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MBA Essay: What Yale SOM is Looking For

Yale’s motto, “Educating leaders for business and society,” is instilled in its MBA education. And at Yale School of Management (SOM), which ranks number 10 in P&Q’s ‘Top Business Schools’ ranking, the MBA application essay is specifically designed to seek out applicants with demonstrated leadership experience.

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered insights into how applicants can best approach Yale SOM’s 2022-2023 MBA application essay and clearly highlight personal and leadership qualities.

This year, Yale SOM asks applicants to answer the following essay prompt:

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)

Blackman describes this question as a behavioral question—one that requires you to explain how you think or act in certain situations. The best way to approach this prompt, she says, is to choose a specific example from your past experience and think about what it means to you.

“Provide detailed specifics about your commitment and why it qualifies as the biggest one you have ever made,” Blackman writes. “What did you think or say? Describe the actions you took. How did you feel about the result? The commitment should be large enough to show the admissions committee at Yale SOM who you are and what motivates you.”


Impact is key when answering Yale SOM’s essay prompt. Your essay should demonstrate what kind of difference you’ve made through your commitment and leadership.

“The topic of this question demonstrates your values,” Blackman writes. “Therefore, those values ideally include actions that impact the greater community. Regardless of whether you choose an individual or team commitment, make sure you show how it made a significant positive impact”


500-words can be challenging. But Blackman says it can help if you approach this essay by actually not thinking about the word count.

“Don’t censor yourself on the first draft and limit what you write,” she writes. “Instead, start by describing each step of your accomplishment in detail. Describe what you did, the reaction of others, and your feelings. From there, cut out anything too detailed or superfluous to the story. Once you have done that, you’ll find you can work within that 500-word maximum.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

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