Scott Edinburgh
June 21, 2023

University of Virginia Darden MBA Application Essay Analysis 2023-2024

University of Virginia Darden MBA Program Campus

The UVA Darden MBA application essays are now live! Do you want to attend an MBA program that puts collaboration and teamwork at the forefront of your experience? If so, UVA Darden School of Business may be a great choice for you.

UVA Darden is known for its case-based and customized learning experience. First-year students are assigned to learning teams that enable them to delve deep into case discussions, strengthen their communication skills, and form strong relationships with their classmates.

Second-year students at UVA Darden use the tools learned in their first year to personalize their academic experiences, targeting specific career goals and skill sets.

If you’re looking to apply to UVA Darden’s MBA program during the 2023-2024 application cycle, the school offers a standardized test waiver. These requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and the admissions committee takes several factors into account when reviewing waivers. Check out Personal MBA Coach’s quick tips video on whether or not you should waive the GMAT:

Upcoming UVA Darden MBA Deadlines Are:

Early Action: September 7, 2023

Round 1: October 4, 2023

Round 2: January 4, 2024

Round 3: April 3, 2024


2023-2024 Darden MBA Application Essays Are Below:

Community of Belonging: What would you want your classmates to know about you that is not on your resume? (100 words)

Personal MBA Coach advises most applicants to use this first UVA Darden essay to share a personal aspect of their candidacy as opposed to talking about their professional leadership or track record. Topics discussed here should enhance (not repeat or conflict with) your “Personal Story” and should allow admissions committee members to learn more about you.

This is not the time to present a laundry list of hobbies, passions or accomplishments. Instead, focus on what makes you unique. Think about how you might add to the diversity (think literal diversity and/or diversity of perspective) on your learning team.

Be specific and keep in mind that actions are the best predictors of future behavior and provide examples wherever possible. Go beyond just sharing details about you and include the “so what?”

For example, if you were raised in a unique environment, explain this to the reader but then push further. Consider how this shaped who you are today, what makes you unique and what you will bring to the table for your learning team.

Regardless of the topic selected, show the reader that you are someone your peers will be excited to learn with!

Inclusive Leadership: Please describe a tangible example that illuminates your experience promoting an inclusive environment and what you would bring to creating a welcoming, global community at Darden. (300 words)

This question covers a topic that continues to be important to leading MBA programs: inclusion. Earlier this month Personal MBA Coach attended the annual AIGAC conference (check out our What Is on Admissions Directors’ Minds in 2023 blog for the key insights) with leading admissions directions, and Diversity & Inclusion were top of mind for all schools! Therefore, Personal MBA Coach is not surprised to see Darden’s leadership essay focused on D&I.

A personal or professional example would work here. However, Personal MBA Coach encourages candidates to look at their applications holistically when selecting a story to discuss. You want to ensure this story fits with who you are and that your Darden application includes a nice balance of personal and professional stories.

Remember that inclusion is a broad term here. Do not limit yourself to current event topics unless they are relevant to your story!

Ensure that you limit the amount of time spent on setup and instead focus on your thoughts and actions. While remaining authentic is important, think about the qualities Darden is looking for in applicants and make sure the story selected clearly SHOWS how you demonstrated them.

While the bulk of this essay should be focused on the story itself, be sure to leave time to discuss the implications of this experience and how this experience changed your leadership style and has positioned you to contribute on campus.

Careers With Purpose: At this time how would you describe your short-term, post-MBA goal in terms of industry, function, geography, company size and/or mission and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career?  (200 words) 

This question is a straightforward career goals question. With this short essay, be specific and include both your ideal position and organization type. Articulate what you hope to accomplish in this desired role and why this objective is interesting and important to you.

Darden once again specifically asks candidates about their long-term vision. Given this, be sure to discuss what you hope to learn in the short term and how this experience will prepare you to achieve your long-term goals.

Struggling to articulate your goals? Watch this quick tips video with Scott Edinburgh, Personal MBA Coach’s founder, for advice:

Looking for one-on-one support developing a compelling Darden MBA Application? Contact us today to learn more about how Personal MBA Coach’s services can help you get into UVA Darden.