Scott Edinburgh
June 23, 2020

Duke Fuqua 2020-2021 MBA Application Essay Analysis

Duke Fuqua has shortened its MBA application essays for 2020-2021 MBA hopefuls. Previously, Duke had one of the longest MBA applications so this should come as a welcome and arguably necessary change for MBA hopefuls, putting Duke more in line with other competitive schools.

This year’s deadlines are as follows:

Personal MBA Coach would like to share what has changed and provide our tips for tackling the Duke Fuqua MBA application.

In addition to a required short answer question: What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan, Duke asks applicants to answer two essay questions.

Essay 1: 25 random things about yourself

Instructions: 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 two pages.

For context: Fuqua believes different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out the best in everyone. And above all, we place a premium on succeeding while making a positive impact on businesses, organizations, and the world. These ways of thinking set the Duke MBA experience apart, and this concept 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.

With this MBA application essay, be yourself and have fun. The majority of this essay should be personal in nature, including both hobbies, passions and interesting facts. These facts do not need to be formal. This is your chance to show how you are unique. There are no real wrong answers here but I advise that clients limit repetition and do not include a lot of professional details.

Check out these examples from Duke to get some additional inspiration!

Essay 2: The Fuqua community and you

Instructions: Your response should be no more than 300 words.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and to the development of leaders.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are 3 ways you expect to contribute at Fuqua?

For this shortened version of what used to be a longer two page essay, follow Duke’s advice here and pick THREE things only.

An ideal answer for this MBA application essay will show that you are a well-rounded and engaged citizen and will act this way as well once you get on campus. They want to see that you did your research and really know why you want to go to Duke and how you will improve the community. You should include a mix of what you have done in the past AND specifically how you will be active on campus. In addition to discussing the Fuqua culture, you should specifically mention how you will be involved on campus.

Name specific clubs you might join, programs you hope to establish and/or ways you would

like to become involved in the broader community. Despite the fact that Duke Fuqua shortened this essay, it is particularly important to Fuqua that candidates have clearly thought through their unique roles on campus so be sure to devote plenty of time to research here!

Optional Essays

Duke Fuqua also has an optional essay. However, DO NOT feel compelled to answer this application essay. In most instances, I only advise candidates with extenuating circumstances (i.e. low GPAs or gaps in employment) to provide additional information here.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, we regularly help applicants navigate their applications each year. We also conduct mock interviews with former M7 interviewers on our team.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for 13 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

Take a look these blogs for additional MBA application advice:

How To Ensure Your MBA Letters of Recommendation Shine

How to Maximize Your Chance for an MBA Scholarship

Less Is More When it Comes to Writing Compelling MBA Application Essays