a leader; I believe my most impactful expressions of leadership have been my efforts to help others write the narratives of their own lives and careers. At [Top U.S. Investment Bank], I created an informal mentorship program for female and minority interns and first-year analysts in the research division and led a “soft skills” class to help new analysts handle difficult interpersonal situations. For four years, I’ve mentored a young Hispanic woman through Student Sponsor Partners, a nonprofit that gives low-income students scholarships to private high schools. Being a mentor gave me the privilege of guiding another first generation college student along what I know can be a lonely, difficult path. This fall, she started college with a full scholarship.

Storytelling will be a part of my future career path; as an MBA graduate, my goal is to obtain a position in strategy and business development at an entertainment company that specializes in film or television. Long term, I want to start a multimedia and merchandising company with a publishing arm (books and magazines) as well as film, TV, and digital operations. Using strong, fictional heroines and informative lifestyle content, my company’s goal will be to educate and inspire women to become their best selves. My particular focus is creating compelling, multidimensional characters to inspire young women of color, who are constantly bombarded by negative images of women who look like them in media.

I’m pursuing a Harvard MBA because I want to become a better business strategist and strong general manager. Also, I want to further develop my leadership and presentation skills as I will manage professionals on the content and business side; it will be my task to unite them behind a shared strategic vision. Specifically, I want to learn how to motivate teams and individuals to perform at their highest level, and to become more adept at persuasion and generating “buy-in” from others. Harvard’s unique approach using the case method and emphasis on leadership development will challenge me to grow in both these areas. I also feel that I have much to contribute to Harvard’s community. My varied background in finance and media has given me a unique perspective that will be valuable in classroom discussions and team projects. I want to share my passion for the entertainment industry with my classmates by chairing the Entertainment & Media club and planning conferences, career treks, and other opportunities.

My background gives me the capacity for fearless thinking that is needed to meet the challenges of the entertainment industry’s shifting landscape. A Harvard MBA will strengthen that foundation and help me to become the kind of dynamic leader who can bring the vision for my own company to life and be at the forefront of entertainment’s structural shift.

Time & Effort: “It was about 6 or 7 drafts. Not sure on the hours.”

Word Count: 805

This sample essay is from The Harbus MBA Essay Guide and is reprinted with permission from Harbus . We highly recommend the book!

If you would like advice on responding to this year’s HBS essay question, (which is different from the 2014-15 prompt) please read our Harvard Business School essay tips .

Linda’s comments:

Bottom line: You want your readers to feel like that they are meeting you — not someone else, not a scripted piece of shallow PR devoid of personality and humanity, and not some phony combo of you and the author of an essay in a guidebook or on a website. They really and truly want to meet you!

So think about your story. 

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Master of Business Administration (MBA) Programs - Admissions | Essays

Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes.

Your essays must be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be rescinded if you did not write your essays.  

  • Short Answer: Professional Aspirations
  • Essay 1: Change: _____ it
  • Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six")
  • Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

Short Answer: Professional Aspirations (150 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • What are your short-term career goals?

Essay 1: Change: _________ it (350 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. Using NYU Stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. Change: _____ it. Fill in the blank with a word of your choice. Why does this word resonate with you? How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern? Examples:

  • Change: Dare it.
  • Change: Dream it.
  • Change: Drive it.
  • Change: Empower it.
  • Change: Manifest it.
  • Change: [Any word of your choice] it.

Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. "Pick Six") Introduce yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. The Pick Six is a way to share more about the qualities you will bring to the Stern community, beyond your professional and academic achievements.   Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your "Pick Six" (no more than 3 sentences).
  • Six images that help illustrate your interests, values, motivations, perspective and/or personality.
  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website. Essay 3: Additional Information (optional) (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee and/or give context to your application. This may include important aspects of yourself not otherwise apparent in your application, including but not limited to: hardships you have encountered, current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.  

