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Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

Tips for Georgetown University’s 2022-2023 MBA Essays

At Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, a global mindset is built into the B-school’s mission and ethos. Georgetown University is home to one of the world’s top international affairs programs and McDonough ranks third for its international business program in U.S. News.

This year, McDonough reduced its MBA essay options from a choice of four prompts to a choice of three. Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently delve into each essay option and offered tips on how applicants should approach their writing if they hope to appeal to the B-school’s core mission and international community.


The first essay option asks applicants the following:

Principled Leadership: Georgetown McDonough places a strong emphasis on principled leadership, providing both curricular and co-curricular opportunities to strengthen your leadership skills. Describe a time when you have led a team in a professional environment to implement a new idea or process. What leadership characteristics did you utilize? What could you have done to be more effective? And most importantly, what skills will you be able to bring to the teams you lead at McDonough?

This essay prompt requires thinking about your recent leadership experiences and highlighting lessons that you’ve learned in the process of leading others.

“Note that Georgetown is looking for ‘principled’ leadership,” Blackman says. “Further, Georgetown defines principled leaders as those who operate with a ‘clearly articulated set of principles and values.’ Therefore, defining your own set of principles and values in this essay will help you explain how you led the team. Georgetown wants to understand both what you did and how you did it.”


The second essay option asks applicants the following:

Hoyas for the Common Good: Georgetown McDonough embodies the ethos that people and organizations can and should contribute to the greater good. The admissions committee would like to better understand how you have demonstrated these values during uniquely challenging times. Describe a time where you have put the needs of others ahead of your own or ahead of the bottom line. We look forward to learning more about the challenge you faced, what unique characteristics you brought to that scenario, and what you learned from it.

Like essay option one, option two asks about leadership examples. The difference, Blackman says, is this essay requires context around challenges.

“Because many businesses put the bottom line first, you would be acting against that norm,” Blackman says. “Also, many professionals put their ambitions above the needs of others. If you acted from your principles, it might have been uncomfortable. So, you’ll want to explain how your actions were a challenge and why.”


The third essay option asks applicants the following:

The Georgetown Community. Georgetown McDonough is a diverse, global community. We look to understand the contribution that your personal background would make to our community. As appropriate, you may wish to address any obstacles or challenges you have overcome; any educational, familial, cultural, economic, and social experiences that have helped to shape your educational and professional goals; or how your background (e.g. first-generation student, resident outside the U.S.) or activities (e.g. community service and leadership) will contribute to our community.

The last essay option is all about diversity—and how you’ll add to the McDonough community.

“This option is a great choice if you would like the admissions committee to be aware of a unique aspect of your background,” Blackman says. “Also, note that the question has a broad definition of diversity. As a result, you can either describe challenges arising from your background or describe strengths.”

Blackman suggests approaching this essay by reflecting upon your personal life experiences.

“Has anything in your family, economic, cultural, or social experiences had an impact of any kind?” Blackman says. “Next, determine if the impact was a challenge or an opportunity for you. Now, describe that experience in this essay. Make sure you use detail and explain how you felt and behaved as a result.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q

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