The University of Michigan's Ross MBA program has announced its essay questions and deadlines for the Class of 2015.  Drum roll, please...

Round 1 Deadline: October 10, 2012
Round 2 Deadline: January 3, 2013
Round 3 Deadline: March 4, 2013 

The Essays are as follows:

  1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.
  2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 word maximum)
  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words)
  4. What are you most passionate about and why?  How will this passion positively impact Ross (300 word maximum)
  5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

For more information, see our Ross Essay Guide.

Tree-huggers rejoice: Mother MBA has spoken. Berkeley's Haas School of Business has released its essay questions and deadlines for the Class of 2015.

The deadlines are:

Round 1 Deadline: October 17, 2012
Round 2 Deadline: November 29, 2012
Round 3 Deadline: January 16, 2013
Round 4 Deadline: March 12, 2013

The Haas essays haven't changed dramatically from previous years, but the new essay #1 question is sure to have the blogosphere chatting and b-school applicants buzzing about what to do (the answer: be honest).  Here you go:

At Berkeley-Haas, our distinctive culture is defined by four key principles — question the status quo; confidence without attitude; students always; and beyond yourself. We seek candidates from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and industries who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles. Please use the following essays as an opportunity to reflect on and share with us the values, experiences, and accomplishments that have helped shape who you are. (Learn more about Berkeley-Haas' Defining Principles)

  1. If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum)
  2. What is your most significant accomplishment? (250 word maximum)
  3. Describe a time when you questioned an established practice or thought within an organization. How did your actions create positive change? (250 word maximum)
  4. Describe a time when you were a student of your own failure. What specific insight from this experience has shaped your development? (250 word maximum)
  5. a. What are your post-MBA short-term and long-term career goals? How have your professional experiences prepared you to achieve these goals?
    b. How will an MBA from Haas help you achieve these goals? (750 word maximum for 5a. and 5b.)
For more info, check out our Haas Essay Guide.

Yesterday, Karen Marks, the director of admissions at Dartmouth's Tuck MBA program, announced the new essay questions for the Class of 2015 in her blog. While the number of mandatory questions has been cutfrom four to three, the three remaining questions are almost identical to those asked last year. Here they are:

Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. Compose each of your answers offline in separate document files and upload them individually in the appropriate spaces. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay. There are no right or wrong answers.

Please double-space your responses.

  • Essay 1:Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA program for you, and what will you uniquely contribute to the community? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.)
  • Essay 2: Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?   
  • Essay 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? 
  • Essay 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.
 For more information, see our Tuck essay guide


MIT's Sloan MBA program has joined in the June madness, announcing their essay questions for the Class of 2015.  And in case you have trouble spelling MIT, they have provided a handy photograph on their admissions website

The new application deadlines are October 24th, 2012 for Round 1 and December 27th, 2012 for Round 2. If you celebrate Christmas and plan on applying in Round 2, you might want to start changing your holdiay plans now.

As in previous years, candidates must include a cover letter and essays. 

Cover Letter: Prepare a cover letter (up to 500 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should describe your accomplishments, address any extenuating circumstances that may apply to your application, and conform to standard business correspondence. Your letter should be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions.


We are interested in learning more about how you work, think, and act. For each essay, please provide a brief overview of the situation followed by a detailed description of your response. Please limit the experiences you discuss to those which have occurred in the past three years.

In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did.

  • Essay 1: Please describe a time when you had to convince a person or a group of your idea. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)
  • Essay 2: Please describe a time when you overcame a personal setback. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)
Check out our MIT Sloan essay guide for more information.

The Ivy League strikes again. Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management announced their new essay questions and deadlines for the class of 2015 today, leaving Dartmouth's Tuck as the last of the Ivy League b-schools to put their proverbial flag in the sand.

Cornell's application deadlines are:

Round 1 Deadline: October 17, 2012
Round 2 Deadline: November 28, 2012
Round 3 Deadline: January 30, 2013
Round 4 Deadline: March 27, 2013

The Essay questions are divided into three parts:

Part I:  Career Choice Essay (300 word maximum)

How would you characterize your career since college?

This is not your job description or complete history of your work since graduating (we already ask for that in the online portion and can see this on your resume).  You need to choose the most important elements that show your initiative, contribution, leadership and results achieved.

Part II:  Career Goal Essay (400 word maximum)

Tell us about your short and long term career goals.

Please show you have a clear direction for your goal post-MBA.  Good essays will emphasize what an applicant wants to do while at Johnson and how you will use this experience to accomplish your goal.