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Nedjee Corriolan, Admissions Coordinator at NYU Stern, shares her tips for the Pick 6 essay on our full-time MBA blog.

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A Guide to “Why MBA?” and “Why Our Business School?” Essays

D uring your MBA application campaign, you will almost certainly be asked why you believe you need an MBA. Often, this question is not just about “Why MBA?” it is also asking why you want an MBA from that particular business school.

The “Why MBA” Essay is your chance to convince admissions officers that their school is the perfect fit for what you are looking for in an MBA program. The best essays are both personal and specific. You need to effectively convey what you are seeking from an MBA program and tell the admissions committee why their school will best meet your needs. This article takes a close look at the “Why Our Business School” Essay and provides you with the insights, tools, and examples you need to succeed.

First, we’ll talk about the common mistakes that applicants make when writing a “Why MBA” Essay and highlight resources for preparing better answers. We’ll also share the characteristics of an outstanding essay response. We’ll even provide you with a set of building blocks for crafting a unique and powerful essay of your own.

In the final section of this article, we analyze a sample “Why Our Business School?” Essay so that you see all of the principles in this article in action.

Common Mistakes in a “Why MBA” Essay

You might seriously undermine your chances for admission to a top-tier program with a weak or generic answer to the “Why MBA” question.

Effectively answering this MBA essay question begins with careful research to select which business schools to apply to. That work will take more than browsing the rankings and spending a few minutes on each program’s website. When admissions committees ask you why you are applying to their school, you need to explain at a deeper level what you’re hoping to gain from an MBA program and how that exact school best meets your needs.

Because so many applicants submit generic, flawed answers to the “Why MBA” question, it’s worth spending a few moments examining an ineffective essay response.

Here we have printed an example MBA essay written by an aspiring student who failed to read this article and follow our advice:

I am applying to your school because I need a thorough grounding in general management and the key business disciplines. In your program, I will have the opportunity to study with world-class professors, alongside ambitious students who have distinguished themselves as future leaders. Your school’s alumni network will open doors and prepare me for long-term success. In short, I couldn’t be more excited about spending the next two years in your program and would be honored if offered the opportunity to do so.

This would-be MBA will cut and paste this response into all of his MBA applications and assume that he’s adequately explained his motivations for applying for an MBA. Months later, he’ll scratch his head and wonder what went wrong when the “ding letters” start rolling in from business schools he hoped to attend.

But what’s wrong with this example essay? His reasons for applying to the school appear logical on the surface, and he’s written flattering things about the program.

To understand the problems with this sample essay, put yourself in an admissions officer’s shoes. Would this essay response convince you that the applicant knows what sets your program apart from the others? Has he proven that your school is an excellent fit with his specific career goals, academic needs, and cultural expectations?

An effective “Why MBA” essay begins with thoughtful research on the programs available. If you haven’t started your school research , then you have plenty of work to do before you begin outlining the contents of this kind of essay. Once you have chosen your target programs, you’ll need to dig deeper into the specific resources each program offers that make it a good fit.

Research Tips for “Why Our School” MBA Essays

Where can you go to generate valuable material for a “Why Our Business School?” MBA essay? Here are some sources you may not have considered:

Visit the School

School visits will provide you with first-hand observations that admissions officers appreciate. For example, in your essays and interview, you can reference students you met and things that stood out to you while visiting the school. However, don’t go overboard; if it feels like you are name-dropping or padding your answer, this strategy can backfire.

Join Official Email Distribution Lists and Read Admissions Blogs

Many MBA admission offices communicate regularly through traditional and new media channels. We recommend that you make every effort to stay on top of information the admissions office publishes. Be sure to add your email to the distribution list of each school on your target list so that you don’t miss important news and events.

Follow Student Blogs

An increasing number of MBA students are writing blogs to share their experiences in business school; while some are sanctioned by the admissions office, others are not. Do not overlook these opportunities to benefit from current students’ eye-witness accounts.

