Scott Edinburgh
September 2, 2022

How to Approach the Top MBA Essays

a desk with the tools to write the Top MBA Essays

While there are an increasing number of compelling MBA programs around the world, with impressive rankings and strong alumni networks, the M7 schools continue to be attractive choices for MBA hopefuls.

For those planning to apply to one or more of the M7 schools, Personal MBA Coach is here to help you navigate the essay-writing process.

Accessible to all Personal MBA Coach newsletter subscribers, our free M7 Essay Analysis e-book features our exclusive guidance on how to approach the 2022-2023 application essays for each of the M7 business schools.

Below, Personal MBA Coach shares the required essay questions for all of the M7 schools, as well as some quick tips for how to respond successfully to these top MBA program essays!

Stanford GSB Essays

Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why? (650 words suggested) 

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: Take considerable time to reflect upon what you are most passionate about. In an ideal scenario, you have acted on this passion, and it is reflected in more than one aspect of your life. Think carefully about why this passion is important to you, and do not forget the WHAT here. At the end of the day, a cause or passion that you have done nothing with will not resonate strongly with the admissions committee (or be very believable).

Essay 2: Why Stanford? (400 words suggested)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: For this second Stanford GSB essay, start by setting up why you want an MBA, including your goals and the skills needed to make these goals a reality. Then, make it clear how Stanford specifically will help you fill these skill gaps, mentioning classes, clubs, and programs that interest you. Do not forget to detail what draws you to Stanford’s culture as well!

For more Stanford GSB essay advice, check out Personal MBA Coach’s full blog here.

Wharton Essays

Number of Required Essays: 2

Personal MBA Coach suggests that you consider each Wharton essay individually while also making sure that your two responses complement one another.

Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short- and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: The first Wharton essay gives applicants the opportunity to reflect on their high-level aspirations. As you consider your future, think about your skill gaps and how attending Wharton will enable you to close these gaps. Cover the opportunities you want to avail yourself of on campus and be sure to demonstrate a clear understanding of Wharton’s culture.

Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: This second MBA essay question gives candidates a chance to showcase previous accomplishments and potential contributions to the Wharton community. Applicants can choose from impressive extracurricular accomplishments, specific talents, and/or distinct professional skills. A powerful response will highlight multiple contributions that clearly unite your personal story, career goals, and passions!

Get Personal MBA Coach’s detailed guidance on Wharton essays 1 and 2 here.


Harvard Business School Essay

Number of Required Essays: 1

Essay: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program? (900 words maximum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: The HBS essay is an invitation to reveal what is truly interesting about you and let the admissions committee “meet” the person behind your MBA application.

That said, responses will vary significantly for everyone. Do not try to write what you think the admissions committee wants to read. Instead, consider the unique value that you will add to the HBS community.

Strong essays often share a detailed personal story, or at least some kind of personal anecdote, which is usually tied to a recurring theme within your HBS essay.

Looking for more HBS essay advice? Visit our full blog here.

MIT Sloan Cover Letter

Rather than asking applicants to submit a standard MBA essay, MIT Sloan requests that candidates submit a cover letter.

Cover Letter: MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more professional examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Admissions Committee (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: Here, applicants must think about their most noteworthy accomplishments, making it clear what they will bring to the Sloan community. Approach the MIT Sloan cover letter as you would approach any other professional cover letter. This means that you must tell the reader who you are and specifically ask for a place in the MIT Sloan class.

Get more of Personal MBA Coach’s MIT Sloan cover letter advice here.

Chicago Booth Essays

Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 words minimum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: This first Chicago Booth essay is a standard goals question. Think about your short- and long-term goals, highlighting how you developed these goals and identifying your higher-level aspirations. Do not forget to think about your skill gaps and how a Booth MBA will help you achieve your post-MBA goals. You will want to detail the classes, programs, or clubs that you hope to take advantage of.

Essay 2: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (250 words minimum)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: This MBA essay prompt encourages candidates to reflect upon the personal aspects of their profile. Use this as your opportunity to show what differentiates you from other applicants. Possible topics to cover include values, passions, extracurricular activities, and hobbies.

Learn more about tackling the Chicago Booth essays here.

Kellogg Essays

Number of Required Essays: 2

Essay 1: Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: While most share a professional story for this first question, leadership examples in your extracurriculars could also work here. A successful response for this Kellogg essay will showcase your strengths and specific skillsets.

Essay 2: Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: The second Kellogg essay question can be challenging, as it forces applicants to reflect on what really drives and motivates them. For each value that you select, explain WHY this value is important to you and demonstrate HOW this value is reflected in your life.

For more information, visit Personal MBA Coach’s full Kellogg essay analysis blog here.

Columbia Business School Essays

Number of Required Essays: 3

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: This Columbia Business School essay prompt enables you to show how you envision your career unfolding. The school asks for a short- and long-term dream job so make sure you include both. Although candidates should have lofty goals here, these goals should also align with their short-term goals and story as a whole.

Essay 2: Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: CBS’s second MBA essay gives applicants a chance to share what attracts them to CBS. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about the classes, clubs, and additional programs that interest you, such as speaker series and immersion seminars. Be sure to cover classes and programs that are specifically unique to Columbia Business School!

Essay 3: Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

Personal MBA Coach’s Quick Tips: This final Columbia Business School essay question provides the chance to share something unique about your profile. To get started, think about your hobbies, passions, values, or upbringing. Then choose a book, movie, or song that ties to your own experience(s).

As Personal MBA Coach often says, the WHAT matters less than the WHY here. Instead of selecting something to impress the reader, choose something that genuinely resonates with you.

Columbia Business School applicants can access our additional CBS essay advice here.

For more guidance on the top MBA essays, download Personal MBA Coach’s M7 Essay Analysis e-book!

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