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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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How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay—With Examples

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

Posted August 17, 2023

mba essay formatting

Featuring Anjali A.

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Thursday, september 28.

1:00 AM UTC · 60 minutes

What is the MBA Essay?

The MBA admissions essay.

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

Of course, you still have to write these essays.

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

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

Without further ado, let's dive in!

Free MBA Essay Guide

Enter your email in the form below to receive our FREE MBA Essay Guide. This guide breaks down a system to help you brainstorm ideas, create structured outlines, write powerful essays, and polish them into a finished product.

How Long Will My MBA Essay Take?

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

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

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

Now, on to the critical question:

What Makes a Great MBA Essay?

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

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

1. Answer the Question

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

2. Be Specific

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

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

Get Vulnerable

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

4. Don't Exaggerate

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

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The Types of MBA Essays

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

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

1. Personal Statement

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

  • As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (HBS)
  • What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford GSB)

2. Why an MBA/Why This School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Behavioral/Other

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

  • Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (Yale SOM)
  • Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (Columbia)
  • Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? (Stanford GSB)

Top MBA Program Essay Prompts (Updated 2022)

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

1. Harvard Business School (HBS)

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (900 words)

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

2. Stanford Graduate School of Business

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

Why Stanford? (400 words)

Read What Matters Most When Writing the GSB Essays.

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

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

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

4. Columbia Business School

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

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

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

5. Chicago Booth

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

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

Read more at A Guide to the Booth Essays .

6. Kellogg Northwestern

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

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

Read How to Nail Your Kellogg MBA Application Essays

7. MIT Sloan

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

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

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

How to Start Your MBA Essay

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Tips & Tricks

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

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

  • Take Breaks

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

  • Read it Out Loud

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

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

  • Complete Everything Early

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

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

Example MBA Essays

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

Haas Admit:

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

Booth Admit:

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

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

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

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HBS 2+2 is one of the most prestigious deferred MBA programs in the country. Here's an overview, with some tips on how to start your application.

mba essay formatting

How to Get the Perfect MBA Letter of Recommendation—With Examples

The ultimate guide to the MBA recommendation letter, including examples of letters that helped applicants earn admission to top 10 MBA programs.

mba essay formatting

MBA Essay Too Long? Here's How to Fix It

The word count of most MBA application essays is very limited. This article by an expert Leland MBA coach will give you 8 tips to help you keep your essays under the limit while still maintaining a compelling story.

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May 4, 2023

Why ChatGPT Can’t Write Your Personal Statement

While ChatGPT is multifaceted, there is a compelling argument against using AI for your personal statements. Here is one expert's take on the revolutionary technology and application essays.

mba essay formatting

August 21, 2023

Top 10 Deferred MBA Programs in the US—and How to Get In

Aiming for an MBA, even while you're still in college? Perfect—learn all about deferred admission MBA program and receive key insights into the DMBA application process.

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February 27, 2023

Craft a Powerful Essay for Stanford GSB: What Matters Most & Why?

Ben L., a GSB MBA, expert coach, and pro writer, outlines his top advice for nailing the challenging and broad Stanford essay prompt, to help you get into one of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world.

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August 4, 2023

A Guide to the Columbia Business School Essays (2023-2024)

Coach Melanie E. walks you through each Columbia Business School essay prompt for the 2023-2024 cycle, breaking down what adcoms are looking for and offering expert advice on how to nail your responses.

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Stanford GSB Deferred Enrollment Program

Interested in applying to the highly competitive deferred enrollment program at Stanford? We've got you covered with this overview, including who Stanford is looking for, application details, and more.

mba essay formatting

June 23, 2023

Wharton Moelis Advance Access Deferred MBA Program: What You Need to Know

An overview of Wharton's deferred enrollment MBA program, including who Wharton is looking for, how hard it is to get in, application details, and more.

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A Guide to the UC Berkeley Haas Accelerated Applicants Deferred MBA Program

Considering applying to Haas' Accelerated Applicants Deferred MBA Program? Look no further! In this guide, we delve into important information about the program, key deadlines, and tips for maximizing your application.

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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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GMAT Prep Online Guides and Tips

7 tips for writing a winning mba application essay.

mba essay formatting

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 essay formatting

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

mba essay formatting

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Top Five Tips for Writing Compelling MBA Admissions Essays

Erin Wand

Erin Wand - Personal MBA Coach

Erin Wand is an Featured Contributor and the Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Personal MBA Coach , a boutique MBA admissions consulting and tutoring firm.

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For many of the business school applicants I work with, the MBA admissions essay is the part of the application they dread the most.

Does that sound like you? It doesn’t have to be! If you’re unsure about how to start on your MBA admissions essays, don’t worry. This is your opportunity to move beyond your GMAT exam scores , GPA, or resume and reveal something deeper about yourself to the admissions committee. Read along for my best MBA admission essay tips.

Crafting winning MBA admissions essays

The question is: how to you write MBA admissions essays for top-tier programs that stand out from the stack and effectively tell your story? 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 of the box and considering the “why” behind an essay prompt, first and foremost you must answer the question.

Business school applicants like you are often highly accomplished, and it can be tempting to try to include as many of the details of your accomplishments as possible into your essays. It’s crucial that you avoid this urge and focus on the specific question at hand.

2. Less can be more: be succinct

A trend I’m seeing at many leading full-time MBA programs is shorter essay word limits. Michigan Ross , Stanford GSB , UCLA Anderson , and Duke Fuqua are just a few of the programs that have reduced their essay word counts in recent admissions cycles. This trend underscores a key piece of advice: be succinct!

Remember, your essays and short answers are just one part of your application. In addition to the details you’ll provide on the application form itself, you’ll also submit an MBA resume ( check out my resume tips here! ). This allows admissions committee members ample opportunity to read about everything you have accomplished, all the roles you have held, and the awards you have won. There is no need to fit every detail into your essays.

Instead of squeezing in as much as you can, focus on sharing a few key highlights, peppering in some interesting details, and convey your authentic voice through your writing. This is your chance to explain your choices, show your accomplishments, and share your passions. The fewer things you try to cover in your essays, the more you will be able to achieve this objective.

3. Be authentic, not what you think schools want to hear

I can’t emphasize this enough: do not write what you think admissions committee members want to read! The qualities and experiences that make you unique are your greatest selling points. Each essay should paint a clear picture of who you are, what motivates you, and what you’re passionate about.

Related to this, don’t feel compelled to show how you fit the mold that seemingly makes up the “ideal” candidate. If you have no desire to run a non-profit, that’s okay! If you’re not motivated to save the planet, don’t pretend you are! The admissions committee will see right through this, and you could end up doing more harm than good. Instead, focus your energy on simply being authentic.

4. Keep your language approachable and focus on the “so what?”

The terms you regularly use at the office may be foreign to others, including admissions committee members. When in doubt, do not assume the reader is familiar with everything about your job. Admissions directors come from all backgrounds and fields and are not assigned to candidates with similar backgrounds. They do not know the ins and outs of your industry and do not need to. In fact, details and accomplishments that are significant only to someone in your industry are less compelling than understandable results and transferable skills.

Everyone from your grandmother to a professor of microfinance should be able to understand your essays. So even if your accomplishment would be extremely impressive to another engineer or investment banker, if the reader doesn’t understand the “so what,” you’re wasting your words.

5. Limit the amount of flowery prose

Remember: You’ re not submitting your essays for a Pulitzer Prize. All you’re trying to do is tell your story. While of course you want your essays to be well-written and free of grammatical mistakes and typos, you also want them to be relatable and easy to follow. They should also convey why you are someone others would want to study with, learn from, and eventually be inspired by. That type of person is human and down to earth. Your essays should show this. 

Erin Wand is an Featured Contributor and the Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Personal MBA Coach , a boutique MBA admissions consulting and tutoring firm.

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Writing Guide for MBA Students Staff

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Updated October 19, 2022

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  • Narrative : This essay tells a story, such as a personal narrative of the writer's first day of high school. Writers explore topics through physical, emotional, or mental concepts. For instance, the personal narrative can address what the writer physically accomplished or experienced on that day. These stories require a main idea, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Students should provide vivid, but concrete, details so the narrative feels engaging to the reader.
  • Expository : Expository works explore topics for the purpose of providing information. For this reason, writers rely on facts and concrete language when constructing these pieces. Students may turn to logic and examples for idea support when an assignment's structure includes limited writing time. Descriptive essays, cause and effect pieces, and how-to papers qualify as expository. Expository essays should embrace standard format with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Persuasive: Persuasive pieces provide information to sway the audience's opinion. For this purpose, writers should employ solid facts, but may also appeal to the reader through logic and emotion. This process begins in the introduction since writers must convince the reader that the topic merits consideration. After establishing the topic's relevance and delivering a thesis, students should demonstrate the opinion's validity within the body paragraphs and sum up the paper's concepts in the conclusion.
  • Comparative : These pieces compare two or more concepts, such as books, opinions, or practices. Writers define the main idea of this comparison in a thesis and provide point-by-point information within the body paragraphs to support that thesis. For instance, a student explaining that two novels rely strongly on symbolism may state this concept in the thesis before addressing evidence in the body paragraphs. Often, comparative pieces discuss contrasting elements as well, making a Venn diagram a great prewriting strategy.
  • Cause and Effect: Students writing cause and effect pieces must choose a topic where one action led or leads to a definite result. As an example, a learner may discuss how economic concerns of the North and South provided a reason for the American Civil War. Writers constructing these papers, however, should ensure sound claims. For instance, labeling economic concerns as the only cause for the Civil War creates a logical error since other factors existed. Students should avoid all-consuming words, such as "only," "always," or "never."
  • Thesis/Dissertation: These papers conclude graduate programs and may require over 100 pages of writing. Learners choose research topics that can sustain their interest since a paper of this caliber may take over a year to complete. The MBA thesis or dissertation process varies by school. Some institutions, for example, may not require a thesis defense, while others may insist learners present their findings before a committee. Students should only use scholarly sources for an MBA dissertation or thesis, as these documents represent the highest form of student writing.

Citations Guide for MBA Students

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American Psychological Association (APA) Style

APA format, established in 1929 as a common citation format for scientific purposes, applies heavily to business, criminology, social science, and nursing courses today. This format requires a cover page, page headers, and page numbers, often including an abstract with information on the research process. Students must supply a source list with "References" as the header.

In-text citations include the author's last name, or the title of the work if no author is listed, and the publication year. The abbreviation for "no date" (n.d.) may substitute the year if needed. For quotes, supply a page number in the citation, but use a paragraph number or section heading if the source lacks page numbers.