Part III:  Character Essay (400 word maximum for chosen question), please choose one of the following to write about:

  • A) You are the author for the book of Your Life Story.  Please write the table of contents for the book.  Note: Approach this essay with your unique style.  We value creativity and authenticity.
  • B) Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed and tell us what you learned.
  • C) What does diversity mean to you and how will you contribute to the diversity of our community at Johnson? 

 For more information, check out our Cornell Johnson essay guide

Evan Forster, founder of Forster-Thomas, provides his tips and advice on how to answer the HBS essay questions for the class of 2015.

When you've been doing this as long as I have, there's one proverb you know is always true: The more things change, the more they stay the same. And this couldn't be truer than with the new Harvard Business School essay questions.

Hidden deep within essay 1, "Tell us something you did well," is your basic accomplishment and/or leadership question (see chapters 9 and 10 of The MBA Reality Check). The choice is yours, but I'd go with leadership. This is HBS, so it's all about leadership potential. The obvious default is to find a great professional moment in your work history, but if you don't have one, don't despair. After all, you're barely 25. What did you expect? (If your answer is, "to rule the world" you're a perfect HBS candidate). What you need now is to—dare I say it—dig down deep and find a great moment in your not-so-distant past wherein you led the charge, faced a challenge, and got others to row that boat across the Delaware with you at its prow. (No white wig unless there's a drag aspect to your triumphant tale).

But if not at work, then where? Leadership is everywhere: in your family, with your friends, and in your extracurriculars (or as we like to call them at Forster-Thomas Inc, your Power-curriculars ©2012—things you do that change a community). This means anything from throwing a really great surprise bachelorette party to launching a college mentor program. The key is in the lesson you learn that you can and do apply to every part of your professional life. Remember, you need to demonstrate a strength or, as we like to call it, a super power!  

Essay 2: "Tell us about something you wish you had done better." What's behind that door, Vanna White? Well let's pull the curtain back and what do we find—yes, it's another failure or mistake question in disguise (see Chapter 13 in The MBA Reality Check). In this essay, you need to communicate a weakness, or at the risk of overdoing the metaphor, your personal Kryptonite. Again, this means digging down deep and really telling the truth about something you screwed up and what you learned from it—not how you fixed it or saved the day in the 11th hour. Remember, in this reality show, you do not get immunity. You must face the music, no holds barred. Admit the truth about yourself: something not so great; something you wish no one knew; something you would love to take back, but can't.

Does this flop come from your personal or professional life? It does not matter. (That said, it cannot be a bad grade. That's a different essay entirely—see Optional Essays in Chapter 19 of The MBA Reality Check). What matters here is that you see your weakness and change your behavior as you move forward. And when you see it and come out with it, admissions is gonna love you. They're gonna see what your good friends, lover, wife, partner, frat brothers, and teammates love about you—your ability to face the truth about you.

Finally, it's all about what you learned from this personal or professional error. How have you grown? How, when faced with subsequent similar circumstances, do you take your life/profession on now? That's what makes you an awesome leader—now and in the future.

Tip: If you're not a little worried about sharing this story with the committee, you are not HBS material. In fact, you're not top ten material—and the Tribal Council will definitely vote you off the treacherous Island of Harvard.

This year, if you make it to the HBS interview, you will encounter Question 3, "The Last Word," as Dean Leopold refers to it (I like to call this one Survivor: HBS, The Final Round).

Should you make it this far, just think talk radio. Nothing is more difficult than having to figure out the "underlying issue" in 8 minutes or less when Uncle David and I host Job Talk. So, what do you do? Well, you can't prepare for this one since the topic of the essay is the interview, and until you've had it, you won't know what was said.

What I can tell you is that you need to be authentic. Real. Ask yourself what you really wished you could've told that interviewer. What do you truly think needed expanding? Or what burning question did you have—after you walked out. We all get 'em. Hindsight is 20/20. This is your opportunity to show your ability to dance in the moment and zero in on the underlying issue—just like we have to do with our callers. So, be your own radio talk show host and, no matter what, say what you are thinking. Identify the elephant in the room during the interview and go for it. It's not a time to be careful. Ultimately this is about taking a huge risk. Doug Flutie, throw that Hail Mary pass!

For more information about the HBS essay questions and deadlines, see our HBS essay guide.

Yale's School of Management has announced the essay questions and deadlines for the MBA class of 2015. The deadlines are October 4th, 2012 for Round 1, January 8th, 2013 for Round 2, and April 18th, 2013 for Round 3 (aka, the slacker-procrastination round). 