Talk to Current Students

An information source even more valuable than a student blog is a chat, whether on the phone or in person, with a current student. Many MBA students are happy to play the role of ambassadors for their program and give you the “inside scoop” on classes, clubs, and the student experience. Officers of student clubs related to your personal or professional interests are possible options if you don’t have friends or friends-of-friends in your network. Make sure to respect the time of everyone you speak to — they are very busy people. Think carefully about what you want to learn so that you can ask questions that will lead to great insights for your “Why MBA” essay.

Chat with Alumni

The school’s alumni network is one of the most critical assets of any MBA program. Many alumni are ready and willing to tell you more about their experiences and relive their days in the program by sharing them with prospective students. Search your professional networks (such as LinkedIn) for connections to alumni from the schools you will apply to and ask them if they would be willing to have a quick chat with you about their alma mater.

Once you’ve gathered this information, it’s time to start thinking about which data points to include and how to assemble them. To do this successfully, you need to know how to score top marks with the admissions officer reading your essay.

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Please enter your email below to gain 30 days of free access to our MBA Essay Writing course. Learn about the five most frequently asked MBA application essay questions and access our brainstorming tools and sample essays.

How to Score Top Marks on the “Why MBA” Essay

The best answers to the “Why MBA” essay questions are both personal and specific. They are personal because they cover the unique challenges that you need to prepare for, given your short-term and long-term career goals. They are specific because they draw distinct connections between your motivations for an MBA and the distinctive resources that a particular school offers. An excellent response will prove that you don’t just want an MBA; you want an MBA from that individual school!

Let’s look at the characteristics of an outstanding “Why MBA” Essay.

First off, MBA admissions officers tend to use the “Why MBA” essay question as a test of your decision-making abilities and your ability to communicate your rationale for a decision. These skills are fundamental to succeeding in business school and as a business leader in the future.

Do you have crystal clear reasons for pursuing an MBA at that school? By this stage in your application process, you need to have the building blocks of a convincing case for pursuing an MBA and pursuing an MBA there . Armed with those points, you are ready to make your case to the admissions officers. Your overarching objective is to persuade admissions officers that attending this program will benefit you tremendously – not just any student, but you specifically.

In the earlier essay example, you learned not to cut-and-paste boilerplate reasons for why you want an MBA. Instead, show admissions officers that you genuinely understand the school’s unique resources and culture. “Boilerplate” answers like “I’m applying because you have great professors, an amazing student body, and a powerful alumni network” just won’t cut it. Look carefully at each point in your essay outline – if you can make the same point about any top MBA program, then you haven’t tailored your essay enough to prove to the admissions committee that you value what their school has to offer.

Building on that idea, write about the classes, clubs, professors, and special programs that matter most to you. An essay that sounds like a list of bullet points analyzing the program’s competitive advantages can entirely miss the mark. The things that are different about the school must connect to your learning goals — the new skills, knowledge, and experiences you hope to acquire in the program that will help you succeed in the future. Armed with a clear understanding of your learning agenda, tell admissions officers how you plan to close those gaps as a student at their school.

If you’ve done your school due diligence, you’ve taken active steps to get to know the program. However, simply name-dropping the professors, students, or alumni you’ve spoken to won’t help. Instead, tell your reader what you learned in your school research that impressed you and why.

Next, once you have a complete draft, consider the tone of your essay – have you expressed excitement and enthusiasm? Your emotional and personal reasons for applying can be just as convincing as the logical ones.

Finally, while some schools may ask a separate “what you plan to contribute” essay , this prompt offers another opportunity to share plans for being an active contributor on campus. For example, if you write about a student club that appeals to you, also tell the admissions officers how you might make the club even better as a student leader.

Let’s take a look at the content building blocks for an outstanding “Why MBA” Essay.