Following this marketing plan, the company experienced an "epic economic turnaround" (Bailey & Doverman, 2017, p. 201).

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)

The University of Chicago Press established the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) format in 1906. Current anthropology, history, and philosophy students may encounter this citation style during their studies.

Chicago format includes a title page, page numbers, and a source list titled "Bibliography." Students may divide the paper into sections, but must incorporate format details when doing so. Center headings and use bold font. Chicago format also allows footnotes or in-text citations. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page and share similar structure with bibliography entries. In-text citations include the author's last name and year, with a comma separating this information from the page number.

Following this marketing plan, the company experienced an "epic economic turnaround" (Bailey and Doverman 2017, 201).

Modern Language Association (MLA) Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA), established in 1883, often surfaces in today's literature, communications, and theater classrooms.

MLA works do not need a cover page, and page headers only include the last name of the person writing the paper, followed by the page number of the document. Learners must, however, provide title-page information in the upper left-hand portion of the first page, such as the course name and date. Students should also include a source list titled "Works Cited" at the end of the document.

MLA in-text citations require the author's last name, or the title of the work if the author's name is unavailable, and a page number when possible, with no comma between them.

Example: Following this marketing plan, the company experienced an "epic economic turnaround" (Bailey and Doverman 201).

Associated Press (AP) Style

The AP style guide, originally published in 1977, addresses concepts beyond citation, such as grammar and wording. Journalism and news-related careers commonly use AP guidelines.

AP style prioritizes concise writing that clearly delivers the author's meaning. Mandated abbreviations for words, such as doctor, governor, and United States, contribute to this concision, as do the short paragraphs typically included in AP pieces.

This writing format does not include standard in-text citations or reference lists. Rather, writers supply reference information within the sentence that contains the source's ideas.

Example: Following this marketing plan, the company experienced an "epic economic turnaround," reports Bailey and Doverman.

Which Writing Style Should MBA Students Use?

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  • Purdue OWL : This site provides writers with information on grammar, citation, and essay format. Students explore these concepts through instructional documents or practice applying grammatical concepts through offered exercises. Specific types of writing covered through Purdue OWL include creative writing, journalistic writing, and technical writing.
  • Free Management Library : This site provides writing tips for viewers on topics, such as visual clarity and transitions, and also links students to outside sources for concepts that include proofreading and individualizing writing style.
  • HemingwayApp : This app's editing option highlights writing problems in different colors. Passive voice, for instance, appears in green, and adverbs in blue. The app also notes less concrete concerns, including sentences with confusing construction and sections needing more straightforward wording.
  • : This online service supplies students with assistance in essay writing. Learners may choose live tutoring sessions for general help regarding grammar concepts, tips for finding sources, assistance with paper construction, or request a proofread in live or asynchronous sessions.
  • Grammarly : Writers may copy their work into the Grammarly Editor to find areas with potential errors. Additionally, Grammarly offers a free writing handbook and maintains a blog that writers may use for reference. Students, however, should proofread documents before submission as any online tool may misinterpret wording.

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MBA Essay Examples, Tips, and Analysis

Y our MBA application essays are your best opportunity to share meaningful life experiences that hide in the “white spaces” of the resume and to tell admissions officers not only “what” you have achieved but also “why” those achievements are meaningful to you.

Your MBA application essays are going to be crucial if you are competing for a spot at one of the world’s top business schools.

These resources will show you how to excel in the rigorous MBA essay writing challenges ahead of you, provide you with the guidance to create MBA essays that will impress admissions officers, and share MBA essay examples that illustrate our advice in action.

Second, we survey the five most frequently asked MBA essay questions. We preview video essay questions and link to detailed guidance on how to tackle this emerging class of application essays.

Third, we will teach you how to choose topics and stories for your essays and share a story-outlining technique to help you tell those stories.

Common MBA Essay Forms: Persuasive versus Narrative Essays

There are two primary forms that MBA application essays take: persuasive essays and narrative essays. In a persuasive essay, you must persuade your reader that your argument is a sound one. An op-ed column in a newspaper is one example of a persuasive essay.

The classic “What Will You Contribute to the Class?” question is an excellent example of a persuasive essay question that MBA programs like to ask. The essay you write must persuade the admissions committee that you will enrich next year’s class. You will generally present evidence from past experiences and achievements to support your claims about what you can offer the MBA community.

The other style of essay you’ll encounter in your MBA applications is the narrative essay. Certain MBA essay questions don’t sound like questions at all; they are, in fact, an invitation for you to tell a story. We refer to these as narrative essays – but others call them behavioral essays or expository essays.

The Leadership Story Essay is a perfect example of a narrative essay. It’s one thing to claim to be a leader – but it’s quite another to show the admissions committee that you’re a leader by telling a captivating leadership story in which you played the starring role.

While MBA essays often fall into these two categories, the actual prompts will differ from school to school. Let’s discuss the five most frequently asked MBA essay questions. ↑ To the Top

The Five Most Frequently Asked MBA Essay Questions

Every business school application requires you to answer one or more MBA essay questions. Although the essay prompts differ from application to application, we identified five types of MBA application essay questions that appear again and again.

Career Goals Essays

A career goals essay question regularly appears in one form or another on just about every MBA application. Even if you aren’t required to write this type of essay, you will almost certainly be asked about your post-MBA career goals during an admissions interview.

Admissions committees ask about your career plans because they want to understand what you aspire to do after your MBA and how the MBA degree fits into your career plan. As it turns out, a strong career goals essay is one of the best tools in your application to stand out from MBA candidates who don’t have a compelling career vision or haven’t effectively articulated their professional goals in their MBA application essays.

Leadership Essays

Leadership essays are your absolute best opportunity to convince MBA admissions committees of your leadership abilities. Remember that MBA admissions officers will be interested in your leadership achievements both inside and outside of work.

You probably won’t be asked directly, “Are you a leader?” Instead, you’ll be asked to tell stories about your leadership achievements. When given the opportunity, you need to supply evidence that you can rally other people and motivate them to work together to achieve an important shared vision or goal. Therein lies the objective of a great leadership essay.

Why MBA? and Why Our School? Essays

The “Why MBA? Why Our School?” essay is your chance to convince admissions officers that their school is the perfect fit for what you need from an MBA program. The best answers to these types of questions are both personal and specific. You need to effectively convey what you are looking for in an MBA program and tell the admissions committee why their school will best satisfy your learning goals and help you achieve your career development objectives.

“What Will You Contribute?” Essays

The “What Will You Contribute?” essay presents you with an opportunity to tell the MBA Admissions Committee why you would be a valuable addition to their incoming class. The schools are looking for candidates who can put in just as much as they take out. One critical thing to understand when preparing to answer these questions is that concrete and tailored answers about what you can contribute to each MBA program are crucial.

Professional Experience Essays

The professional experience essay is an executive summary of your career thus far. A resume is a record of jobs and achievements — a Professional Experience Essay provides the connections and interrelationships between those jobs and brings your resume to life. An effective Professional Experience essay will give the admissions committee a sense of the career decisions you’ve made, your major achievements in each step of your career, and the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired along the way.

MBA Application Video Essays

MBA admissions committees are increasingly relying on technology to help them evaluate and manage their growing applicant pools. MBA application video essays are becoming a popular tool, as MBA programs can use them to learn far more about candidates than the traditional application permits. In recent years, leading MBA programs including Kellogg Northwestern , MIT Sloan , and Chicago Booth have incorporated a video component into their evaluation process. Video essays are excellent screening tools that allow admissions officers to assess candidates’ professional presence and communication skills.

Free MBA Essay Writing Course

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.

No matter which type of MBA essay question you are tackling, your primary objective is to provide evidence that proves you possess the qualities that admissions committees value most. By doing so, you will move one step closer to an acceptance letter from a top business school.

Now that you have a better picture of the classic MBA essay questions you’re likely to face, let’s cover selecting the strongest stories to present in your MBA application essays.

How to Choose the Best Stories for your MBA Essays

Story selection is something all MBA applicants wrestle with. When you first read the MBA application essay questions, it may be hard to figure out which topics to cover or which of your stories to tell. We’ll explain how to go step-by-step to choose your best stories. Here are the steps:

Research the School’s Fit Qualities

Categorize the question.

  • Brainstorm Topic/Stories

Choose a Topic or Story

To choose your best stories, you need to know what qualities MBA programs truly value when evaluating applicants. You want to tell stories that prove to the admissions officers that you possess the attributes they seek in MBA candidates. We refer to these as the school’s Fit Qualities . You might think of them as the highest-common denominators among the candidates who are accepted.

Early in your MBA essay writing process is the time to make some strategic choices about which qualities and strengths you will put front and center in your MBA essays. If you attempt to feature all of your strengths, you run the risk that admissions officers will finish your essays with no clear idea of any of them. Instead, select three or four of the qualities that your research tells you the school you are applying to prizes most of all.

Second, study the essay question to determine if it falls into one of the five essay categories discussed earlier in this article.

By categorizing each question, you’ll have a better idea of what the admissions committee will be looking for in your response. You’ll know the criteria for scoring top marks in that essay style, which will guide your application essay design decisions.

Brainstorm Topics/Stories

Third, you are ready to start brainstorming potential topics and stories. Remember that your central objective is to find opportunities to feature the key elements of your application strategy .

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you to choose your best topic or story:

Are you the star of the story or supporting cast?

With very few exceptions, you need to write stories where you play the starring role. Don’t make the mistake some applicants make of writing a thrilling story about their parents’ hardships and triumphs, leaving little room for their own.

Did the experience occur recently?

It is usually best to choose stories that happened within the last three years. If an older story is incredibly compelling, then keep it on your list. However, bear in mind that admissions officers are rarely interested in reading about your high school glory days.

Does the essay feature several Fit Qualities?

Review your topic ideas objectively and ask yourself if they exemplify the school’s Fit Qualities. Because you’ll be limited to telling only a few stories, you’ll want to choose the ones that feature a few different Fit Qualities if at all possible.

Once you have selected your best stories, it is time to create an outline to organize your thoughts before jumping into the writing process. ↑ To the Top

How to Outline Your MBA Essay Stories

The persuasive essay writing style is prevalent in university and work settings, so it may have been some time since you were asked to write a story. For that reason, we want to share a powerful outlining technique called the STAR framework that will help with the “story-telling” essays you may be asked to write in your MBA application.

The STAR framework is designed to help you tell a concise story with a beginning, middle, and end.

The “S” in STAR stands for Situation .

