News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Essay Topics

A listing of business school application essay topics posted as they are announced by leading MBA programs. Check back frequently during the summer months for updates!

USC/Marshall Essay Topics 2013-2014

The 2013-2014 USC / Marshall essay topics have been announced. They are listed below:

Essay 1. Introduce yourself. How are you a good fit for the Marshall MBA community? The Trojan Network is highly regarded worldwide; how do your professional and personal goals add value to this expansive and collaborative brand? (500-750 words)

Optional Essay: Here you may choose to provide additional information with regard to personal characteristics and/or challenges you have had which might enhance the diversity of your class. (250 words)

For more information, visit the school’s admissions website.

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IESE 2013-2014 Essay Topics Announced

IESE Business School has posted its 2013-2014 essay topics within its online application.  The essay prompts are as follows:

Essay 1. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals (Post MBA). (300 words)

Essay 2. Describe a recent situation (1-2 years ago maximum) that demonstrates your fit with IESE’s mission and values (300 words).

Essay 3. I wish that the application had asked me… (200 words)

For more information about the IESE admissions process, visit the school’s website.

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London Business School Essay Topics 2013-2014

LBS’s admissions office has just released this year’s essay topics on their Admissions Office Blog! The three questions are listed below:

1. What will your future look like after completing your MBA? (500 words)

2. What value will you add to London Business School? (300 words)

3. What is the School’s responsibility to you and what is your responsibility to the School? (400 words)

The LBS deadlines will be updated later this summer, though LBS has written that the first deadline will be sometime in October. The LBS application is set to go live in late August. For more information, visit LBS’s admissions website.

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Cambridge / Judge Essay Topics 2013-2014

The 2013-2014 Cambridge / Judge essay topics have been announced!  The three essays are as follows:

1. What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200 words)

2. What are your short and long term career objectives? What skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you to achieve them? What do you hope to gain from the degree and how do you feel it will help you achieve the career objectives you have? (please do not exceed 500 words)

3. If you could change one thing about your current organisation, what would you make different? How would you overcome obstacles to this change, and what impact would this change have in the short-term and long-term? (300 words) Continue reading…

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UT Austin / McCombs Essay Topics 2013-2014

The UT Austin / McCombs essay topics for 2013-2014 are now available on the school’s admission’s website.  The three required essays and one optional essay are as follows:

1. Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2016. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include any personal and/or professional aspects that you believe to be significant. Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

  • Write an essay (250 words)
  • Share a video introduction (one minute)
  • Share your profile

2. In the Texas MBA program we value our tight-knit and highly collaborative culture. Outside of your professional goals, please discuss why you are a good fit with the Texas MBA program and how you intend to impact the Texas MBA community? (250 words)

3. What do you hope to gain from your Texas MBA experience? How do you expect to develop, both personally and professionally, during the Texas MBA program? (250 words)

Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information to the Admissions Committee that you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (200 words)

For example, if your standardized test scores are not exactly what you would like them to be or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (i.e. calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting, or finance), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum. Discuss any unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or any significant weaknesses in your application or extenuating personal circumstances that you think may impact your candidacy.

McCombs announced its 2013-2014 admissions deadlines in July.  For more information, visit the school’s admissions website.

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Duke / Fuqua Essay Topics 2013-2014

The essay topics for the 2013-2014 admissions season at Fuqua have been released!  They are available within the Fuqua application and are posted below:

Required Short Answer Questions: Answer all 3 questions. Respond in 250 characters only (the equivalent of about 50 words).

1.  What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

2.  What are your long-term goals?

3.  Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?

Required Essays: Answer both essay questions.

1.  The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions Team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more. In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you – beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages with a font size no less than 10-point.

2.  When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length, with a font size no less than 10-point. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

Optional Essay
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).

  • Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
  • The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
  • Limit your response to two pages.

Re-applicant Essay

It is not uncommon for it to take more than one try to achieve a goal. Please share with us the self-reflection process that you underwent after last year’s application and how you have grown as a result. How did it shape your commitment to Fuqua and inspire your decision to reapply?

Responses should be no more than 2 pages, using 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
Make sure you address any gaps in your application and that you show progress.
You can access the re-applicant essay in the online application.

