The NYU Stern 2013 MBA essay questions have been released. My tips are in blue below.
Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals and thought processes.
Please note the following details when completing your essays.
- Essays 1, 2 and 4 must be typed and submitted using the standard U.S. 8 1/2” x 11” format, double-spaced, in 12-point font.
- Please adhere to the essay word limits provided for each question.
- Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 1 should answer part (a), part (b) and part (c) with a total maximum of 750 words.
- Label the top of each essay with the following: Name, Date of Birth (month, day, year), Essay Number and Page Number (e.g.: Joe Applicant, January 1, 1983, Essay 1, Page 1).
- Your essays should be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be revoked if you did not write your essays.
All but NYU’s signature third question (Personal expression) have changed at least slightly this year. However, even with the new questions, Stern is continuing down its independent path. It is not shrinking the number of essay questions, and it not asking the increasingly common experiential questions. (Tell us about a time when…)
Essay 1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
Stern states explicitly that it seeks students with a “well-articulated plan to achieve their short- and long-term goals.” This question addresses the short-term goals and the next question takes care of the long-term part of it.
Stern’s #1 is an MBA goals question with a twist. A and C are fairly typical of this genre. A is the same as last year and C is only slight changed in that it doesn’t ask about long-term goals. At the heart of this question: What do you want to do in the future that requires an MBA and why is now the right time to get it? You should be able to answer that question, or you shouldn’t be applying.
The twist comes in B, which is new: Have you done your homework about Stern? What have you done to research the program, its curriculum, career opportunities, and student life? What aspects of the program will help you achieve the goals you provide in C?
The part of the question asking about your career goal “upon graduation” is critical. Are you realistic about where your past experience plus a Stern MBA can take you? Stern doesn’t want people in la-la-land who will be impossible to place.
Finally make sure you answer all elements of the question while staying within the word limits (not guidelines). No adcom member sits there and counts words, but the readers can tell when you are significantly over. “Significantly” in my book is more than 10%. Write succinctly.
Essay 2. Your Two Paths (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?
This is new and a relatively difficult question. It forces you to embrace that broad perspective, ambiguity, and creativity, or you can’t answer the question. Let’s assume you get that first job out of Stern that you describe in Essay 1. What are the two most desirable paths you would take from there? Alternatively, chart two alternatives starting with that first job. In each path, how will you create value for others? for society? Why would you choose one path over the other?
You may have a clearly preferred plan A and a less desirable Plan B that ultimately ties to Plan A. You can have two parallel or divergent paths. I think the feasibility of your path given your past experience and an NYU MBA plus your enthusiasm, dare I say passion, for you goals are going to determine the success of this essay.
If I urged concision for essay 1, it is even more important for essay 2, which has a 500-word maximum.
Essay 3. Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.
If you submit a non-written piece for Essay 3 (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit Essay 3 via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.
Please note the following guidelines and restrictions:
- Your submission becomes the property of NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
- If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
- If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
- The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate Essay 3 if we are unable to view your submission.
- Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food), or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).
- Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.
Please note that mailed Essay 3 packages are subject to size restrictions. Submissions that exceed the stated size restrictions will not be accepted for review by the Admissions Committee. Please see the table below for the maximum package size guidelines:
|Packaging Type||Dimensions: Metric||Dimensions: Non-metric|
|Box||36cm x 31cm x 8cm||14” x 12” x 3”|
|Cylindrical tube||8cm x 91cm||3” x 36”|
|Triangular tube||97cm x 16cm x 16 cm x 16 cm||38” x 6” x 6” x 6”|
Bribes won’t work. Candidates can get very creative with this essay and use different media (other than edibles and worn attire), but many of you will convey your ideas in words. Think of how you describe yourself in a social setting when meeting people for the first time.
If it’s the first day of class or a mixer early in the pre-term, how would you break the ice? Would you try to set up a tennis game or golf match? Would you find someone to explore NYC’s museums? Or do you hate museums and prefer hiking through the woods? What would you say if you were in the campus coffee shop and sat down with some new classmates? Could you create a dialog? A short skit?
NYU Stern also permits the use of multimedia in response to this question. While the medium may vary, the point again is to introduce yourself to friends. Given the other questions, this can be a great venue for hobbies, extra-curricular interests, and community service.
I visited NYU Stern last winter and the admissions officer I met with proudly showed me several Essay 3′s. Her faves. They were incredibly creative, but much less slick than you might imagine. If you want to submit something three-dimensional or multi-media, don’t worry if you aren’t ready for the Louvre or the Academy Awards as long as your creation is authentically yours, introduces you, and sticks to the above requirements. It will be taken seriously and appreciated.
If you are considering video, download Audio/Video in Admissions: Get Ready for Prime Time, a free special report.
Essay 4. Additional Information
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason in Essay 4.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.
Obviously if you fit into one of the categories described in the 3 points above, you need to write this essay. If you don’t fit into the above categories and have something you want the admissions committee to know that isn’t part of the required essays, then you still should write this optional essay.
If you are an MBA reapplicant, please realize that the question posed here by NYU Stern is THE key question you need to answer as a reapplicant. What have you done to improve your candidacy that should change the outcome?
You may upload documents into the online application in the following formats: word, excel, PDF, .txt, .rft and .wpd.
1st Deadline 2nd Deadline 3rd Deadline
Application Due: Nov. 15, 2012 Jan. 15, 2013 March 15, 2013
Initial Notification: Feb. 15, 2013 April 1, 2013 June 1, 2013
Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the deadline. Any mailed application material must be postmarked by the deadline date.
You are encouraged to apply by the November 15 deadline to facilitate visa arrangements and to have priority consideration for off-site interviews, if desired. You may also apply for the January 15 and March 15 deadlines.
If your application is not complete (for example, missing test scores, illegible scanned transcript, no essays or other items) you will be informed via email. If you do not provide a completed application by the deadline, we cannot guarantee notification by the initial notification date.
If you would like professional guidance with your NYU Stern MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our NYU Stern School Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Stern MBA application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.