The Situation is the time, place, and context of the story; you can think of it as the setting, but it might also include the broader challenge or conflict you or your organization faced. In essence, this is the set-up of the story.

“T” in the STAR acronym stands for Task . The Task is your role and goal in the story. What were you expected to accomplish by the end of the story? An effective story has built-in conflicts and complications.

The Action of the story is what admissions officers are really interested in because this is their chance to see your strengths and qualities in action. While it won’t be necessary to write down every step you took at the outlining stage, you’ll want to jot down the highlights.

Below is an MBA essay example told using the STAR framework. It outlines a story written by a candidate who served as a donation chair for a fundraising event for a non-profit organization.

Task: Assigning specific jobs to committee members, checking on their progress, helping teammates meet agreed-upon deadlines for obtaining the donations, and offering other assistance

Action: Motivated my team by having them meet Literacy Now children. Assigned tasks and checked in regularly. Successfully mediated team disputes. Visited 20 restaurants and called 12 wineries. Ensured deadlines were met.

Sample MBA Essays: MBA Applicant Beware!

MBA Prep School’s guide is replete with essay writing tips, and we do provide excerpts from sample essays to illustrate the most common MBA essay categories. However, while you will find page-after-page of helpful advice and building blocks for constructing your own original MBA essays and stories, we don’t publish an extensive catalog of MBA essays written by MBA Prep School’s past clients.

The problem with collections of sample MBA application essays is that they can mislead you into thinking that if you can just replicate one of those sample essays, you’ve got your golden ticket into business school. Unfortunately, the opposite can be true. The reason those essays “succeeded” is because they were an integral part of a complete story about an impressive human being whom the admission committee concluded belonged at their business school.

And the scary truth is that reading MBA essay examples might even harm your chance of admission for several reasons:

1. They might stunt your creativity and ability to express yourself. If you are trying to mimic someone else’s essays – the content, the style, or the approach – your story and voice are likely to get lost in the process. Admissions committees want to be impressed – but they want to be impressed by you. 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. It may seem, in comparison, that none of your stories stack up. The good news is that the whole package is what matters, not a single defining moment in a candidate’s life.

The last thing you need is to doubt your abilities or have a crisis of confidence when you’re trying to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). Trust in your own experiences and tell stories about what you – and only you – will bring to the MBA program.

3. Admissions officers can tell when you’ve “sampled” from sample MBA essays. The pesky thing about MBA admissions committees is that they’re filled with brilliant people who know how this game is played and what resources are available. They can spot themes and clichéd stories inspired by sample essay collections. More importantly, they can sense when you’re telling someone else’s story or when the story doesn’t ring true to your MBA application’s other elements. Don’t give an admissions officer reason to doubt your authenticity by risking even the appearance that you “sampled” from MBA sample essays that are swirling around on the Internet.

At MBA Prep School, we work with clients we believe in and help them tell their stories, not someone else’s. Remember that the MBA application process is not a storytelling contest; even if it were, the winners would be chosen based on the authenticity, originality, and integrity of the stories they tell!

Final Thoughts

Critics of MBA essays often wonder if they still have a place in the application process when admissions committees can rely on quantitative data points to choose among applicants. However, your transcripts, test scores, and resume are historical documents that only tell a fraction of the story. Your MBA essays represent a powerful opportunity to communicate your goals, strengths, reasons for applying, and potential contributions to the class.

The process of writing MBA essays provides you with a rare opportunity for self-examination and self-expression. Many applicants value the introspection required of them in the MBA essay-writing process and find they can better articulate their strengths and goals during their subsequent MBA interviews as a result. By putting ample thought and effort into brainstorming and writing your MBA essays, you will almost certainly increase your odds of being accepted to a top MBA program.

Related Articles: Essay Examples

  • Career Goals Essay Example
  • What Will You Contribute? Essay Example
  • Why MBA? and Why Our School? Essay Example
  • Leadership Story Essay Example
  • Professional Experience Essay Example
  • MBA Video Essays
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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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Kristen Walsh

By Kristen Walsh

Writing a graduate school or MBA essay for your application can be a big stumbling block for candidates. But if you’re willing to invest some time, identify your goals, reflect on your experiences and follow a few simple directions (the same philosophy that will help you get ahead at work), you’ll be set to write an essay that will help get your foot in the door of your top schools.

“Essays are a major part of the application, and it's the little details that can make the difference between accepting and not accepting someone,” says Gordon Berridge, associate director of graduate admission at Bentley University. “Are they putting in the effort and the energy?” 

Most schools will want to know why you’ve chosen to apply to their program and what you’re hoping to accomplish with your degree. No matter the question, the essay is a “get to know you” for admission officers. It serves as a written first impression. Who are you, and what do they need to know about you? (Learn more about the graduate application process at Bentley).

Sounds easy, right? But many master’s degree and MBA essays don’t always hit the correct note, according to Berridge. There’s a right way to tell your story.

Berridge, who has read thousands of essays during his career in admissions, shares his advice on tackling writer’s block and creating a standout essay:

1. Give Yourself Time

Start thinking about your essay long before you actually have to write it. Most schools require a few different essays, so research the topics/questions ahead of time and start brainstorming.

Keep two running lists:

  • One about you: Your passions and accomplishments (leader, team player, values).
  • One about the specific school(s) you’re applying to: What are they best known for? What is the culture? What excites you about the school or program?

2. Answer the Question

You may not like the essay question, but you need to answer what’s asked.

“I've had some applicants say, ‘Thank you for this question, but I really feel like this topic is more important instead,’” shares Berridge. “The problem with that is, it’s not what we’re looking for.”  

3. Get Personal

Not knowing what to write is perfectly normal. Berridge says that many prospective students ask him what to write — it’s the most common question he gets.

Keep it simple. Admissions officers want to know who you are .

Use real-life examples of career, educational and personal accomplishments. Don’t worry about the size of the accomplishment; share something that will provide a glimpse into your character and values. How did you tackle a tough situation and what made you successful? Put it in your own words, using specific stories and examples. Follow the common suggestion: Show, don’t tell.

For some inspiration, check out the personal story of Neil Chelo ’93, MSF ’00, who helped bring down Bernie Madoff.

“The best essay is one where I can really get a sense of who you are,” says Berridge. “Talk about why you’re excited to come here — and get me excited too.”  

4. Share Your Achievements

In some cultures it’s considered poor etiquette to boast about yourself. But in these essays, you have to. You can’t be humble.

Don’t overdo it so that you sound like you’re bragging. Talk about the amazing things you’ve done and learned, and tell the university why they should accept you.

5. Know What You Want to Achieve

Where do you want to be in a month? In five years? This could include a combination of career goals and personal objectives. Do you plan on being a working mother running a business from home? Do you aspire to do international work? Are you going for a senior executive position?

“The best essay is one where I can really get a sense of who you are,” says Berridge. “Talk about why you’re excited to come here — and get me excited too.”

This is a great time for self-reflection. Then share it in your MBA essay.

6. Make it a Two-Way Street

How will this school help you achieve your goals, and what will you contribute to the program? Think of it as a job application where you need to demonstrate how your skills will help a company achieve their goals.

Find out how Bentley helped Lindsay Starner MBA '13 attain her goals and become vice president and director of analytics for Hill-Holliday.

mba essay formatting

7. Add the Extras

Many universities, like Bentley, let you submit an additional optional essay around the idea of “tell us anything else you think we should know.” But, according to Berridge, only about 80 percent of applicants complete that essay. This is another opportunity to tell the admissions department something important about you. Why should they accept you? What do they really need to know? What will help you stand apart from the crowd?

Some of those stories are so memorable that they stick with the committee years later. For example, Berridge remembers a student who wrote about how her grandfather worked hard every day as a bricklayer to provide for his family. When she was selling Girl Scout cookies, he went with her every single step of the way — even after he had worked all night. He guided her and made sure that she had a good work ethic. She talked about how that ethic has always influenced her decisions. 

8. Follow the Required Word Count

If the word count is 500, don’t submit a 2,000-word MBA essay. Question if you really need that much room. It throws a negative light on your written communication skills and ability to follow directions.

On the flip side, if you can answer the question in four sentences, you may need to put a little bit more thought into it. If it’s too short, the admissions committee may not take you seriously.

9. Find Another Set of Eyes

Have somebody (preferably a few people) review your essay and provide honest feedback. Do they feel you answered the question? Do your personality and talents shine through?

mba essay formatting

10. Check Spelling and Grammar

“The biggest mistake I see people make is the little details,” says Berridge.

Things like making sure the spelling of the admissions officer’s name is correct. (If you’re not sure, he suggests addressing the essay to “Dear Admissions Committee or Dear Sir/Madam.”) Do a spell check and have someone proofread your essay.

11. Get the Name of the School Right

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re applying to multiple schools, be sure to change the name of the college on each essay. If you can’t even take the time to do that, what does it say about your attention to detail? Berridge sees this happen occasionally and it’s a big red flag for the admissions office.

12. Use Simple Formatting

The font should be professional, as opposed to artsy: Times New Roman, Courier New, Helvetica, Arial. (Your portfolio is a platform that allows for more creative formatting, if necessary.)

mba essay formatting

Yes, the essay is a very important part of your application, but it’s not the only part. Your transcript, interview, recommendation, etc. all impact the committee’s decision. If you’re not a great writer or your English isn’t perfect, you can still get into a graduate or MBA program. 

While Berridge understands that talking about yourself can be unnerving, he says that writing a solid MBA essay circles back to investing time and effort.

“It's a lot of work, but so is grad school,” he says. “And if you're not willing to put that work into your application, what does that tell me about the type of work you're going to put in if you’re accepted? 

“Just tell me what makes you special, what makes you passionate about our program. When I can feel who you are, your essay will stand out.”


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MBA Essay 101: Write, Edit, and Impress Your Way into Your Dream Business School

Emma W.

Table of contents

Getting an MBA is a significant step towards a rewarding career. But before you get there, you must navigate the challenging task of writing a compelling MBA essay. This critical piece is more than a mere application requirement - it's your chance to shine, to show the admissions committee who you truly are and what you bring to the table.

Mind-blowing facts!

  • GMAC reported a significant increase in applications to MBA programs globally in 2020, with 67% of programs stating that they had seen a rise in applications.
  • According to the Financial Times 2021 Global MBA ranking, alumni of MBA programs saw an average salary increase of 100% three years after graduation compared to their pre-MBA salary.
  • According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' 2021 Job Outlook report, writing skills were among the top attributes employers seek on a candidate's resume.
  • A study by Grammarly found that professionals who made fewer grammar errors in their LinkedIn profiles achieved higher positions and switched jobs less frequently.

