Scott Edinburgh
June 1, 2017

Wharton EMBA Class of 2020 – Essay Questions and Analysis – Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

Wharton has just released its 2017-2018 Executive MBA essay questions. Read below for the questions and Personal MBA Coach’s advice on how to tackle them.

Essay Question 1: Required (750 word limit): What are your career objectives and how will the Wharton MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of this objective?

Essay Question 2: Required (750 word limit): In his groundbreaking TedTalk “Are You a Giver or a Taker?


Adam Grant describes three primary personality types in the workplace: givers, takers, and matchers. Based on your understanding of yourself and our program, how do you intend to give and take as a student at Wharton?

Essay Question 3: Required (500 word limit): Given your already demanding job and the desire to remain committed to important family and personal obligations, how do you plan to handle the additional demands on your time once you enroll?

Essay Question 4: Optional (500 word limit): Please explain any extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware (e.g., unexplained gaps in your work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent academic performance). You may also take this opportunity to share other defining aspects of your life that the Admissions Committee would not otherwise have learned from your application or resume.

For question #1, we recommend a straight forward response. Clearly state your goals and provide some brief perspective on how you arrived at these goals. In most cases, including both a short-term and long-term goal would be ideal. You do not need to (and should not!) rehash your resume. Instead, reference your past with respect to how it will help you achieve your future goals. Also critical here is being specific about how Wharton will help and what you will do on campus. Avoid vague statements and instead do your research and determine what specifically Wharton will offer you and discuss this here. Don’t over think this one!

Essay number 2 is new this year. It goes without saying but watch the video, a few times! Even if you have seen it before, watch it again. Then think about how you are and will be a giver. Be sure to consider Adam’s perspective on takers when you include detail on how you will be a taker on campus. The focus here should be specifics on how you intend to add value on campus. Think about the different perspectives you have: how your unique background might help your classmates, what organizations you intend to join, how you intend to contribute to these organizations, etc. Remember about the hidden takers discussed and be sure to address this by showing how you have been a giver in the past. The most credible answer here will provide evidence of this behavior in the context of how you will mimic it on campus.

For the third essay, it is important to provide evidence that you have the necessary personal and professional support in place to balance effectively. Include details on how your boss is supportive and what changes you will be able to make in your demanding role to allow enough time to focus on your studies. There is no need to go into complete detail on your personal situation, but it is important that you have adequate support at home so some evidence you can provide of this should be included. This is also a great place to mention other times in your career that you have balanced successfully. If you worked through college, worked two jobs at the same time or held a volunteer position outside of work, mention how you balanced in that case here. Once again, providing past evidence will generate the most credible response.

The final optional essay is very case specific so we will not provide general advice but do not feel compelled to answer it. These three essays should prove adequate for many candidates.

If you have questions on how to handle these essays for your unique situation or want help with any aspect of the EMBA application process, Personal MBA Coach is here to help! We have been helping clients for 10 years with a 96% success rate! Scott, the founder, is also a Wharton alum. Reach out today: or +1 (617) 645 2425 to discuss your profile as well as how we could help!