Content Building Blocks for the “Why MBA” Essay

You already know that, to create a strong “Why MBA” Essay, your points must be personal, specific, and convincing. The trick is to connect your learning goals — the new skills, knowledge, experience, and relationships you must have to succeed in your future career – with the unique resources that impressed you about the school — the academic programs, professors, student organizations, special programs, and relationships that only this school can offer you.

On the way to showing you an effective sample MBA essay, let’s look at the brainstorming process of a hypothetical applicant who has a plan for showcasing personal and specific evidence for her “Why MBA” essay.

Our case study applicant “Cheryl” plans to start a luxury retail goods company long-term. In general, Cheryl wants to build marketing expertise through an MBA. Specifically, she wants to acquire expertise in building a brand in the luxury retail sector. During her school research, she discovered that Columbia had several courses, professors, and resources that matched her learning goals. She combined her career planning and school research to create sharp points for her “Why MBA” essay.

First of all, Cheryl will go beyond boilerplate answers such as “I need to learn about marketing” and plans to write about the “Design and Marketing of Luxury Products Course” offered by Columbia.

Second, instead of a generic point about building relationships with her fellow students, she will make the more specific point that Columbia is the ideal place to build relationships in the luxury retail sector because of its location in New York, a global fashion hub. Furthermore, Columbia is one of only a handful of programs with a Retail and Luxury Goods Club, and Cheryl aspires to be the President of the club.

Finally, whereas the flawed sample essay refers vaguely to the appeal of “Top-Notch Professors, ” Cheryl is going to write about her plans to conduct a field study with the former CEO of Saks 5th Avenue, who, she learned, is currently a visiting professor at Columbia.

In the sample essay below, you can see how Cheryl assembled her content building blocks into a compelling “Why MBA” essay.

We hope this example convinces you of the power of synthesizing your development goals with thorough school research. If you do that, you will have points for your “Why MBA” essay that describe your learning goals and illustrate how they link to the school’s unique attributes and resources.

“Why Our School” Essay Sample

Introduction One of the most valuable things I have learned in my two years founding and building an Internet retailer is what I don’t know. After successfully selling my start-up to a larger firm, I have decided to apply for an MBA from Columbia to learn how luxury brands are built.

Lead/Thesis Columbia’s courses, professors, location, and extracurricular organizations make the program an ideal place to prepare me for my career aspirations to build a luxury goods brand.

“Why Our School” Point #1 At Columbia, I can learn how a fashion brand is built. I was thrilled to discover Columbia’s “Design and Marketing of Luxury Products” Course – where I would have the chance to study cases of successful luxury brands and to collaborate on a class project with designers from the Parsons School of Design.

“Why Our School” Point #2 Only at Columbia will I have the opportunity to study with Professor John Smith, a recognized guru in the luxury goods world and former CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue. Furthermore, in the school’s innovative Master Class program, I can engage with a luxury goods retailer in my second year and apply what I have learned about luxury brand building in the Columbia classroom.

Final Thoughts

When you conduct school research to determine which MBA programs to apply to, assess the program’s “fit” with your goals and preferences. Your “Why Our Business School?” essay is your chance to present that evidence to admissions officers to persuade them that their school is the perfect match with your academic needs, career goals, and cultural expectations. Aligning your interests with the program’s strengths and resources in a personal and specific way will get you one step closer to an acceptance letter from a top MBA program.

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UT Austin McCombs MBA Essays Guide: Overview, Tips & Examples

Looking to ace your UT Austin McCombs MBA application? Our comprehensive guide provides an overview, valuable tips, and real examples to help you craft compelling essays that stand out.

Posted March 1, 2024

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The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business offers a highly regarded MBA program that attracts students from all over the world. As part of the application process, prospective students are required to submit essays that provide insights into their background, experiences, goals, and why they believe they are a good fit for the McCombs MBA program.