In this blog post, we'll guide you on how to write and format an MBA essay that gets noticed. We'll focus on uncovering your unique story, crafting a compelling narrative, and fine-tuning your essay to stand out from the crowd. So, let's dive in and start your journey to creating an unforgettable MBA essay.

Grasping the Essence of Your MBA Essay Prompt: The Foundation of a Stellar Response

Before we delve into the actual writing process, let's take a moment to understand the real task at hand. Each MBA essay prompt is a carefully crafted question designed to reveal specific aspects about you. Knowing this, your mission is to align your response perfectly with what the prompt asks. It's not about creating a one-size-fits-all answer but tailoring your essay to meet the unique demands of each question.

For instance, if the prompt asks you to describe a significant leadership experience, you're being invited to showcase your leadership skills, team collaboration, problem-solving abilities, and more. Look beyond the obvious and find the deeper meaning within the question.

Keep in mind that MBA admission teams read thousands of essays. They can tell when a candidate has taken time to understand the prompt and when someone is just trying to fit a generic response. Always tailor your answer to the question. Remember, it's not just about what you write, but how you relate it to the question asked.

NOTE : Understanding the task is the first step to writing a compelling MBA essay. Fail to understand, and you risk misaligning your response and missing the mark.

The Art of Introspection: Finding Your Unique Story

Writing a compelling MBA essay demands introspection, a journey within to find that unique story that will pique the interest of the admissions committee. This is your chance to move beyond the scores and grades and present yourself as a living, aspiring individual with a distinct narrative.

The first step in this process is to identify your values, aspirations, strengths, and even weaknesses. Reflect on your experiences, both professional and personal. Ask yourself what challenges you've faced, how you overcame them, and how these experiences shaped your career goals.

Once you have a clearer understanding of your personal narrative, it's time to tie this to your aspirations for your MBA and beyond. Consider why you want an MBA and why now. Reflect on what you hope to achieve professionally and personally, and how an MBA will help you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Remember , authenticity is crucial here. The admissions committee reads thousands of essays, and a genuine, well-told story will always stand out. Try to be specific, focus on a few key stories or experiences, and really delve into the details. This is much more effective than trying to cover too much ground with generalities.

As you go through this introspection, keep in mind that this is not just a task for your MBA essay, but a meaningful exercise in self-understanding that can benefit you throughout your life and career.

Key Aspects to Craft an MBA Essay that Resonates

  • Start Strong
  • Be Clear and Concise
  • Show, Don't Tell
  • Highlight Your Unique Attributes
  • Keep it Authentic
  • Connect it to the School

Having conducted your introspection and identified your unique story, the next step is to weave these insights into a compelling narrative. This is where you connect the dots, aligning your past experiences, your present motivations, and your future aspirations into a clear and compelling story. Here are some key aspects to consider:

1. Start Strong : Capture the attention of the admissions committee right from the start. Your first paragraph should serve as a hook, engaging the reader and making them want to continue reading.

2. Be Clear and Concise : While your story might be complex, your telling of it shouldn’t be. Avoid jargon, write in plain English, and keep your sentences concise. Remember, clarity and precision often make for stronger impressions than flowery language.

3. Show, Don't Tell : Whenever possible, illustrate your points with stories and examples. Don't just say you're a great leader; show it through a story that demonstrates your leadership skills.

4. Highlight Your Unique Attributes : What sets you apart from other candidates? Is it a unique skill, an unusual experience, a particular passion? Make sure your unique attributes come through in your essay.

5. Keep it Authentic : Be honest, be humble, and be yourself. The goal isn't to present an image of who you think the admissions committee wants, but to present the real you.

6. Connect it to the School : Show that you've done your homework about the school and program. How will this specific MBA program help you achieve your goals? Be specific.

REMEMBER : writing a compelling essay takes time. Be ready to write multiple drafts until you've created an essay that truly represents you and makes a strong case for your admission.

How to Sidestep Common Errors in MBA Essay Writing

Creating an impactful MBA essay is as much about avoiding missteps as it is about executing positive strategies. Here are some common pitfalls you should look out for and avoid:

1. Rehashing Your Resume : The admissions committee already has your resume. Don't waste precious essay space repeating information they already know. Instead, delve deeper and share the stories behind your achievements and experiences.

2. Ignoring the Question : Stay focused on the essay prompt. Straying off-topic will make it seem like you can't follow instructions or don't have a clear narrative.

3. Using Cliches and Jargon : Expressions like "think outside the box" or "synergize" are overused and often vague. Instead, use specific, clear language to express your ideas.

4. Neglecting to Proofread : Typos, grammar mistakes, and sloppy formatting can suggest a lack of attention to detail. Always proofread your essay multiple times, and consider having a friend or mentor review it as well.

5. Making Unsupported Claims : If you claim you're a great leader, provide an example of a leadership challenge you faced and how you handled it. Concrete examples always trump unsupported claims.

6. Neglecting the 'Why This School' Element : Admissions committees want to know why you chose their school. Research the program and be specific about how it aligns with your career goals.

7. Forgetting to Reflect Your Personality : Your essay should give the admissions committee a sense of who you are. Let your personality shine through.

In conclusion, by being mindful of these common mistakes and actively avoiding them, you can enhance the quality and impact of your MBA essay. This will help ensure your application stands out for the right reasons.

The Role of Editing and Proofreading in Your MBA Essay

Writing your MBA essay is just the first part of the process. The editing and proofreading phase is where good essays become great. Here's why this step is so crucial:

1. Clarity and Coherence : Editing helps ensure that your essay presents a clear, coherent narrative. It's a chance to check that you've fully answered the prompt, that your paragraphs flow logically from one to the next, and that your overall argument makes sense.

2. Elimination of Errors : Proofreading catches spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors that could distract from your content. Even small mistakes can give an impression of carelessness.

3. Consistency : This is where you check that your use of tense, language, and formatting is consistent throughout the essay. Consistency contributes to the overall readability and professionalism of your piece.

4. Tone and Style : The editing process is also a chance to refine your essay's tone and style, ensuring it sounds like you and reflects your personality.

Don't rush this step. Set your essay aside for a day or two and then come back to it with fresh eyes. And remember, seeking outside perspectives from mentors, friends, or professional editing services like Writers Per Hour can provide valuable insights to further polish your essay.

Wrapping Up and Next Steps

Mastering the art of MBA essay writing is a journey. It requires introspection, understanding the task, crafting your story, and avoiding common missteps. Remember, your MBA essay is a platform to showcase your uniqueness and potential to the admissions committee.

Finally, never underestimate the value of a well-edited and proofread essay. However, if you find this process daunting or simply don't have the time, professional help is just a click away. At Writers Per Hour, we have a team of experts ready to help craft your MBA essay . Take the first step towards your dream MBA program - reach out to us today!

Additional Resources

To support your MBA research journey further, we have collated a list of helpful resources for you.

Articles from the Writers Per Hour Blog:

  • Tips on How to Write a Personal Statement for MBA
  • MBA Research Landscape: Topics, Tips, and Success Stories

External Resources:

1. Harvard Business Review - HBR offers a wealth of articles and case studies on the latest business trends and management practices, which can provide useful insights for your research.

2. McKinsey Insights - McKinsey publishes regular reports on various industries and business functions, offering data-driven insights that can inform your research.

Last edit at Jul 22 2023

Emma W.

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Mba essay samples by school.

Click on a school logo to see samples of real essays that helped ARINGO clients get accepted to that school.

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Sample MBA Essay for Wharton

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MBA essays can be hard to write, but they are one of the most important parts of the MBA application process . If you need help getting started, you may want to view a few sample MBA essays for inspiration. The sample MBA essay shown below has been reprinted (with permission) from . EssayEdge did not write or edit this sample MBA essay. It is a good example of how an MBA essay should be formatted.

Wharton Essay Prompt

Prompt: Describe how your experiences, both professional and personal, have led to your decision to pursue an MBA at the Wharton school this year. How does this decision relate to your career goals for the future? Throughout my life, I have observed two distinct career paths, my father's and my uncle's. My father completed his engineering degree and secured a government job in India, which he continues to hold to this day. My uncle's path began similarly; like my father, he earned an engineering degree. My uncle, on the other hand, continued his education by moving to the United States to earn an MBA, then started his own venture and became a successful businessman in Los Angeles. Evaluating their experiences helped me understand what I wanted from my life and create a master plan for my career. While I appreciate the excitement, flexibility, and independence my uncle has in his life, I value my father's proximity to his family and culture. I now realize that a career as an entrepreneur in India could provide me with the best of both worlds. With the objective of learning about business, I completed my bachelor's degree in Commerce and joined KPMG in the Audit & Business Advisory Department. I believed that a career with an accounting firm would serve me in two ways: first, by enhancing my knowledge of accounting -- the language of business -- and second, by providing me with an excellent introduction to the business world. My decision seemed to be a sound one; in my first two years at KPMG, I worked on a wide variety of assignments that not only strengthened my analytical and problem-solving skills, but also taught me how large businesses managed their sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution functions. After enjoying this productive and educational experience for two years, I decided I wanted greater opportunities than what the audit department could offer. Thus, when the Management Assurance Services (MAS) practice was established in India, the challenge of working in a new service line and the opportunity to help improve the risk management mechanisms of businesses influenced me to join it. In the last three years, I have improved risk management capabilities of clients by addressing strategic, enterprise and operational risk issues. I have also assisted the MAS practice in tailoring our international portfolio of services to the Indian marketplace by conducting risk management surveys, interacting with professionals in other developing economies, and conducting interviews with senior client management. Besides becoming skilled at process risk consulting, I have also significantly improved my project management and new service development abilities in the last three years.

