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Tips for Tackling the NYU Stern 2020-2021 MBA Application Essays


For candidates who have their hearts set on relocating to (or remaining in) New York City, NYU Stern is a great option. This year, US News & World Report ranked NYU Stern the #10 Full-time MBA program and #4 Part-time MBA program.

This past application cycle, NYU Stern admitted applicants with an average GMAT score of 723 and an average undergrad GPA of 3.60. The class of 2022 has an average of 5.2 years of pre-MBA work experience. Records also note that 43% of students are female and 32% of students have international citizenship.

Unlike many other top programs, the NYU Stern Full-time MBA has a Round 2 application deadline in November. This option is great if you missed the Round 1 deadline but prefer not to wait until January to submit everything.

The remaining NYU Stern MBA application deadlines are as follows:

Round 2: November 15, 2020

Round 3: January 15, 2021

Round 4: March 15, 2021

Please see below for Personal MBA Coach’s tips on how to answer NYU Stern’s essay questions.

NYU Stern’s 2020-2021 MBA application essays:

“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.”

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?

Essay 2: 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.

Essay 3: Additional Information (optional): Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.


Personal MBA Coach’s MBA Essay Writing Tips:

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?

This first essay should be very straightforward. As with any other goal-oriented essay, you want to be specific. Include both the role you hope to have and a discussion of what you wish to accomplish in this role. Your short-term goal and your long-term goal should flow naturally (be prepared to explain if they do not).

While you do not want to repeat your resume in this essay, some brief context behind these goals would be appropriate. Include just enough detail to let the reader know where you are today so that these goals make sense.

Finally, devote a good chunk of the essay to explaining how an MBA (and specifically Stern) will help. Think about your skill gaps and how an MBA will close these gaps. It is important that you allow adequate time to research all that Stern has to offer. I suggest being very specific in detailing the opportunities you plan to take advantage of on campus. Think about classes you are particularly interested in or perhaps professors you are looking to study with, etc. Do not include a laundry list. Instead, carefully think through how each offering will allow you to fill in your skill and/or experience gaps.

Essay 2: 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.”

There are no wrong answers here as this is your chance to let the reader into your world. You do want to include a well-rounded mix of photos that tell the reader more about you. While a mix of personal and professional photos can work well, some candidates will include only personal details. Think about what makes you unique and what values drive you as you select these images. Finally, follow the directions. One sentence is ONE sentence. Have fun with this and feel free to be creative.



For tips on handling the third (optional) essay review this blog from Personal MBA Coach.

Along with the Full-time MBA Program, those interested in NYU Stern also can pursue a Fashion & Luxury MBA, Tech MBA, Executive MBA, or Part-time MBA.

Need help with your MBA applications? Personal MBA Coach is here to help!

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!

You may also be interested in the following MBA application essay advice:

Yale SOM 2020-2021 Essay Analysis

Michigan Ross 2020-2021 Essay Analysis

Duke Fuqua 2020-2021 Essay Analysis

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