UT Austin McCombs Application and the Role of Essays

Applying to the UT Austin McCombs MBA program is a multi-step process that starts with completing the online application form. The application form requires you to provide personal information, academic history, professional experience, and contact details. Additionally, you will be required to submit a resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

One crucial component of the application process is the essays. The essays provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their unique stories and stand out from the competition. The admissions committee uses the essays to gain insights into the applicants' personality, motivations, and potential contributions to the McCombs community.

When it comes to writing the essays, it is important to approach them with careful thought and consideration. The prompts provided by the McCombs MBA program are designed to elicit thoughtful responses that go beyond a simple reiteration of your resume or academic achievements. Instead, they aim to uncover your values, passions, and goals, allowing the admissions committee to understand what drives you and how you align with the program's mission and values.

One of the essay prompts may ask you to describe a challenging situation you have faced and how you overcame it. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills , resilience, and ability to learn from adversity. You can delve into the details of the situation, explaining the obstacles you encountered and the steps you took to overcome them. By sharing your thought process and the lessons you learned, you can provide the admissions committee with a deeper understanding of your ability to handle challenges and grow from them.

Another essay prompt may ask you to discuss your short-term and long-term career goals. This is your chance to articulate your aspirations and demonstrate your understanding of how the McCombs MBA program can help you achieve those goals. You can discuss the specific skills, knowledge, and resources offered by the program that align with your career aspirations. Additionally, you can highlight any relevant experiences or skills you have gained in your professional journey that will contribute to your success in achieving your goals.

Furthermore, the essays provide an opportunity for you to showcase your fit with the McCombs community . You can research the program's values, initiatives, and extracurricular activities to identify aspects that resonate with you. By demonstrating an understanding of the program's culture and how you can contribute to it, you can convey your genuine interest in being a part of the McCombs community.

It is important to approach the essays with authenticity and honesty. The admissions committee is looking for applicants who are genuine and self-aware, as these qualities are essential for success in the MBA program. Take the time to reflect on your experiences, values, and goals, and craft your essays in a way that reflects your true self.

In conclusion, the essays play a vital role in the UT Austin McCombs MBA application process. They provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their unique stories, demonstrate their fit with the program, and convey their aspirations and motivations. By approaching the essays with thoughtfulness, authenticity, and a deep understanding of the program, applicants can increase their chances of standing out and securing a spot in the prestigious McCombs MBA program.

UT Austin McCombs Essay Prompts (2023-2024)

The UT Austin McCombs MBA program typically releases essay prompts for each application cycle. The essay prompts for the 2023-2024 application cycle are as follows:

Essay Prompt 1: Describe a defining moment in your personal or professional life and explain how it shaped you.

Essay prompt 2: choose a current event or issue that you believe is significant to your future as a business leader. discuss why it is important to you and how you intend to make an impact., essay prompt 3: reflecting on your past experiences, discuss a time when you faced a challenge or setback. what did you learn from the experience, and how did it contribute to your personal growth.

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List of Expert Tips for Each McCombs Essay Prompt

Writing compelling essays that effectively address the prompts is essential to create a strong application. Here are some expert tips for each of the McCombs MBA essay prompts:

- Start with a captivating anecdote that illustrates the defining moment.

- Reflect on the impact of the defining moment on your values, beliefs, and goals.

- Share specific examples of how the defining moment influenced your decision-making or leadership abilities.

- Clearly articulate why this defining moment is relevant to your MBA application.

- Select a current event or issue that aligns with your passions and career goals.

- Demonstrate a deep understanding of the event or issue and its implications for the business world.

- Discuss your personal connection to the event or issue and how it aligns with your values and aspirations.

- Outline specific actions or initiatives you plan to take to make a meaningful impact in this area.

- Choose a significant challenge or setback that allowed you to demonstrate resilience and growth.

- Describe the specific circumstances and obstacles you faced during the experience.

- Reflect on the lessons and insights you gained from overcoming the challenge or setback.

- Explain how this experience has shaped your character, decision-making, or leadership skills.