During my tenure with the MAS department, I have encountered challenges that have motivated me to seek  a management degree . For example, last year, we conducted a process risk review for a cash-starved Indian auto ancillary that had expanded capacity without assessing sources of competitive advantage. It was clear that the company needed to rethink its business and operational strategy. Since the MAS department lacked the necessary skills to execute the project, we hired consultants to assist us in the assignment. Their approach of reviewing both the strategic and operational aspects of the business was an eye-opener for me. The pair of consultants used their knowledge of international business and macroeconomics to evaluate key industry trends and identify new markets for the company. In addition, they employed their understanding of supply chain management to benchmark key capabilities with competition and identify opportunities for improvement. As I witnessed the progress made by these two consultants, I realized that in order to achieve my long-term professional goals, I needed to return to school to expand my understanding of the fundamentals of corporate and industry analysis. I also believe that management education can help me develop other vital skills essential to my standing as a professional. For example, I will benefit from the opportunity to further polish my public speaking ability and hone my skills as a negotiator. Also, I have had limited experience working outside India, and I feel that an international education will equip me with the skills necessary to deal with foreign suppliers and customers. After graduating from Wharton, I will seek a position in a strategy consulting firm in its business building/growth practice. In addition to providing me with an opportunity to apply what I have learned, a position in the growth practice will expose me to the practical issues of new business creation. Three to five years after earning an MBA, I would expect to establish my own business venture. In the short-term, however, I may explore exciting business ideas and examine ways to build a  sustainable business  with the help of the Wharton Venture Initiation Program. The ideal education for me includes the Wharton Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management majors coupled with unique experiences like the Wharton Business Plan Competition and the Wharton Technology Entrepreneurship Internship. Perhaps even more importantly, I look to benefit from the Wharton environment -- an environment of boundless innovation. Wharton will give me the opportunity to apply the theory, models and techniques I learn in the classroom to the real world. I intend to join the 'entrepreneurs club' and consulting club, which will not only help me form lifelong friendships with fellow students but also give me exposure to  top consulting firms  and successful entrepreneurs. I would be proud to be a part of the Women in Business club and contribute to the 125 years of women at Penn. After five years of business experience, I believe that I am ready to take the next step toward my dream of being an entrepreneur. I also am confident that I am ready to participate actively as a member of the incoming Wharton class. At this point I am looking to gain the requisite skills and relationships to grow as a professional; I know that Wharton is the right place for me to accomplish this objective.

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2 MBA Admissions Essays That Worked

These outstanding MBA personal statements resulted in admissions offers.

2 MBA Essays That Worked

mba essay formatting

MBA admissions officials say they prefer personal statements that convey personality and demonstrate grit. (Getty Images)

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 – 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.

Searching for a business school? Get our complete rankings of Best Business Schools .

Tags: graduate schools , business school , MBAs , students

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20 Great MBA Application Essay Samples (With Links)

MBA application essay samples - featured image

To improve your chances of getting accepted into your desired business school, writing a convincing MBA application essay is crucial.

The MBA admission process is very competitive, with only a 10% acceptance rate at Harvard Business School and 6% at Stanford.

Besides GPA, GMAT score, and academic record, an outstanding and realistic application essay is a key ingredient of the business school admission process. Many admission committees base their decisions heavily on these essays.

To help you succeed, we have compiled a list of great MBA application essay samples along with an explanations.

Admission committees of top-rated business schools have shared these samples. Let’s get started!

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 Looks for in an MBA Essay?

The admission committee looks for strong evidence of the following factors in your MBA application 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.

What Should be Included in the MBA Application Essay?

Key ingredients to include in your essay are:

  • 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?

Here are a few tips that will make your essay stand out:

  • Be school-specific. Explain why you are passionate about the MBA program of the school to which you’re applying.
  • Avoid over 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.

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 much 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.

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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Homepage > MBA Admissions > Business Schools > Stanford MBA Essay | Analysis and tips for 2023 intake

Stanford MBA Essay | Analysis and tips for 2023 intake

Posted by Suheb Hussain | Jan 24, 2023 | Business Schools , Know the GMAT , MBA Admissions , MBA Application Process

Stanford MBA Essay | Analysis and tips for 2023 intake

Like previous years, the   Stanford Graduate School of Business asks MBA applicants to submit the same two required essay questions. For 2023 admissions, it has reduced the word limit from 1,150 words to 1,050 words, with the recommendation of using 650 words for Essay A and 400 for Essay B.

Stanford MBA essay tips and analysis

In this article, Poonam Tandon from myEssayReview, who has been helping students with their MBA applications since 2011, shares her tips on the Stanford MBA essay for the 2023 intake.

Before we proceed to discuss the details of specific essay questions, you must be thorough with the official guidelines for the Stanford MBA essays:

Stanford MBA Essays standard guidelines

Stanford MBA essay guidelines

  • Length of the essays : Try not to exceed the word limit of 1,050 words for both essays combined. The recommended word limit for essay A is 650 words, and for essay B is 400 words.
  • Format of the essays: Stanford has strict guidelines for the format of the essays. Your essays must be double-spaced, and all the pages of the document must be numbered.
  • Uploading the essays: Both essays must be uploaded in a single document.

Let’s take a look at Poonam’s analysis of the Stanford GSB MBA essay topics for the 2023 intake.

Stanford MBA Essay A

Topic – what matters the 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?

Stanford MBA Essay A

This is one of the most challenging essays asked by the business schools, and Stanford has asked applicants this essay question for a long time now. This essay requires you to introspect and reflect on your experiences and lessons learned along the journey.

The answer to this question will reveal the undisclosed profound side of the applicant that cannot be found anywhere in the application. This essay is an opportunity to demonstrate who you are, what motivates you, and why.

We would like you to do some deep self-reflection, so you can genuinely illustrate who you are and how you became the person you are. Instead of focusing merely on what you have done or accomplished, share insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspective. Write from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you. Focus on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what.’

We are who we are because of the experiences and events that we have gone through in our life.

To brainstorm ideas for this essay, you will need to look back and reflect on your past experiences – growing up years, schooling, college, professional life, volunteer activities, general interests, etc., and look for some common thread that runs through some or all of them.

Since there is no direct answer to this essay, do not try to write a response right away. Prewriting your experiences to identify a unifying theme would be of great help.

Try to focus on life experiences that have shaped your values and priorities all these years. Don’t shy away from sharing the challenging experiences– often tough experiences make us stronger and instill a zeal in us to fight. Whatever stories you choose, focus on their impact on your life and your values.

As you recount your experiences, make sure to share your thought process- how you felt, thought, and reacted at that time and what lessons you eventually learned.

I suggest providing a chronological account of events that have influenced your thoughts, values, and beliefs and have shaped you into a person you are now with your firm belief system and priorities.

Please remember this essay is not directly about your accomplishments; it is about your values and perspectives that you have developed over the years. So, your focus has to be on the events, people, and anecdotes that made you the unique person you are today.

Also, elucidate here how you have translated your values into actions. This way, your accomplishments will naturally stem from your values and priorities.

Stanford MBA Essay B

Topic – 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.

Stanford MBA Essay B

The second essay concentrates on the candidates’ career goals and reasons for pursuing a management degree at Stanford. After you have explained in the first essay what matters most to you in life, you need to tell why your next step is a Stanford MBA.

Explain why you are interested in pursuing an MBA, and why you specifically want to attend Stanford GSB. You need to have clarity regarding your goals and the additional training you require, which a Stanford MBA can provide.

Thorough research of the school’s resources and curriculum will help you determine how the Stanford MBA program aligns with your aspirations. Instead of mapping out a specific career path in this essay, applicants should focus on defining the broad impact they aim to make on a service, a sector, or society.

While Essay A is your opportunity to explain what matters most to you, Essay B allows you to show how you would use your time at Stanford to further your career and what matters most to you.

In a way, Essay B picks up from where Essay A ends .

Be as specific as possible in your response to provide evidence that you have done your research. You should know everything about the aspects of the program that interest you the most.

Talk about specific classes, programs, collaboration with other parts of the school, clubs, conferences, or other offerings that distinguish Stanford from other top business schools.

Are there any particular courses that appeal to you most? Have you met current students and alumni? Have you attended any admission events that offered you additional insights about the programs and confirmed your decision to apply to Stanford? Are there any professors whose classes you are most excited about?

Stanford likes to see applicants who have big dreams and have the potential to realize those dreams. Be bold with your aspirations, but at the same time, be realistic in showing that you have the ability to fulfill your dreams.

Aspire to get into Stanford MBA program? A 740+ GMAT score can improve your chances of an admit. Kickstart your GMAT preparation by Singing up for our free Trial! For any queries, write to us at [email protected]. We are the most reviewed GMAT prep company on GmatClub with more than 2500 reviews.

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 academic or work performance
  • Academic experience (e.g., independent research) not noted elsewhere

As directed in the essay prompt, you may use this essay question to address a weakness in your profile, such as employment gap, low GPA/low GMAT, completion of supplemental work, or unusual choice of the recommender, academic experience not noted elsewhere. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality

Do you want to know about the typical candidate profile at Stanford? Read this article to learn about the class profile, employment reports, and notable alumni from Wharton.

Common myths about Stanford MBA admissions

Finally, please  go through the  video by Kristen Moss , Assistant Dean of admissions at Stanford wherein she talks about common myths that some students have about admission to Stanford and what is most important in the application process.

Free Resources:

  • 10 Key Essay Tips with Examples
  •  Interviews of  Successful MER Students
  • E-book of 30 Essays that Worked
  • Case Studies

Since 2011, MER ( myEssayReview ) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs, including Stanford. (Poonam is one of the  top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club .)

Do you have questions about your application for the 2022-23 admission cycle? E-mail Poonam at  poon[email protected]  or sign up  here  for a free consultation.

About the author

Poonam Tandon - My Essay Review

Poonam, one of the  top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club , is a master storyteller with more than three decades of experience in successfully helping students craft compelling stories for undergraduate and graduate school programs.

A Ph.D. in English, with three decades of teaching experience in India and the US, Poonam launched myEssayReview (MER) in 2011 to provide highly personalized and dedicated consulting services to Business School applicants. Since then, she has helped hundreds of students around the world get into top MBA, EMBA, part-time MBA, and specialized graduate programs. A full-time consultant, Poonam is passionate about her work and is highly committed to each of her students’ success.

Here a few more articles you may find helpful:

  • 5 Different Types of MBA Essays Explained
  • Common MBA Application Mistakes to Avoid
  • How to improve your MBA profile and boost your application
  • MBA Application Process – Weightage of Different Components
  • 2019-2020 MBA Application Deadlines

About The Author

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Suheb Hussain

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Professional Help with Writing MBA Essays

It goes without saying that essay is a crucial part of application for MBA school. While the majority of people might think that MBA essay is a simple listing of one’s achievements and goals, a biography more or less, this is not a way to create an original and successful piece. Some might want to describe their ethical views or the hierarchy of moral values, however this is not what the committees are looking for.

Navigation Menu Through the MBA Essay Help

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  • MBA Essay Format
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Quick mba essay tips to make your life easier.

