HKUST 2012 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has been climbing the global MBA rankings for years, this year reaching 6th in the Financial Times Global MBA rankings. It is a small program with only 100 students and another 100 exchange students from 56 global programs in the class. What makes the program worthwhile? The diversity of the class – 93% of the class is international, and the 142% average salary increase over pre-MBA salary in the first couple of years after graduation means it is a low-risk decision to take 12 or 16 months out of the workplace.

Here are this year’s application essay questions. My suggestions and comments are in blue.

Question 1

Please tell us your motivations to pursue an MBA program, and why is now the best timing to do one. (max 1200 characters, ~200 words)

In order to understand why you are pursuing an MBA, the admissions committee needs to hear about what you have been doing with your career. Briefly discuss what you have achieved and learned from your career and explain what it is that you feel you still need to know to succeed.

Question 2

Please elaborate on your career goals. How will your academic training, professional experience coupled with an MBA education at HKUST help you achieve your goals? (max 1200 characters, ~200 words)

This is a brief but straightforward career goals essay. Explain what you hope to achieve in your career and how you have prepared for that goal. Then, explain what is unique about HKUST’s MBA program that will further ready you.

Question 3 

If you were admitted, how could your participation at HKUST MBA enrich fellow students’ experience inside or outside classroom? (max 1200 characters, ~200 words)

You have unique experiences that your classmates will benefit from. Share some of the insights you have gained and demonstrate your awareness of classes and activities at HKUST by linking this knowledge to them.

Question 4

Please pick and answer ONE of the two topics. State either 4a or 4b at the beginning of your essay.

4a. Describe a situation where your initial attempt to solve a problem failed. Tell us how you get around to finally solve the problem.

4b. Describe a situation where you created opportunities for yourself and led to a favorable outcome. (max 1800 characters, ~300 words)

Finally, a little more space to elaborate on your experiences! This question is aimed at uncovering your ability to take initiative, be creative and persistent to make an impact. For the failure, accept your failure right at the beginning of the essay to spend the majority of the essay’s space on how you solved the problem. For the “created opportunities” option, summarize the situation you faced briefly at the start so that you can focus most of the essay on your creativity and impact.

Question 5

Please pick and answer ONE of the two topics. State either 5a or 5b at the beginning of your essay.

5a. Tell us a situation when you experienced challenges in team setting, and what you have done to help the team achieve its goals.

5b. Describe a situation when you got frustrated over differences in culture or work style. What have you learnt from that experience? (max 1800 characters, ~300 words)

This essay focuses on your interpersonal abilities. You will be immersed in a class of people very different from you at HKUST, so you need to demonstrate your ability to navigate the challenges that this environment inevitably presents. For either option, you need to share an experience that demonstrates your ability to recognize the causes of the challenges and then show your flexibility, intuition, and soft skills to resolve and overcome them.

Question 6

Please tell us a situation where you faced an ethical dilemma. How did you handle the situation? (max 1200 characters, ~200 words)

HKUST places a great emphasis on accountability and developing responsible business leaders, so this essay is really at the heart of its mission. As you brainstorm for a topic for this essay, remember that an ethical dilemma is one in which no option seems perfectly right; you need to detail an example in which there was no clear “correct” path and briefly – yes the character limit went back down to 1200 for this essay! – explain how you acted, why, and what the results were.

Question 7

What do you want the Admissions Committee to know about you as a person? (max 1200 characters, ~200 words)

Most, if not all, of the previous essays focused on your professional experiences. Here is your opportunity to highlight who you are as a person, what is important to you, and to show the admissions committee how your personal qualities will contribute to the diverse HKUST class.

One possible topic is an example or two of how you formed strong relationships among peers and then used those as the basis for community impact. Since the class at HKUST is small, it depends upon its students to be dynamic; and because peer learning is such a key element of the program, your ability to form bonds and relationships in the past is essential evidence of your ability to do so on campus.


If you would like help with HKUST’s essays, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting.

HKUST 2012 MBA Deadlines:


Application Deadline

Interview Notification By

Admission Results


15 November 2011

13 January 2012

10 February 2012


15 December 2011

10 February 2012

9 March 2012


15 March 2012

11 May 2012

8 June 2012

Click here for more 2012 MBA Application Tips

Jennifer Bloom  has been successfully helping applicants demonstrate their readiness for the top MBA programs for 13 years. She would be happy to help you create your best applications.