What are Different Types of MBA Essays?

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  • Written By: Paul Woods
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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In most master of business administration (MBA)degree programs, essays are required from each applicant. These MBA essays fall into four general types: the applicant’s core values, an explanation of the reasons the applicant is applying, the applicant's accomplishments, and the applicant's interaction with others. Most MBA applications, regardless of which of these four types of essays may be requested, may also include supporting material or additional questions.

Core values MBA essays focus on those beliefs or experiences that have shaped the applicant and what an MBA degree will mean for those values. As an example, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management requires an essay that explains how the applicant’s values will make the Kellogg experience better for all students in the applicant’s class. Stanford University’s MBA application process requires applicants to explain what matters to them and why.

Essays focusing on the reasons an applicant is applying require an explanation as to why the applicant is submitting the application at this particular time in life and how it plays into long-term career and personal goals. The University of Chicago’s MBA program, for example, requires this type of essay. In most cases, the reasons essay also requires applicants to detail particular personal or professional life experiences that have resulted in he or she seeking admission to the program.


Accomplishment MBA essays focus on what the applicant has achieved prior to applying. Many MBA programs require professional work experience after college graduation as a condition of admittance. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, as one example, requires MBA essays that detail professional career accomplishments.

Some programs require an essay about the impact the applicant has had on others or what impact others have had on the applicant. Harvard University requires MBA essays that focus on a defining experience in the applicant’s life, among many other required materials. Other programs require an essay that details how the applicant lived out his or her values and how those values affected others.

Within these general types of MBA essays, each program has additional specific requirements that can be included in the application essay or submitted as supporting documentation. The University of Chicago, for example, requires a slide presentation to illustrate the essay. Some programs ask for an additional essay on the applicant’s global perspective. Many programs ask the applicant to submit a secondary essay on a team experience that was positive or negative and what the applicant learned from that experience.


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