Essay writing is an academic requirement that many students would rather do without. As it requires organization, mental input and research, the amount of time that you will spend in writing any type of essay can be more than what you have. To help you have an easier time in writing an MBA essay, use an essay outline so that you may easily organize your thoughts. Moreover, you must learn the rudiments of writing before you engage in to this activity. For a real stress-free way of coming up with any essay, contact P rof E and learn why we have many satisfied customers worldwide.

Your MBA Essay as a Sample of a Perfect Writing

There exists a simple plan of the MBA essay, and the specialists claim that sticking to it guarantees coherent and logical linking of the ideas of the essay. First of all, it’s necessary to denominate the goals you want to achieve or the plans you have for the future. Secondly, it’s rather desirable to answer the following question: Why an MBA? In other words, everyone who applies for it, must know the reasons and state them clearly. There’s no such thing as “My friend applies so I decided to follow him” or “because I want so”. The detailed answer is welcomed. It’s logical to continue the essay with the description of what you expect from MBA and how you would like to apply the knowledge. You can remind about your goals and thus show how the acquired information will fit them.

The third part of the  MBA essay must be an answer to the question “Why did you choose this school?” The main rule is to answer honestly and clearly the questions required in certain school since the demands differ depending on the school, country, conditions etc. Watch the language! Although the content remains the most important issue, proofread your research paper before submitting it. Consult the web-site of the school of the secretary of committee to get to know the requirements, especially the length or word count. Don’t tell standard stories or boring details, try to be original and positive!

It is not uncommon for many post grad students to seek formatting and writing styles from published MBA essay sample. Writing an MBA essay is a common activity for students who seek MBA credits. Because of this, students run out of term paper ideas and essay topics to write about. Hence, one can find convenience in consulting essay samples. Many samples are available at P rof E . Whatever discipline you are writing a paper for or whatever topic needs to be discussed – there is always a possibility that you will find an essay that has the same theme with yours. For all your custom essay writing needs, ask our academic writers at P rof E .

P rof E is a professional custom essay writing service provider. We have over 500 experienced academic writers and thausands of sutisfied customers in US , UK , Canada and Australia . We also guarantee that your essay or research paper will correspond to academic standards and will be written according to your instructions, fully referenced and cited correctly.

We are doing our best to provide our customers with top-quality MBA essays . If you still hesitate whether to choose our custom essay writing service or not, you can look through the feedback comments sent by our customers or contact our friendly customers’ service. Learn more about narrative essay writing help offered by P rof E So what one must write in the MBA essay to make himself a way into the chosen school?

When you apply for a business school you are not necessarily expected to describe your achievements in career or the reasons which make you take up this course. Sometimes a candidate can face such extraordinary questions as:

  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you enjoy most outside the work?
  • What interests/hobbies do you have outside your job?
  • Describe your working day etc.

The schools do not search for well-educated people who possess recognition from the universities. This doesn’t mean that your diploma doesn’t mean a thing, but it’s only an addition to you. Your essay must show that you’re an industrious person who is not afraid to take on responsibilities and work hard for achievement of certain goal. As easy as it seems, it’s rather hard to persuade the committee that you possess all these qualities without naming them. That’s what this type of term paper serves for: the content must reveal the idea that you’re the person with a strong character and leader, able to motivate employees and generate ideas.

MBA Essay Format: a eneric Format for a Not so Generic Paper

In whatever type of essay that you need to write, the essay format remains the same. The basic format of an essay includes: introduction, body and conclusion. Despite the familiarity on the sequence of the parts of an essay format, what one must remember that writing an MBA essay can be slightly difficult than your usual college essay. The MBA essay format may seem generic but what separates this from other essay types is the contents incorporated in it. For professional custom essay writing assistance, contact P rof E and we are here to assist you in the best way that we can.

MBA Essay Structure is The Key to an Organized Essay

While an essay format is mostly concerned on the three major parts of the essay – the concern of an MBA essay structure is to encompassing. The format of an MBA paper is just one of the varied components of an essay that we need to be concerned about. Other elements that essay structure is concerned about are: the language use, the essay writing style, and the presentation. Do you have further questions on how to ensure that your essay is at par with the best, when essay structure is concerned? Contact P rof E and we will write an excellent MBA essay for you.

The Convenience that Custom MBA Research Paper Brings

Are you pressured with writing another academic paper to get that MBA degree that you have been working hard for? It is only natural for humans to get tired – physically and mentally. The latter, brings more pressure when academics are concerned because this can only mean that we are running out of useful ideas to use in the daily routine in the academe. This is definitely not the scenario that you would wish for if you are required to pass an MBA research paper . Need custom research paper, custom essay or even dissertations – worry not because P rof E is here to assist you.

How to Write an Effective MBA Scholarship Essay

Many students only become essay writers if there is a need for it. The requirements set by the academe are the reasons why a student finds himself in a library and drafting an essay. Students who have an aim towards continuous education and are attempting to get into universities to gain an MBA credits are, most often than not, required to compose a MBA scholarship essay . Writing this type of essay must be done seriously because it is not only equivalent to a passing mark, but it can be very well synonymous to your education and future. For all your custom essay writing needs, consult P rof E and we will develop a paper specifically for you.

The Taxing Task of Writing an MBA Thesis

One of the major requirements that you need to comply with prior to gaining credits on your MBA education is the submission of an MBA thesis . Thesis is probably one of the more dreaded types of academic paper in any university because the research involved here is more than your usual essay or term paper. Data gathering is taken seriously and hence, takes more time from the students. As writing a thesis remains an inevitable task, avoiding it can only be futile. What P rof E can do is to assist you by providing you with more than the basics of custom thesis writing. Call us now and learn how can we help you .

Practice Writing for your GMAT Essay

Individuals who are planning to attend graduate business schools are required to comply with the examination provided, conceptualized and monitored by GMAT or the Graduate Management admission test. Aside from assessing your business and math skills, the GMAT has also incorporated questions or tests that will measure your knowledge on the use of the English language. When writing a GMAT essay for the exam, you must be well prepared. Since this is an exam and there is no certainty on the type of question that you will encounter, the best way to prepare is through practice essay writing. Contact P rof E now and see how can things get easier with our custom essay writing services.

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Looking for an exceptional company to do some custom writing for you? Look no further than! You simply place an order with the writing instructions you have been given, and before you know it, your essay or term paper, completely finished and unique, will be completed and sent back to you. At, we have over 500 highly educated, professional writers standing by waiting to help you with any writing needs you may have! We understand students have plenty on their plates, which is why we love to help them out. Let us do the work for you, so you have time to do what you want to do!

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MBA Essay Format | How to Write An MBA Essay in The Best Format


MBA essays are also known as MBA Application essays. Sometimes colleges need a little more than your scores in exams and academic background. In order to select the best candidates for their university. It is also a chance for students to showcase their potential which they could not cover in their resume.

Where to MBA Essay are Needed?

Table of Contents

During the time of admissions. Best colleges receive tons of applicants. Which arise a problem for the organization because it sort of creates pressure on the organization to select the best students out of their applications. That’s where they decide to test a little more about the students. MBA essays pretty much disclose your personality and how you are as a person. Which makes it easier for the organization to select capable students.

Basic Tips for an MBA Essay

Before actually getting into discussing the MBA essay format. There are some things other than the perfect “MBA Essay format” that is needed to be taken care of. Let’s have a look at these basic tips listed below that one must keep in mind while writing the MBA essay.

  • Select a font that looks professional. Fancy fonts should be avoided. 
  • Always remember to set some margin on the top and bottom. So that the paper looks more presentable to the reader.
  • Avoid grammatical errors and any sort of mistake.
  • Utilize a five-paragraph format.
  • Structure the essay. Outline the essay in advance, so you constantly have the motive to write. 
  • The average word limit is between 750 to 1000 words. Unless it is already mentioned by the client.
  • Use active voice and verbs. A strong MBA essay should avoid passive voice.
  • Best ever example of MBA essay
  • Hidden MBA Essay Tips
  • Why an MBA Essay is Important

MBA Essay Format

The MBA Essay format has three parts. The first part is for the introduction. The introduction should be done in one paragraph. Starting should be catchy, something that keeps the reader stuck to it. It would be great if this paragraph does contain a thesis. And a thesis must be chosen very carefully. Because the whole theme of the essay depends on it. You can also give a hint of your previous academic experience.

The second part is for the main body of the essay. This should be three paragraphs long. This should have facts, details, and evidence supporting the theme. You can also tell stories in this part. But don’t just start rambling. Whatever you write must be authentic and accurate. Also, remember to tell a story that keeps your reader hooked to it. 

  • You can use the “S.T.A.R” approach to describe your story. Where S stands for “situation”. Here you will set the foundation of the story. Conflict and problems will be discussed here. Like “the company’s market was going down”.
  • T stands for “task”. Recognize the solution to the problem that was needed at the time. And the task that has to be done to solve the problem. For instance, ” a new plan and strategy were developed by me”.
  • A stands for “action”. Explain what and how the steps were taken to solve the situation. And tell your part in it.
  • And the last R stands for “Result”. Conclude the whole story with the final results. Speak about the difference you and the organization made together. For example, ” the whole plan went as expected and the profit margin increased by 40%”.

The third part is for the conclusion and is of just one paragraph. This part is, to sum up, the aim of the whole essay. All the main details out of the essays are to be added here. Do not add anything new in this part. 

Models of MBA Essay Format

mba essay formatting

While printing out the paper, make certain to print it on white paper. Do not use color papers. And make sure that your essay is glitter-free, sticker-free, or any sort of fancy thing.

If the college has asked to send it over mail. Double-check all the instructions. And know how it is supposed to be sent if it is instructed to be sent with some particular application component. Do as it is instructed. It will show you more professionalism. 

And before sending, double-check the whole essay. If in case of mistakes or grammatical errors, fix it. If you are still struggling to find it difficult to understand then hire our MBA essay writer for your help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How to start an mba essay.

The start of the essay is very important, so it should be interesting. Every word should get a reader on a hook. You can talk about your background, direction, goals, and more. Try to show that you are passionate. Talk about past experiences and achievements.

What is an MBA essay format for application?

The MBA Essay format consists of three parts; introductory, main body, and conclusion. And it is five paragraphs long. Where each of the paragraphs is preferably 5 to 6 lines long. INTRODUCTORY- one paragraph MAIN BODY- three paragraph CONCLUSION- one paragraph

How to write an MBA essay?

Just keep few things in mind while writing the essay. That is, to not make mistakes and grammatical errors. And language should be professional. Use active voice. And always make sure you check the format. The correct format can help a lot in designing the perfect essay. This is very well answered in the blog above. Check it out for detailed information.