This year’s application contains four essay questions. The first question has a maximum response length of 150 words; the other three have maximum response lengths of 300 words. Applicants must respond to all four questions. The questions are:

  1. What prompted your decision to get an MBA? When did you realize that this was a step you wanted – or needed – to take? (150 words maximum)
  2. Describe a difficult professional decision you had to make. What were the consequences, and what, if anything, did you learn? Would you make the same decision again? (300 words maximum)
  3. The Yale School of Management provides a leadership education characterized by broad-minded and intellectually curious students with diverse backgrounds, a distinctive integrated curriculum, connections to one of the great research universities in the world, and the broad reach of an innovative and expanding global network of top business schools. What will you contribute to the Yale SOM community, and how will being part of it help you extend your professional vision? (300 words maximum)
  4. What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment?  Why? (300 words maximum)

If you are a reapplicant, you must answer three essay questions: Question 1., Question 4., and then a response to the question “What steps have you taken to improve your candidacy since your last application? (300 words maximum).”

Yale SOM's actual application has yet to go live, so hang in there, eager beavers. For the rest of you, check out more info in our Yale SOM Essay Guide.  


The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton MBA program has announced the essay questions and (most) deadlines for the Class of 2015.

The deadlines are October 1st for Round 1, January 3rd for Round 2, and "March, 2013" for Round 3, suggesting that perhaps it was intern week at the Wharton admissions website. No doubt someone will soon post an update; until then, put a large red circle around the month of March. 

Wharton's new essay questions are as follows:

Required Question:

How will the Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)

Respond to 2 of the following 3 Questions:

  1. Select a Wharton MBA course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (500 words)
  2. Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself "work free" for three hours, what would you do? (500 words)
  3. "Knowledge for Action draws upon the great qualities that have always been evident at Wharton: rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership." - Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School.  Tell us about a time when you put knowledge into action. (500 words)

There is also an additional essay for reapplicants, as well as an optional essay, which can be found on our Essay Guide for Wharton

While Wharton has kept the same format they used for last year's essays (one required goals essay, folllowed by a choose-2-of-3 prompt), the actual questions are all different this year.  At first glance, the most unusual new question is the one that asks candidates to state what they would do if they had the afternoon off work; hopefully Wharton admissions are bracing themselves for a slew of essays about beer and naps.

Check back soon for our Best Practices Blog on how to answer the Wharton essay questions for 2012-2013.   

Today, NYU Stern released its new application deadlines and essay questions for the class of 2015.  The deadlines are:

Round 1 deadline: November 15, 2012

Round 2 deadline: January 15, 2013

Round 3 deadline: April 15, 2013

The essay questions are:

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-pt font)

    a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
    b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
    c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
Essay 2: Your Two Paths (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-pt font)

The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

    a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
    b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
    c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?
Essay 3: Personal Expression

Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

If you submit a non-written piece for Essay 3 (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit Essay 3 via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

More info on Essay 3 can be found in our Stern essay guide.

After six years of recycling the same three essay questions, Stern has finally made some changes to its roster.  There are still only three essays, but Essay 1 has been updated somewhat (slightly different wording and order from years past), while Essay 2 is a completely new essay (and an unusual one at that).  Check back soon for our Best Practices blog on how to approach the new Stern essays. 

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released its essay questions for the Class of 2015:

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

  • The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.
  • They give us a vivid and genuine image of who you are—and they also convey how you became the person you are.
  • They do not focus merely on what you've done or accomplished. Instead, they share with us the values, experiences, and lessons that have shaped your perspectives.
  • They are written from the heart and address not only a person, situation, or event, but also how that person, situation, or event has influenced your life.
Essay 2: What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford?

  • Use this essay to explain your view of your future, not to repeat accomplishments from your past.
  • You should address two distinct topics:
    • your career aspirations
    • and your rationale for earning your MBA at Stanford, in particular.
  • The best examples of Essay 2 express your passions or focused interests, explain why you have decided to pursue graduate education in management,  and demonstrate your desire to take advantage of the opportunities that are distinctive to the Stanford MBA Program.

Essay 3:  Answer one of the three questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.

  • Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
  • Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.
  • Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.
As in past years, there is a maximum word limit--this time 1,600 words--for all of the essays combined, rather than a strict limit for each individual essay. Stanford suggests that candidates allot 750 words for essay 1, 450 words for essay 2, and 400 words for essay three. 

Check back later for our tips and advice on how to answer Stanford's essay questions.