MBA Essay Tips: How to Write Compelling Essays

Writing compelling MBA essays requires careful planning and thoughtful execution. Here are some tips to help you craft essays that leave a lasting impression:

  • Understand the prompts: Take the time to thoroughly understand the essay prompts and what the admissions committee is looking for.
  • Reflect on your experiences: Spend time reflecting on your personal and professional experiences to identify compelling stories and examples that align with the essay prompts.
  • Focus on authenticity: Be true to yourself and showcase your unique perspective, values, and goals in your essays.
  • Structure your essays: Organize your essays in a clear and coherent manner, with a captivating introduction, well-developed body paragraphs, and a strong conclusion.
  • Show, don't tell: Use vivid and specific examples to illustrate your points and bring your essays to life.
  • Edit and proofread: Take the time to review and edit your essays for clarity, grammar, and spelling errors. Consider seeking feedback from trusted friends or professionals.

UT Austin McCombs Essay Examples From Success Admits — With Analysis

Looking for inspiration? Success Admits is a valuable resource that provides UT Austin McCombs essay examples from successful applicants. These examples, along with expert analysis, can help you understand the elements that make a strong essay and how to effectively structure your own essays.

UT Austin McCombs Essay FAQs

Still have questions about the UT Austin McCombs MBA essays? Here are some frequently asked questions:

  • Q: How long should the essays be?
  • A: The recommended length for each essay is typically around 500 words. However, it's important to focus on quality over quantity.
  • Q: Can I exceed the word limit?
  • A: It is generally advisable to adhere to the word limit provided. Admissions committees appreciate concise and well-crafted essays.
  • Q: Should I address all the essay prompts?
  • A: It is highly recommended to address all the essay prompts to provide a comprehensive view of your experiences and aspirations.

By following these guidelines and investing time in crafting compelling essays, you can increase your chances of securing a spot in the UT Austin McCombs MBA program. Let your unique story shine through and demonstrate why you are a perfect fit for this renowned program.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay—With Examples

    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.

  2. MBA Personal Statement Examples for 2022 Applicants

    Learn how to write compelling MBA essays with tips and sample essays from Accepted.com. Find out how to show your background, goals, leadership, passion, and experience in your application.

  3. MBA Essay Examples for top ranked Business Schools

    Samples of MBA essays submitted by real candidates who were accepted to Wharton, Harvard, SINSEAD and other top ranked business schools.

  4. 50 MBA Essays That Got Applicants Admitted To Harvard & Stanford

    This collection of 50 successful HBS and GSB essays, with smart commentary, can be downloaded for $60. They are two of the most selective schools, routinely rejecting nine or more out of every ten applicants. Last year alone, 16,628 candidates applied to both schools; just 1,520 gained an acceptance, a mere 9.1% admit rate.

  5. 20 Great MBA Application Essay Samples (With Links)

    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 ...

  6. 20 Must-Read MBA Essay Tips

    Learn how to write an unforgettable B-school essay that showcases your unique qualities, goals and fit for each program. Avoid common pitfalls such as generic, off-topic or sloppy essays.

  7. Five Tips for Writing Your Best MBA Admissions Essays

    Here are five tips for compelling essays that will stick in the minds of the admissions committee and help you get into your top choice business school program. 1. Stay focused and answer the question asked. It's surprising how often candidates write beautiful essays but do not answer the question. While I certainly endorse thinking outside ...

  8. Essential MBA Essay Tips

    Start writing your MBA admission essay early and carefully proofread before submitting. Clearly communicate the qualities that will lead you to success in an MBA program. Use a sound storytelling structure and avoid relying too much on sample MBA essays. Stay on topic, write succinctly, and never exceed the word limit.

  9. 2 MBA Admissions Essays That Worked

    Examples of Outstanding MBA Essays. Here are two MBA essays that made the cut. The first is from the Fox School of Business and the second is from Yale. These essays are annotated with comments ...