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How to Write an MBA Essay?

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  • Apr 14, 2023

MBA Essay

A Master of Business Administration or MBA is one of the most sought after degrees globally. MBA applicants go through a rigorous selection and interview process before getting admission to the program. So what increases the chances of a candidate being selected for admission? Of course, good grades and a high score in exams like GRE or GMAT is obviously essential, but the other crucial factor that works in your selection is your MBA essay. Since this essay has the power to either uplift or hinders your application, it is extremely important to write a good essay as part of your application. Not sure about what makes a good MBA essay? This blog on how to write an MBA essay can help you in getting an idea about it. Take a look!

This Blog Includes:

  • What is an MBA Essay?

MBA Essay Word Count

Mba essay format, be introspective when planning your mba essay, create a structure , be mindful of the length, set a time limit, ask a colleague/friend for a review, make use of the optional essays, demonstrate your character and personality, mba practice essay topics, mba essay sample, top schools for mba, what is an mba essay .

The MBA essay is a kind of personal statement that you are required to submit along with your MBA application to your chosen MBA school. It is an essential part of the application process of major schools around the world and thus plays a role in getting you selected for admission. So, why is the MBA essay considered to be so important? Firstly, it provides you with a chance to describe yourself and your goals to the admission committee – who you are, how an MBA would help you in reaching your career goals, why you should be selected for the program etc. Secondly, it provides you with an opportunity to put forward your strengths and weaknesses, and also share your experiences, achievements and even failures, while explaining how it contributed to making you who you are. The MBA essay thus enables you to put forward all those points that you couldn’t have included in your resume or personal details section of the application, but which are still very important.

Each university specifies the word count of their required MBA essays. If it is mentioned a thousand words, then adhere to it. In case there isn’t mentioned a required word count, then you have flexibility. It is still suggested that you follow a short, five-paragraph format MBA essay as they are more concise, to-the-point and distinctive in admission process.

Usually the MBA essay formats are divided into three sections and 5 paragraphs. This is the Five-Paragraph format . It is as follows:

  • Introductory Paragraph
  • Three Body Paragraphs
  • Concluding Paragraphs

You can also follow a well-known “S.T.A.R” approach while writing an MBA essay.

  • S stands for Situation
  • T stands for Task
  • A stands for Action
  • R stands for Result

Follow a narration of essay keeping the above format in mind to produce a distinct MBA essay.

Tips to Write an MBA Essay

Writing an MBA essay takes time, since you have to make sure that you are able to convey all the important points successfully. Here are some tips that would help you in coming up with a powerful MBA essay that will ensure your selection in your chosen MBA school:

The questions you need to ask yourself before starting on your MBA essay are: Why an MBA? Why right now? Why ABC school? Having a solid answer to these 3 questions allows you to have a clear idea  about your goals and expectations, which you can then easily incorporate within your essay.

Also Read: Best Answer for Why MBA

Your  MBA essay should have a distinct opening, body and conclusion. Use the 3-part approach to develop a coherent and easy-to-follow format. The body should be about 60% of the total content, with 20% reserved for the opening and 20% for the conclusion. Use the conclusion to support your overall points.

Review the required lengths for each essay and adhere to them. However, just because there is a  word limit mentioned, you don’t need to write that many words mandatorily. Remember that the members of the admission committee have to go through hundreds of essays in an application season, so it is in your best interest to reach your conclusion as concisely as possible.

Many candidates get stuck on the MBA essay questions. Although the MBA essay is important,it is only one component of your overall application profile. For that reason, set yourself a reasonable amount of time to write your essay and try to complete it within that time. While more time may improve an essay, it doesn’t guarantee it.

Also Read: Career Goals for MBA Aspirant in 150 Words

You obviously have more background knowledge about your abilities and goals than anyone. Because of this, there is a chance that you may have used some jargon or written it in a way that may seem incomprehensible to others. By asking someone less familiar with your industry to read your essay, you can be sure that the language you’ve used is clear.

Is there something on your application that deserves further explanation, like a low test score or a lack of coursework in core business courses? Do you have a personal story to tell that may distinguish you from other applicants? With the optional essay, you have the opportunity to provide that information to the admission committee.

MBA essays provide an opportunity to help the admission committee learn more about your background. It’s always useful to share your volunteer work, accomplishments and general interests through your essay.

Here are a few topics that you can practice and polish your essay writing skills.

  • Women’s Reservation Bill.
  • Financial crisis in Europe.
  • The recent financial crisis highlights the perils of Capitalism.
  • No one is wise by birth. Wisdom results from one’s own efforts.
  • Business and ethics don’t go hand in hand these days.
  • Banning politicians with criminal records from contesting elections is against their right.
  • India versus Bharat: a divided nation.

Humans have caused considerable changes in the climate which has led to massive shifts in natural phenomena. Multiple cooperations and global brands have equally contributed to these climatic changes. 

Worse luck, we haven’t been fortunate enough to have leaders who are willing to complete their jobs and try to lessen the intensity of climate change. I feel people can reduce climate change by investing in eco-friendly resources.

My immediate goal is to develop skills and conduct enough research in the field of climate change and global warming. I also want to invest in such eco-friendly resources that can be used as an alternative for traditional resources like plastic, nylon, etc. that cause damage to the earth, I also want to conduct trials and errors to test the sustainability of these products.

Post my MBA, my long-term goal is to have a startup that invests in clean recyclable energy, accessible clean water, and eco-friendly technology. I also want to build myself enough to be able to inspire others to implement the same and offer them resources to assist their goal. 

I certainly believe that an MBA degree can help me become competent, provide a global perspective of people’s behavior, and also help me become an entrepreneur and a leader in my venture. 

The values and concepts taught at XYZ University stick to my vision and goals. I believe this university is a perfect choice for building my future. 

Now that you do have an idea of how you can write your MBA essay, it is also a good idea to make yourself familiar with the popular schools around the world from which you can pursue your MBA degree. Here is a list of the top MBA Schools around the world.

Here is the list of Best MBA Colleges in World !

To start writing an MBA essay, reflect on who you are and start by showing the same in the essay, with clear focus on your goals.

An MBA essay should be in a five-paragraph essay.

Each institution provides a word count for MBA essay. But if it is not mentioned, students should not write a lengthy essay, and be sure to follow the five-paragraph format.

Hope this blog was successful in making you aware of how to write an MBA essay. Following the points mentioned above will surely help you in coming up with a strong essay that will greatly increase your chances of getting selected for the degree. Are you an MBA aspirant? Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu for guidance in identifying the perfect MBA course that aligns with your career goals. Sign up for a free session today!

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Career Goals Essay: Writing, Formatting And Editing Guide

EssayEdge > Blog > Career Goals Essay: Writing, Formatting And Editing Guide

A career goals MBA essay is the tool that can make all student’s dreams come true or rather spoil everything. That’s why applicants are worried about how to write a perfect admission paper. Especially for this purpose, we prepared a detailed guide on writing a winning MBA essay. If you need to learn more about good career goals essay MBA application tips, keep reading to find all necessary information. 

Table of Contents:

What is a Career Goals MBA Essay?

A career goals essay MBA is an admission paper required to communicate the motivation and reasons to apply for graduate business school in terms of your future career. Its main goal is to persuade the admission committee that you understand the value of scholarships and have a clear vision of your career path.

Why Do MBA Essays Require the Description of Your Career Goals?

There are several reasons why the committee asks you to describe your career goal MBA essay in terms of your motivation to apply for the graduate program. Let’s look through the main ones.

1. To find out how the MBA program will be useful for your future career.

Your MBA essay career goals should highlight the importance of a chosen MBA program for the future. The committee members want to see your desire to apply for a scholarship to get a benefit from the gained skills and knowledge post MBA.

2. To ensure that you are motivated to apply for a specific grad program.

The applicant should communicate the passion and strong motivation for MBA admission because it is vital for achieving a career goal. Thus, you need to mention your dream career and emphasize why you want to pursue it. Assure them that it is impossible to make your plan a reality without specific education.

3. To see that you have clear after-MBA plans.

The student should share an effective career action plan to succeed during the MBA application. Whether it is an MBA in finance career goals essay or admission paper for any other field, you need to be specific while describing your career goals.

Main Components of MBA Career Goal Essay

Before writing a career goals essay, you need to divide it into several sections. A clear understanding of each component is helpful for writing an MBA admission essay that works. After analyzing all these points, make a logical connection between them.

You may also use our career and personal goals for MBA essay examples in a long-term perspective . They will be useful in setting up a winning career strategy.

Step by Step Guide to Write Career Goals Essay

Here is a guide on writing a winning MBA career goals essay. Follow these simple steps, and the admission process wouldn’t be so tough as it seemed before.

Step 1. Identify your career ambitions.

First of all, analyze your career intentions and identify the central goal to achieve in the future. You need to make an eye-catching introductory statement to grab the attention of the admission committee.

Step 2. Divide your goals into several stages of your career.

Next, write down all the career goals. To write a successful career goals MBA essay, you should split all the targets into several categories. The main career periods include:

  • Adaptation stage;
  • Stage of a formation;
  • Maturity stage;
  • Late career stage.

Set up goals for each category, and do not forget to mention what will help you achieve them. Finally, make connections between your career plan and the MBA program.

Step 3. Consider the structure of your MBA essay on career goals.

Of course, the content makes the value of your MBA essay. But, additionally, pay attention to the writing style. Whether it is an essay MBA career goal general manager or any other field admission paper, ensure that your essay consists of three main parts: introduction, main body, and conclusion.

The typical format for a sample career goals MBA essay is a five-paragraph structure. Still, everything depends on your experience and career action plan. If you have a rich background and ambitious goals for the future, all these will require additional paragraphs.

Step 4. Make sure that your formatting corresponds to the basic requirements.

One more important step is to format an MBA essay on career goals according to basic academic paper requirements. But we will talk about them a little bit later.

Step 5. Proofread your MBA essay.

Proofreading is the last but not the least recommendation. When you are finished writing the last sentence of your essay, do not rush to submit it. Instead, calm down and take time to read and check what you’ve written. No doubt, possible grammar mistakes, typos, or vague sentences are not the things that can help you stand out from the rest.

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

MBA Essay Formatting Tips

As is mentioned above, formatting does matter. Main points you should consider before sending your career goal essay sample for MBA to the admissions committee include:

  • Use standard fonts and readable font size;
  • One-inch margins can help to make white spaces;
  • Delete all unnecessary spaces between the words or sentences;
  • Ensure that your text is divided into finished paragraphs;
  • Delete extra spaces between paragraphs.

