Personal MBA Coach’s 2019-2020 MBA Essay Predictions

Which top schools will change their 2019 MBA application essays?

Many MBA hopefuls who have already narrowed down their target school lists (need help with school selection?) are anxiously awaiting the release of the 2019-2020 MBA application questions and deadlines.

While we cannot perfectly predict the future, Personal MBA Coach’s 11 years of MBA Admissions Consulting experience can help us to assess what MBA candidates should expect this year.

Below I have outlined which top MBA programs altered their MBA application essays over each of the past two years. Many programs are known for consistency, rarely changing essays, while others tend to make frequent and significant modifications. A few are more prone to making minor tweaks.

Analyzing these patterns in combination with insights gleaned from organizational announcements allowed Personal MBA Coach to predict what MBA applicants are most likely to face this year, dividing top schools into one of three groups: Likely To Remain Consistent, Expected To Make Minor Modifications, Most Likely To Revolutionize

Essay Pattern

SchoolChanged Essays in 2018Changed Essays in 2017
Harvard Business SchoolNoNo
Chicago BoothYesNo
WhartonYesNo
Stanford GSBNoNo
MIT SloanYes (increased word limit)Yes (added video)
KelloggNoYes
Yale SOMNoNo
Michigan RossYesYes
Columbia GSB YesYes
Dartmouth TuckYesYes
London Business School NoNo
NYU SternYesYes
UVA DardenYesYes
Duke FuquaNoNo

Likely To Remain Consistent

Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB and Duke Fuqua have not changed their essays in many years. Given this, we would be surprised to see changes from any of these schools this year. If these MBA programs are on your list, brainstorming or even outlining essays now is a fairly low-risk endeavor. (Wondering how to get started on your HBS essay – check out our HBS essay analysis)

Kellogg and Yale SOM are also on our “less likely to change” list.

Kellogg did not change its questions last year and with a new dean starting in August, I would not expect changes this year (though future changes could come).

Yale SOM has been consistent over the last few years and seems to have invested heavily in its unique essay question. SOM has also announced a new dean who will be starting in July, after the expected release of this year’s question(s). A change is less likely for Yale as well.

While not as solidly in the “likely to remain consistent” group, we would be more surprised to see changes from London Business School and Chicago Booth. London Business School has not changed its essay in the past few years and Chicago Booth just made a major change last year after remaining consistent for the preceding few years.

Expected To Make Minor Modifications

For other schools, minor tweaks and changes to some questions are more likely based on past behavior.

Wharton has left the first question unchanged for the past few years while making some changes to the second question last year. The year before, Wharton did not make any changes to its essay questions (though did revamp its LOR requirements).

The MIT Sloan cover letter has been a staple for a number of years. However, the school has altered the length in previous years and added additional requirements.

Most Likely To Revolutionize

There is a third group of schools which has historically been more prone to frequent changes. This list includes Columbia Business School, Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, NYU Stern, and UVA Darden.

Columbia Business School changed two of its three questions and NYU Stern changed one of its questions last year. Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck and UVA Darden made more detailed changes. All five schools have made changes in each of the past two years, though some did so because of changes in the admissions office.

If these schools are on your list, I would suggest waiting for the release of this year’s questions before putting in major effort into your essays.

Instead, review our recent 5-Month Round 1 Plan to find out what you can do now to kick-start your applications.

Keep in mind, the details shared above are predictions only! As soon as this year’s questions are released (which could begin as early as this month) Personal MBA Coach will let you know what has changed and share our advice on how to tackle each question.


Personal MBA Coach LogoScott Edinburgh is a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan BS graduate and founded Personal MBA Coach over 11 years ago with the goal of providing customized one-on-one support. Scott also serves on the Board of Directors for AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants and is invited to speak at MBA Admissions events globally. Our clients have been accepted to all top schools globally with a 96% success rate. They received $4.5M in total scholarships last year, averaging ~$50K per scholarship recipient.