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University of Virginia Darden MBA Application Essay Analysis 2020-2021


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. As first years, 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 these 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 2020-2021 application cycle, the school now 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.

Ready to begin the application process?

The upcoming UVA Darden application deadlines are as follows:

Round 2: January 4, 2021

Round 3: April 7, 2021

Please see below for Personal MBA Coach’s advice on how to approach the UVA Darden MBA application essays.

UVA Darden’s 2020-2021 MBA Application Essays:

Essay 1: Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words maximum)

Essay 2: Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community.

Diversity stands with ethics, integrity, and academic excellence, as a cornerstone of University culture. The University promotes an inclusive and welcoming environment that embraces the full spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, and disciplines. When people of different backgrounds come together, they exchange ideas, question assumptions (including their own), and broaden the horizons for us all. A University of Virginia community rich in diversity affords every member equal respect and provides a forum for understanding our differences as well as our commonalities.

Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words maximum)


Short Answer 1: The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (50 words maximum)

Short Answer 2: Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personally, professionally, or both? (100 words maximum)

Short Answer 3: What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words maximum)

Short Answer 4: What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words maximum)


Personal MBA Coach’s MBA Essay Writing Tips:

Essay 1: Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words maximum)

Darden’s statement about responsible leadership should help candidates to focus their answers. You should naturally choose a situation where you made a considerable and hopefully lasting impact. It is important that the selected story also paints a solid picture of your leadership style. Responsible and purpose are crucial words to consider and extracurricular and volunteer work would fit nicely here.


That said, do not force this question. There are many examples of informal leadership that could work well if you do not have a strong extracurricular story. As candidates brainstorm topics for this essay, they should consider both personal and professional examples. Make sure to consider the impact that you have made. What was the result of following this purpose?

Essay 2: Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community.

Diversity stands with ethics, integrity, and academic excellence, as a cornerstone of University culture. The University promotes an inclusive and welcoming environment that embraces the full spectrum of human attributes, perspectives, and disciplines. When people of different backgrounds come together, they exchange ideas, question assumptions (including their own), and broaden the horizons for us all. A University of Virginia community rich in diversity affords every member equal respect and provides a forum for understanding our differences as well as our commonalities.

Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words maximum)

This question covers a topic that is becoming increasingly important to many leading MBA programs. Once again, a personal or professional example would work here. Ensure that you limit the amount of time spent on set-up and instead focus on your thoughts and actions. While remaining authentic is important here, think about the qualities Darden is looking for from applicants and make sure the story selected clearly SHOWS how you demonstrated them.

Short Answer 1: The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (50 words maximum)

The “why” is more important than the “what” here. When selecting a country (and considering what you hope to learn from this experience), assess your overall story, goals and passions. Naturally, it may be good to have a tie.


Further, the learnings or experience should prepare you to achieve long- term success. Also feel free to use this opportunity to describe a different side of you that is not reflected elsewhere. That said, as much as you might love to sit on the beach in Fiji, this would not be a great choice for most candidates.


Short Answer 2: Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personally, professionally, or both? (100 words maximum)

When determining the balance between personal or professional for this essay, consider your entire application and ensure your responses provide insight into both aspects of your candidacy. If you chose professional examples for the earlier questions, go with personal details here and vice versa. Instead of a laundry list, focus on one or two things. These examples should enhance (not repeat or conflict with) your “Personal Story” and allow admissions committee members to learn more about you.


Remember, you want to show how you are someone others would want to live, work and socialize with. This is not the time to list off impressive accomplishments. Instead, help the reader to understand who you are and what makes you unique.

Short Answer 3: What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words maximum)

This question is a straightforward career goals question. (Need help articulating your goals?) 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.

Short Answer 4: What are you excited to explore in Charlottesville? (25 words maximum)

UVA Darden shares a video about Charlottesville and asks applicants to watch it before answering this question. For this short answer question, take a look at the video, ideally do a bit of research on your own and mention something unique that fits your profile. This is a great chance to mention another hobby or passion.

Are you looking for help with your MBA applications? Personal MBA Coach is here to guide you through the process.

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 helping 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 scott@personalmbacoach.com for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!

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