  10. MBA Essays: Everything You Need to Know

    Goals Essay. When answering a question about your MBA goals, it is crucial that you are decisive. While no one will hold you to what you write in your MBA applications, you should have a specific post-MBA plan. For most schools, you will want a short-term and a long-term career goal. This goal should be logical for you.

  11. MBA Essay Examples and Tips

    Feature the traits and tell the stories that depict "you" at your best. 2. Sample MBA essays can undermine your confidence in your MBA candidacy. The essays that get published as samples are often truly eye-catching, dramatic, and sensational - stories of exceptional accomplishment, rare feats, or extreme obstacles.

  12. MBA Essay Examples

    MBA Essay Tips and Examples. Crafting a successful MBA application essay can be challenging. Click the icons below to read our expert advice on how to approach each business school's application essays, plus read illustrative sample essays to inspire you.

  13. 7 Tips for Writing a Winning MBA Application Essay

    First, MBA admissions committees want to see how you write. Communication skills—including concision, clarity, style, and fluency in English—will be essential to your success in business school. One way of discerning your level of writing ability is to require an original writing sample. In an MBA essay, you have to get your point across ...

  14. Learn How to Create a Memorable MBA Application Essay

    2. Use only your voice. Tell us your story in a natural and honest way. Tell us what you really think, not what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Your response should be descriptive, straightforward and sincere. Take time to think, then write - these are not easy questions to answer. 3.

  15. How to Write a Great MBA Personal Statement

    In an interview with Poets & Quants, she points out that many successful HBS essays follow a typical structure. First, they state the applicant's goals, then identify three or four crucial experiences that helped shape those goals. Frequently, candidates also include how those experiences helped form their values.

  16. MBA Personal Statement Tips and a Sample Essay

    Here I will dissect an actual successful personal statement essay from a past applicant so you can learn some of the "dos" and "don'ts" in revealing your fit with your target MBA program. One quick note—this sample essay is not meant to be used as a template. I suggest that you use it as a resource, but do not copy it!

  17. MBA admission essay samples

    Check out more Kellogg MBA essay examples! MBA Admission Essays: Sample #4. Prompt from Columbia University: Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words) When I first started writing this essay, I began by writing a list of all my favorite books. I had filled about two pages with titles when I ...

  18. How to Write a Killer MBA Essay

    Other peoples' essay examples don't focus on your achievements, values, motivations, or experiences. In their essays, originality and authenticity are two critical themes that business schools look for because your life is unique. Remember, MBA essay writing is all about getting to know you, and your essays should truly reflect who you are ...

  19. Essays

    If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs. Length. Both essays combined may not exceed 1,050 words. We recommend up to 650 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. ... Pertinent examples include: Extenuating circumstances affecting your candidacy, including academic ...

  20. Sample Essays from Admitted HBS Students

    Word Count: 805. This sample essay is from The Harbus MBA Essay Guide and is reprinted with permission from Harbus. We highly recommend the book! If you would like advice on responding to this year's HBS essay question, (which is different from the 2014-15 prompt) please read our Harvard Business School essay tips.

  21. Essays

    Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes. Your essays must be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be rescinded if you did not write your essays. Short Answer: Professional Aspirations.

  22. Why MBA? and Why Our School? Essay Samples

    The "Why MBA" Essay is your chance to convince admissions officers that their school is the perfect fit for what you are looking for in an MBA program. The best essays are both personal and specific. You need to effectively convey what you are seeking from an MBA program and tell the admissions committee why their school will best meet your ...

  23. UT Austin McCombs MBA Essays Guide: Overview, Tips & Examples

    The UT Austin McCombs MBA program typically releases essay prompts for each application cycle. The essay prompts for the 2023-2024 application cycle are as follows: Essay Prompt 1: Describe a defining moment in your personal or professional life and explain how it shaped you. Essay Prompt 2: Choose a current event or issue that you believe is ...