Your MBA essay is the critical element in the admissions process that can convey your uniqueness and distinguish your profile in a sea of excellence. View essay strategies, tips and insights for each of the business schools on your list.
Several top programs have debuted new MBA essays for the 2021-2022 season, including Columbia, NYU Stern, and IESE. Others have refreshed questions or amended word counts like Wharton, Stanford GSB, and London Business School. As each application opens, Fortuna’s expert coaches – industry experts and former MBA admissions gatekeepers at the world’s top MBA programs – offer insider advice on how to tackle each question. Beyond the MBA essay analysis below, view Fortuna's YouTube channel for our latest MBA Admissions Masterclasses and other video strategy sessions.
Best MBA Essay for HBS: 5 Tips on What Harvard Wants
Your essay is often the make or break factor for getting into HBS. Character doesn’t show up on a resume, in your test scores, or through grades or your academic transcripts. Your opportunity to show them what you are made of, what drives you, is in the essay. The competition is fierce, so this is the place where you can convince them you have what it takes to be part of this incredible community.
Wharton MBA Essay Tips & Strategy
Wharton lightly refreshed the wording of its career goals question for the 2021-2022 season, but its essay pairing remains in tact. Wharton also wants to understand your ‘origin story’ and how it informs the next steps of your leadership journey: what you envision doing while a graduate student in Philadelphia and then as an alumnus of the school as you continue to make an impact on your wider community.
Stanford GSB Essays: Tips & Strategies on Writing What Matters Most
From its iconic ‘What Matters Most & Why’ question to its newer short-answer optional prompts, the GSB essays present a formidable exercise in self-awareness – to understand why we do the things we do, why we make certain choices in life, and the opportunities and challenges we face. Take this on as a personal feat, not just a series of MBA essay questions.
INSEAD Essays: Strategy & Tips for Conquering All 7 Prompts
With seven essays ringing in at a collective 2,000 words, the INSEAD essays are among the longest of any top-tier MBA application. And that’s not including the two optional essays given by this prestigious international institution. This can seem daunting when you’re first starting out and staring at a blank page.
Chicago Booth Essays: Tips & Strategies
For the 2020-2021 application cycle, Booth replaced its second essay question and added a pre-interview video prompt. Read on for tips and advice on how to tackle Chicago Booth’s MBA essay questions.
London Business School Essays: Tips & Strategy
The very best London Business School essays give the Admissions Committee insight into what has motivated your post-MBA career goals and how an LBS education will help you achieve them.
NYU Stern Essays: Strategy & Tips for Success
What do you want to do, and who do you want to be? Taken together, the sum of Stern’s required essays should convey a clear and inspiring direction for your professional life, guided by your motivations, ambitions, ideals, and values. For the 2021-2022 season, the MBA admissions committee debuted a tricky new essay question that asks you to script your personal tagline in the context of Stern's savvy new brand.
Berkeley Haas Essays: Strategy & Tips
Haas is looking for candidates who demonstrate self- and situational awareness, which is an invitation to be both introspective and authentic across your essays – and certainty to do your research beyond a cursory website review.
IMD Essay Tips & Strategy for Career Questions
IMD’s four required essays require you to be both succinct and self-reflective. The intense, fast-paced nature of the one-year MBA means that successful candidates must hit the ground running, and the additional career focused questions for IMD’s application reflect this awareness. Read on for advice from Fortuna’s Karen Ponte on what IMD is looking for and how to tackle each essay and career development question.
UCLA Anderson Essay Strategy & Tips
Over the last few years, UCLA Anderson has amended its required essays with ever-slimmer word counts, challenging applicants to be as direct and incisive as possible. Last year it made the bold move of wiping the slate clean and replacing its slate of essays with a singular question, which endures for the 2021-2022 season.
HEC Paris Essays & Interview Presentation
HEC Paris maintains an impressive five required essays and one optional question, ranging from the practical ‘why HEC Paris’/why now’ to the provocative, ‘Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be?’ Thankfully, most are short answer questions (250-word max), and taken together, they offer valuable storytelling opportunities.
Kellogg MBA Essays Strategy & Tips
The key to delivering a series of standout essays to Kellogg is to embrace your genuine story and experience. Weaving an authentically crafted narrative that conveys your passions and clarity of purpose — in a way that elicits emotional impact — this is the secret sauce in creating a connection to an admission reader’s heart. View essential tips for each essay, decoding what Kellogg is looking for in the 2021-2022 season.
Kellogg Video Essay & How to Tackle the New Question
Kellogg has replaced question 3 of its video essays with a prompt that asks about a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it. The good news is that the school gives you all three video questions up front. The bad news is that this new question is a doozy. Your challenge – and opportunity – is to respond in a way that’s concise, meaningful and introspective.