In the MBA career goals essay sample below, you will see how to structure your admission paper according to the basic requirements.

Writing Tips for MBA Career Goals Essay for Specific Fields

Of course, your career goals will depend on the specific field to which the chosen graduate program refers. Thus, we will discuss what features to consider based on the MBA finance career goals essay.

First of all, the finance programs vary depending on the professional experience levels. Thus, it affects the MBA career goals you need to mention. For instance, the most educational programs require at least 1-2 years of experience. So, if you lack experience, your admission will probably be declined.

Secondly, you need to make your goals relevant to the graduate program. Do not be vague in defying your experience or skills. The best example career goal essay for MBA is this one, which clearly defines the appropriate professional intentions.

Thirdly, the specificity of goals for a financial analyst or the MBA essay career goals for entrepreneurship is important for two reasons:

  • It makes the essay credible: when you clearly define your goals, it shows your serious approach and ability to prepare a step-by-step and detailed career path plan.
  • Differentiation: your motivation and experience are unique, and these things make you unique. The only necessary thing is to communicate them effectively.

Hence, specificity makes your MBA essay for finance differ from a career goals MBA essay management consulting or admission paper for any other field.

Career Goals MBA Essay Analysis

Here is one of the MBA essay examples career goals that will work for successful admission. Look through it to define what makes it stand out from the rest.

Career Goals MBA Essay Example

“My long-term dream job is to launch an AI integrated qualitative consumer research platform. To realize it, hard-skill sets in AI data process and analysis, as well as effective communication and management skills to lead an Engineering Team, are required. In the short term, I will have a product management role in the AI/deep learning area at a major tech giant such as Google and Amazon to successfully obtain these necessary skills. 

In the modern world, consumers’ needs and wants are changing more and more quickly. In contrast to phenomenal improvement in the speed of quantitative consumer data analysis, which is enabled by the digitalization of consumer data, there still exists a huge time lag between consumer interviews and delivery of analysis when it comes to qualitative consumer research, a primary method of digging into consumers’ needs.

Through my experience in more than 20 projects at Bellomy, I have developed an in-depth understanding of marketing research methodology focused on discovering consumers’ needs. However, the mentioned long-term goal requires several technical characteristics such as a deep understanding of the process of software product development and hard skills in AI data processing and analysis. With this in mind, in the short term, I will seek a product manager role in the AI/deep learning area at a tech giant such as Google and Amazon where I can most practically obtain these necessary qualities and skill sets.

During my MBA, I will develop skills that are currently lacking in me to be a successful PM, and become a PM in the AI/deep learning field at a tech giant such as Google. Once targeted skills are obtained there, I will challenge to launch an innovative AI-driven qualitative consumer research platform.”

Let’s focus on its main strengths, which make this essay effective .

  • The author clearly defines a central career aim at the beginning of the essay: “My long-term dream job is to launch an AI integrated qualitative consumer research platform.” Also, he continues with his vision of what position is required at the beginning stage to gain necessary experience: “In the short term, I will be a product management role in AI/deep learning area at a major tech giant such as Google and Amazon to successfully obtain these necessary skills.”
  • One more benefit of this essay refers to the argumentation provided in the second paragraph to support his motivation to achieve the ambitious career objective.
  • Then, the applicant highlights that he has relevant skills and experience to reach the goal: “Through my experience in more than 50 projects at Bellomy, I have developed an in-depth understanding of marketing research methodology focused on discovering consumers’ needs.”
  • Furthermore, the author underlines what he needs to achieve a goal: “However, the mentioned long-term goal requires several technical characteristics such as a deep understanding of the process of software product development and hard skills in AI data processing and analysis.”
  • Finally, there is a connection between career goals and the MBA program: “During my MBA, I will develop skills that are currently lacking in me to be a successful PM, and become a PM in AI/deep learning field at a tech giant such as Google.”

All listed factors mentioned in the career goals MBA essay sample are crucial for writing a relevant admission paper that will help apply for the desired scholarship.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, the applicant should follow several requirements to write a perfect MBA essay and get accepted to a dream university:

  • Be precise in defying your goals;
  • Add only relevant information;
  • Make connections between your experience, career goals, and scholarship;
  • Divide the essay into at least five paragraphs;
  • Make an eye-catching introduction;
  • Proofread everything before submitting.

With these recommendations, you can calm down and look forward to exciting responses. Anyway, we keep our fingers crossed for you!

Your MBA essay should be outstanding to be noticed by an admission board. Improving your paper is a complex process consisting of writing, formatting, and editing. Trusting the last stage of writing to our application essay editors service is okay. Let professionals do their job and put your efforts into something you can do better.

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Admissions , Executive MBA , Full-Time MBA , Part-Time MBA

30 August 2023

All About the Application: Crafting a Cohesive Application Narrative

I n advance of our upcoming deadlines for the Part-Time MBA , Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA formats, we’re sharing insights about telling your story through your application materials.

Crafting Your Narrative

Darden’s application process is a narrative exercise:

Rather than thinking about the different pieces of the application as disconnected parts, think about how they both complement and supplement your broader story. Each element contributes to the overall narrative of who you are and who you will be in the Darden classroom and community. Make the most of them!

One of the best things about the application process? Everything matters. One of the most challenging things about the application process? Everything matters.

The various parts of the application will matter differently for different candidates, and our Admissions Committee will be thinking about your full application when evaluating your candidacy. Keep this in mind when assembling your application materials!

Make sure to you give yourself plenty of time to craft your application. While it is possible to complete our application in a day or two of focused work, we consistently find the strongest applications are the product of thoughtful, reflective efforts.

And now on with the tips!

As you craft your narrative, take a step back and think objectively about your background and experience:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What aspects of your candidacy do you want to highlight and accentuate?
  • What are those areas you may want to bolster?

While there are invariably aspects of the application you cannot change (for example, Undergraduate GPA, work history, etc.), are there actions you can take now (i.e. prior to applying) to strengthen your application and ensure you are putting your best foot forward?

Our Admissions Committee considers a broad data set when evaluating your preparation for a rigorous MBA curriculum. This includes standardized test scores (GMAT, GRE, EA, MCAT, LSAT), prior coursework (both degree-related and non-degree-related), advanced degrees, professional certifications and work responsibilities.

There are no “perfect” candidates. One way to think about the application process is that you are building a case for your candidacy, and this case has personal, professional and academic dimensions.

As you begin your application, take a few minutes to think about your story across these various categories.

  • Who are you and who will you be in the Darden community?
  • What have you accomplished professionally and why do you want to pursue an MBA?
  • How will you demonstrate your academic readiness and preparation for a rigorous MBA curriculum?

This is why narrative is so important. The more your unique and authentic narrative comes through the application materials, the more you will stand out from other applicants.

The short answer questions are a great opportunity to craft your story, but don’t forget about the resume. We find the resume is oftentimes an underutilized part of our application. Take a moment to refresh your formatting and think about how the resume aligns with the other parts of your application.

Remember that your story encompasses your full life — not just your academic and professional achievements. Believe it or not, applicants often overlook their personal story when crafting their narrative . Utilize the spaces for you to share hobbies and interests, volunteer and community service activities, information about your family background and more. If you’ve joined our team for one of our recent Admissions Workshops, you likely remember the three-legged IKEA stool we often use to visualize the key dimensions of a strong application — personal, academic and professional .

And last but not least, once you’ve finished your application, take a moment to think about your materials with the big picture in mind. Are there any gaps or ambiguities in the information provided? Consider using the Additional Comments section of your application to provide additional context, if necessary. The Additional Comments section is not an additional essay, just a place to connect the dots.

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MBA Essay Format: Everything you need to know

Last updated by rubayet al sami on july 22, 2022.

In this article, you will know everything about MBA essay format, this article is very important for students who want to do MBA.

As of now, technology has a great role because it helps many students and professionals. One of the common approaches that are becoming popular today is to go online. For MBA students who want to have a guide, they can rely on MBA essay template. If you don’t know how to write an MBA essay, then this post is for you.

Basic MBA Essay Format

Every MBA essay should be formatted according to a few fundamental rules. It’s crucial, for instance, to establish the margins so that there is room around the text. Generally speaking, it’s best to leave an inch of space on all sides, as well as the top and bottom.

It’s crucial to have a font that is simple to read. Of course you don’t want to use a ridiculous typeface like Comic Sans. Although fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia are usually simple to read, some of the letters have superfluous frills and flourishes.

MBA Essay Format

6 Tips on MBA Essay Format

You are lucky because there are MBA essay format online that will help you. If you are in need of a template because you do not know what format you will use, the internet will be your help to find the templates you need online. It will be your guide to start writing and all you need to do is to supply the needed information.

1. Clear idea

It is true that each MBA admission essay has features depending on the writer or students that are why you need to have a clear idea of what essay you want.

You need to consider everything so that you can able to impress your readers the time you will submit your paper. It is important that you should have clear idea on your expectations so that you can able to choose wisely on the template you want.

2. Choose the right template in helping you to create desirable essay

In choosing a template, you should not be carried away with the appearance. What you need to keep in mind is how you will write your  career goals essay MBA . You should choose a template where you can able to give the right information. Do not just choose what you like because it is essential that you choose a template that suits the requirements. Think properly about the essay requirements and choose the perfect template.

3. Choose a customizable template

If you want to quickly create an essay that satisfies all the requirements, you need to choose a customizable template. You will know if it is customizable if the tools has numerous editing tools and gives you the opportunity to design or create the essay you want that meet your needs.

4. Allow you to create excellent essay

The template you choose should give you the chance to create an excellent essay. If there are changes that you want to make, it should allow you to make those changes. It should allow you to have the essay that you are looking for.

5. Select a responsive template

There are instances that you will find a template that does not allow any changes. It is better if the template you choose is responsive. It is better if you can able to choose templates where you can access on phones and not only in PCs.

6. Choose a template with an accurate theme

There are many templates that you can find on the internet and it is better if it has accurate theme that is perfect for your essay.

Make sure to print the paper on white paper when you print it out. Use only white paper. Additionally, make sure your essay is free of glitter, stickers, and other fancy elements. Also, make sure the entire essay is accurate before sending. Fix it if there are typos or grammatical errors. MBA essay format is very important for getting scholarships in business schools.

Adhere to all instructions if you are emailing your essay. If the business school asked that you email it along with other application materials, you should comply. If you are not instructed to, don’t email the essay separately because it might end up in someone’s inbox. Last but not least, use the right file format.

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