MBA Essay Questions From Two Decades Ago: What Top 10 Schools Were Asking

MIT’s Sloan School of Management MIT photo

MIT Sloan

  • Discuss the effect that an increasingly global economy may have on your future responsibilities as a manager, both generally and as regards your chosen field, and what you hope to learn at MIT to enable you to meet this challenge.
  • Discuss your views regarding the management of technological change as a vital skill for future managers, what impact technological change has had on your chosen career field, and how study at MIT will prepare you to face these challenges.
  • Describe a situation where you introduced and/or managed change in an organization. Tell us how you influenced others in an organization (business, school, extracurricular activity) and comment on the professional and/or personal attributes you used to do this, and how these attributes (and others) might be important to the attainment of your career goals. How do you expect the Sloan School to further the development of these attributes?
  • If we had met you five years ago and then met you again today, how would we say that you have changed? Include specific examples that characterize your development.

NYU Stern

  • Think about the decisions you have made that led you to your current position. PAST: What choices have you made that led you to your current position? PRESENT: Why is a Stern MBA necessary at this point of your life? FUTURE: What is your desired position upon graduation from the Stern School?
  • It’s August in the new century and you have three years of experience with the company that hired you after you earned your MBA. Layoffs, mergers and acquisitions continue to define the business climate. You have just learned that your position will be eliminated. You don’t have the seniority required for severance pay or outplacement services but will receive your salary through September 15. What is your plan of action?
  • As a graduate of the Stern MBA, you are a successful manager and responsible for hiring people in your department. It now appears you may have made a mistake. An employee you selected six months ago is not performing at an acceptable level. You have confronted this person, reviewed performance expectations and given constructive suggestions for improvement. However, the employee’s performance has not improved and you’ve decided this cannot continue. How will you handle the situation?
  • Assume that you are planning to launch a new business venture. Write an executive summary of your business plan to present to potential investors.
  • Describe yourself to your MBA classmates (you may use any method to convey your message: words, illustrations, etc.).
  • (Optional) Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the admissions committee. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from a current employer, please give your reasons here.

UC Berkeley – Haas

(Short essays)

  • What leisure-time activities do you enjoy?
  • Who is your favorite author?
  • What is your most valued tangible possession? What is your most valuable intangible possession?
  • Briefly explain what prompts your best efforts
  • Briefly state what you view as your most significant accomplishment
  • What do you view as a particular strength of yours? What do you view as a particular weakness? Would friends and family share your view?
  • If you had four extra hours a day (i.e. a 28-hour day), what would you do with them?

(Long essays)

    • The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates, the apology by Plato
    • What do you like about your job? What do you dislike? If you were promoted to a senior management position, what changes, if any, would you make to your former position to address your dissatisfaction?
    • Describe an ethical dilemma you have experienced and discuss how you handled the situation.
    • Please discuss your intermediate and professional long-term goals and why you want an MBA at this point in your career. In what ways do you think an MBA degree will help you achieve these goals? What do you want from an MBA program and why have you chosen the Haas School?
    • The optional essay: Please provide a statement concerning your personal history, background, and influences on your intellectual development. This statement should include educational an cultural opportunities (or lack of them), social and economic disadvantages that you may have had to overcome and the ways in which these experiences have affected you.

Matt Symonds is a co-director of Fortuna Admissions and columnist for Forbes, the BBC and formerly The Economist and BusinessWeek.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.