Scott Edinburgh
June 13, 2017

NYU Stern Class of 2020 – Essay Questions & Analysis – Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

NYU Stern has released its essay questions for class of 2020 hopefuls. Things have changed! 3 essays are required this year, one of which will necessitate a unique creative response. Stern provides applicants with these words of advice: Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes.

Personal MBA Coach is here to help you tackle these new questions!

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • What are your short and long-term career goals?

  • How will the MBA help you achieve them?

Personal MBA Coach’s Take: This is a straightforward career goals essay. Be sure to include both a short-term and long-term goal as asked, and don’t provide a list. These goals should flow logically from each other and from your current career (if they don’t, be sure to explain the transition from what you are doing now to the future goals!). While this essay does not ask about your past, a sentence or two for context on this choice and why you would be a good fit for this career would be expected and advised. But don’t rehash your resume here. Be sure to also think about why you are interested in this field and how you think you will be successful.

Next, focus on why you want an MBA. Take the time to think about your overall profile and your strengths and development opportunities. The MBA should help you to fill in these skill gaps. Be sure to tell the admissions committee members what these gaps are and how you will close them. Be specific. Vague sentences and generalities are not likely to wow anyone here. Instead, do your research on what Stern has to offer and think about which of these offerings you will take advantage of.

Essay 2: Program Preferences: NYU Stern offers a portfolio of MBA programs designed to meet the needs of our applicants. Your program preferences are very important as you will be admitted to only one program. You cannot switch your program option after receiving your admissions decision.

  • A. Primary Program Preference (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

    • Please indicate the primary MBA program for which you would like to be considered, as indicated in the Primary Program Selection section of the application.

    • Explain why the program you have selected is the best program for you.

  • B. Alternative Program Preference(s) (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

    • Please indicate any alternative program(s) for which you would also like to be considered, as indicated in the Alternative Program Selection section of the application and why you would also like to be considered for this/these program(s).

    • An alternate program does not need to be selected. If you have no alternate programs you do not need to complete this essay, just indicate “N/A”.

Personal MBA Coach’s Take: This second question is a bit unique to Stern and new this year. It will streamline the process for those looking into joint degrees and MBA options other than the full-time two-year program. Stern currently has 6 programs to choose from. Find out more about the options here. The traditional MBA program, or the Full-Time MBA, is likely to be the most common answer to this question. This is a general 2-year MBA program with fall enrollment. Stern also offers two unique one-year programs with May enrollment: The Tech MBA and The Fashion & Luxury MBA. These are new programs that are gaining a lot of traction already and should be very appealing to some. Industry specialists who are not looking to change industries might be interested in learning more about these programs. There are also part-time and joint degree options available at Stern (as with many other schools).

For those of you selecting the Full-Time MBA, think about this question as your chance to explain why you want a full-time two-year MBA program. Stern is calling attention to the increasing number of MBA options available today. A good answer to this question will show that you have done your research, not only into Stern’s specific culture and offerings, but into the differences between the programs available. Be sure to explain why you want to enroll in the full-time program and what offerings you will take advantage of that would not be available otherwise. If you don’t need or want the Full-Time MBA, this is also your chance to explain why. Think carefully about the differences, specifically the internship and career opportunities each will provide. Dual-degree program candidates will also explain that choice here as opposed to answering an additional essay.

Remember it is not required to select more than one program, so if you only want the Full-Time MBA, just select that.

Essay 3: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”): Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).

  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.

  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.

Personal MBA Coach’s Take: Stern has previously asked a personal question but is taking the desire for creativity a step further this year. With two very career focused questions, this is your opportunity to show Stern more about who you are. Before you get started, do some careful reflection. Ask yourself: What will it be like to live and study with you? What will you add to the community? How are you unique? How will you complement your classmates?

Once you have some well thought out answers to these questions, begin thinking about your pictures. Each should serve to answer one self-reflection question or highlight one unique attribute. With only one sentence to explain each image, Personal MBA Coach advises picking one point to make with each shot. Together, the 6 pictures should paint an accurate picture

of who you are and what’s important to you. Be sure that you pay attention to the headline: Personal Expression and be creative! Each shot should work with the others but tell the reader something new about you.

Finally, candidates are given the option to complete a 4th “Additional Information” essay. This is to be capped at 250 words. Don’t feel compelled to answer this essay; do so only if you have something specific to discuss and be brief. This is not a chance to tell the admissions committee how passionate you are about Stern, but a time to present unique and relevant information not covered elsewhere in your application. This is usually used to address an outstanding issue or extenuating circumstance. Many successful applicants will leave this blank.

Need help? Personal MBA Coach has been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 10 years! Call +1 617-645-2424 or email: to discuss your profile and Personal MBA Coach’s boutique one-one-one difference! Let a Wharton and MIT graduate and industry veteran guide you through the process!