Columbia Business School: How to Tackle the MBA Essays
CBS continues to evolve its essay questions to require a deeper level of self-reflection. New this year, Columbia gives you a choice for essays 2 and 3, which includes a prompt related to diversity and inclusion. Its essay questions invite you to display who you are under the surface, beyond the ambitious achiever with a sparkling record of successes. Your responses should help build a coherent and powerful narrative for your candidacy.
MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Strategy: How to Tackle the Application
MIT Sloan’s MBA application typifies the institution’s innovation ethos and forgoes the norms of its M7 peers. But just because it doesn’t have standard essays doesn’t mean it’s not about powerful storytelling. It’s a beast of an application, and tackling it successfully requires a different strategy than any other program.
Duke Fuqua Essays:
Top Tips + ‘25 Random Things About YOU’ Example
The Fuqua essay questions are an opportunity for you to tell your story in a way that speaks to Fuqua’s core values and demonstrate fit with this incredibly collaborative and close-knit community culture. View essay analysis and tips for responding, including an example of a successful '25 Random Things' essay.
Carnegie Mellon Tepper Essay Tips & Strategy
With a small class size of 200, Tepper MBA Admissions places a high value on creating an inclusive and tight-knit community that is committed to making a positive impact on each other, business, and the world. As such, Tepper perceives your self-reflection and ability to appreciate differences as profound assets to a culture of innovation. These values are woven into Tepper’s new MBA essay question.
Yale SOM Essay Tips & Strategy
Believing that past behavior is the best predictor of future success, Yale SOM poses a straightforward behavioral question for its singular essay. Fortuna’s Zach White discusses what the Admissions Committee is looking for, along with top tips for crafting your response to the essay and the short-answer career goals questions.
Cambridge Judge Essay Tips & Strategy
Cambridge Judge has evaded the b-school trend of fewer MBA essays, requiring your thoughtful response to no less than four required questions. Yet its brief word counts offer slim real estate to work with when you’re trying to be substantive as well as succinct. The full slate of Cambridge Judge essays pose a puzzle that you must put together without being repetitive, and the trick is to ensure each stand-alone essay is artfully executed while keeping the overall narrative in mind.
Dartmouth Tuck Essays: Strategy & Tips
For the 2021-2022 season, Tuck introduces a revised essay #3. It’s important to know from the outset that the Tuck Admissions Committee uses its four sets of admissions criteria as a framework to evaluate every piece of your application, and each of the three required essays maps to one of Tuck’s criterion. Read on for the Fortuna team’s best advice on how to bring laser focus to the process of building a narrative that's compelling and persuasive to Tuck Admissions.
IESE Essays: Strategy & Tips
IESE has three essay questions (two required, one optional) that require your introspection and creativity, from who do you admire most and why to clarifying your post-MBA career goals and illuminating something unique about yourself or your journey. View our insider tips and strategy for tackling all three MBA essay questions.
Texas McCombs MBA Essays for 2021-2022: Tips & Strategy
Texas McCombs gives you some creative latitude in how you respond to its ‘introduce yourself’ prompt: either write an essay or share a one-minute video introduction. Fortuna’s Sharon Joyce explains why you should pursue the video option, along with other key tips for distinguishing your uniqueness and making a powerful case for admission to McCombs.
Your business school essays are about bringing your story to life and providing context to your application by connecting the dots for the MBA Admissions Committee. You’ll want to capture an admissions reviewer’s attention with your story and authenticity, persuading them to learn more by inviting you to interview.
To get there, your essays should convey a strong sense of who you are as a person and what makes you tick, up and beyond what the admissions team will glean from your academic record and work history.
The exercise of crafting your MBA essays is both extremely important and a significant challenge. Doing so in a way that’s authentic, poignant and clear requires considered introspection and self-awareness – precisely what the MBA admissions process looks to inspire and evoke.
The worst thing you can do is play it safe and write something you think admissions wants to hear (yawn). This is a medium to be courageous, although memorable cuts both ways – how well you walk the line between original (good!) and weird (lamentable) reflects your judgment.
The more you explore who you are and what makes you tick, the better prepared you are to determine – and deliver on – a compelling, compact story that will resonate with reviewers and interviewers.
If the prospect of distilling your essence into essay form makes your stomach seize (especially the quant-leaning among us), you’re not alone. At Fortuna Admissions, our coaches are seasoned at helping candidates to uncover unique strengths, hone their story, and shape their narrative to stand out in a sea of excellence.
Remember: It isn’t the facts and figures of your accomplishment-filled resume that will stand out to a bleary-eyed admissions reader in a marathon day of application-reviews – it’s an unforgettable story. Let’s talk about yours.