Wharton 2014 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out our Wharton b-school zone! Wharton joined the MBA application shrink parade and has cut one essay from its application reducing the required number of essays from three to two while retaining one optional essay question. Another change: last year applicants could elect two out of three options for two of the required questions. This year all essays are required or optional; nothing is elective.

My tips for completing the Wharton application essays are in blue below.

The Admissions Committee is interested in getting to know you on both a professional and personal level. We encourage you to be introspective, candid, and succinct. Most importantly, we suggest you be yourself.


1. What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

What do you want to achieve personally or professionally that you can’t do now and that a Wharton MBA will help you achieve?  Note the questions is not just asking what you want to do after you graduate and not asking for exclusively professional aspirations. It is giving you the option to dream a bit and really talk about a grander vision for your future.

As with most goals questions, Wharton still wants to see how you connect it to your future. Keep in mind that Wharton has an incredibly rich curriculum. How will you take advantage of its premier offerings to prepare yourself to achieve your vision for the future?

FYI, this essay question last year, which only referenced “professional objectives,” was 400 words. This is one of the few cases where an MBA program in the 2013-14 application cycle is actually giving you more space to answer a question.

2. Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)

Realize the central role of the learning team and the growing importance of the cluster and cohort as critical social units and networks at Wharton. Are you going to organize events for your cluster? Do you aspire to be a Leadership Fellow during your second year?  Are you going to take an active role in particular clubs and student groups? Are you quantitatively strong and willing to help fellow students who may be struggling with the math in Wharton’s data-driven, rigorous curriculum?  Are you going to assume responsibility for organizing an event — anything from Wharton Follies to the Wharton Business Plan  Competition?

Don’t wax poetic on a 30,000 foot level about the importance of engagement or contribution. Discuss a few specific ways that you intend to contribute at Wharton’s learning community.

 Reapplicant Essay. All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

The key part of this question is the update part. Don’t ignore reflection on your previous decision, but focus on the new and improved you. For more suggestions for your reapplication, please see MBA Reapplication 101

Optional Esssay. If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)

Why isn’t your current boss writing your recommendation? Why is there a eight-month gap between your first and second job? Why did your grades dip during the last semester of your junior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious consulting firm, and why did you decide to go into the family business? Your optional essay can respond to any of those questions (but not all).

If you would like professional guidance with your Wharton MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Wharton MBA application. 

Wharton 2014 Application Deadlines

Application Deadline   . Decisions Released
Round 1   Oct 1, 2013 Dec 17, 2013
Round 2 Jan 7, 2014 Mar 25, 2014
Round 3 Mar 27, 2014 May 6, 2014

*To be considered for a round, you must submit a complete application by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on the day of the deadline.

Linda Abraham By , 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.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for Wharton, please provide the following information:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • Loquito123

      Hi Linda, here is a quick snapshot of my profile. I am hoping to apply to Stanford, Columbia, and Wharton Round 1 this fall
      Background – 27 yr old male, Mexican-American (moved to the US when I was 7), Spanish is my first language
      1) will have 5 years experience aug 2014. 3 years as an investment analyst/portfolio manager where I was in charge of the enitre investment selection and rebalancing process, and 2 years as a valuation analyst working for one of the biggest and best known public residential mortgage backed security REITs in the country
      2) GMAT: Total score 730. 93% verbal, 81% quant
      3)Undergrad – University of Maryland College Park, Double major Finance and Marketing, Overall GPA 3.76. Also part of the University Honors program
      4) Interned for an on campus organization called interfaith dialogue project leading discussions and creating interfaith events. Currently member of big borthers big sisters of America. Took a gap year between high school and college and lived in the middle east, volunteering, learning languages, and working as an EMT for a red cross service
      5) CFA charteholder (I noticed Wharton only lists CFA 3 on their app, which is a bit misleading since passing level 3 does not mean you are a charterholder…I assume I would just pick CFA 3 in the app?), Series 7, series 66,
      6) Post MBA goal is to someday run my own investment fund. I am very interested in helping increase the role of impact investing around the world and would really like to run my own impact investing fund.
      How do I look for the 3 schools listed? Are there any ways to leverage the CFA in the application process?

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        You have a competitive profile for your target schools and are applying appropriately. You may also want to consider Booth.

        Regarding the CFA, click the tests you passed and in the box labeled “If other, please specify,” just include CFA Charterholder.

        Listing your CFA status is intrinsically valuable. I’m not sure what you man by leveraging it.


        • Loquito123

          Thanks Linda.
          I guess what I eman by leveraging is how much schools know about the CFA process? The fact that Wharton lists it in this manner made me a bit nervous that they dont know how much work it is to get through (as there’s no such thing as a CFA 1, CFA 2, CFA 3).

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Top programs do know about the CFA and value it. Maybe they value more the test taking (and passing) than the title, but they definitely know about it. Especially finance-focused programs like Wharton.

            As matter of fact, Rotman recently announced it is waiving the GMAT requirement for applicants who have passed CFA 3. Yes it’s well known.


          • Loquito123

            I had no idea Rotman had done that. Thanks for the info and the review!

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham


            You’re most welcome. Best,

          • Loquito123

            Hi Linda, just thought I should update you. I got into Wharton, so I am thrilled! Thanks for the tips back over the summer! Happy holidays!

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Wonderful news! thanks for sharing it. I’m glad these tips helped you.

            Best wishes for the holidays and great New Year!