Fuqua also announced its 2013-2014 application deadlines.  For more information, visit Fuqua’s admissions website.

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Oxford / Saïd Essay Topics 2013-2014

Oxford / Saïd has announced its essay topics for 2013-2014!  They are as follows:

1) What should Oxford expect from you? (Maximum 500 words)

2) How do you hope to see your career developing over the next 5 years?  How will the MBA and Oxford assist you in the development of these ambitions? (Maximum 500 words)

3) Please choose and answer one of the two essays below:

- Sport is pure competition.  What does it teach us about companies, individuals, and markets? (Maximum 500 words)


- The business of business is business.  Is this true? (Maximum 500 words)

Re-applicants will need to complete the three essays mentioned above and a forth essay on the topic:

- What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (250 words)

 For more information, visit Oxford / Saïd’s admissions website.

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Georgetown / McDonough Essay Topics 2013-2014

The 2013-2014 Georgetown / McDonough essay topics have been posted.  Unchanged from last year, the essay questions are as follows:

Essay 1 (answer both Part A and Part B)

Part A: Limit  – 500 words
What is your short-term goal following graduation from the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program? What skills are you seeking to develop or improve upon in order to reach your goals?

Part B: Limit  – 100 words
What is your long-term career goal?

Essay 2 (answer either Option A or Option B)

Option A: Limit  – 750 words
Describe a global business challenge and its relevance to your post-MBA career.

Option B: Limit  – 750 words
Describe yourself both personally and professionally and how you will contribute to the Georgetown McDonough community.

“Essay” 3: Limit – 140 characters or fewer
Why do you want to attend the Georgetown McDonough Full-time MBA Program?  Tell us in tweet format*.

Optional Essay 1: Limit – 250 words
If you are not currently employed full-time, use this essay to provide information about your current activities.

Optional Essay 2: Limit – 500 words
Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included.

Re-applicant Essay (required only for reapplicants): Limit – 500 words
How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally.

Note: Essays should be double-spaced using a 12-point font

*Twitter is an online social networking service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters known as “tweets”. Applicants not familiar with Twitter can learn more, here. ( Follow Georgetown McDonough on Twitter@msbgu for daily student, alumni, and faculty-sourced content.

For more information, visit McDonough’s admissions website.

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Cornell / Johnson Essay Topics 2013-2014

Johnson has announced its 2013-2014 essay topics, which are as follows:

Essay 1:  “Who you are” (300 word maximum): You are the author for the book of Your Life Story.  In 300 words or less please write the table of contents for the book.  Note: approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.

Essay 2: “Who you turn out to be” (150 word maximum per essay)

a. When did you decide that business school was the next step for you? (Was this an epiphany or an evolutionary process?  What was the catalyst that caused you to consider this next step?)

b. Johnson values people that make things happen for themselves.  Give an example of how you have initiated this for yourself.

c. Please describe your immediate post MBA career goals.

For more information, visit Johnson’s admissions website.

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Dartmouth / Tuck Essay Topics 2013-2014

The 2013-2014 Dartmouth/Tuck essay topics have been announced! This year’s questions are below:

1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck?

2. Tell us about your most meaningful collaborative leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

3. Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback. What actions did you take as a result and what did you learn from this experience?

4. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

5. (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

Tuck encourages applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay.

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Northwestern / Kellogg Essay Topics 2013-2014

Kellogg has announced its 2013-2014 essay topics, which are as follows:

Essay 1:
What’s the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome (personally or professionally)?
How has overcoming this obstacle prepared you to achieve success now and in the future? (350 word limit)

Essay 2:
What have been your most significant leadership experiences?  What challenges did you face, and what impact did you have?

This is your opportunity to explain how you Think Bravely. (500 word limit)

Essay 3:
Part 1: What career/role are you looking to pursue and why?  (250 word limit)

Part 2: Why are Kellogg and the MBA essential to achieving these career goals?  (250 word limit)

(Please answer Part 2 in terms of your program choice: One-Year, Two-Year, MMM, JD-MBA).

Re-Applicants Only

Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 word limit) Please note: re-applicants are required to answer this question in addition to #1-3. 

Additional Information (Optional)
If needed, briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (No word limit) 

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