Duke Fuqua 2014 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines


More info about Duke FuquaLeadership, teamwork, ethics, and a global approach to business are essential elements of the Duke Fuqua MBA, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these ideals in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by positioning yourself as an innovative leader and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work collaboratively, and shape global business. 

Three short answer questions and two essay questions must be completed before submitting your application. Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers to the following questions important in the selection process.

Candidates who applied to The Duke MBA between July 2012 and May 2013 are considered re-applicants. All re-applicants are required to complete the Re-applicant Essay in addition to the Short Answer Questions and Applicant Essays.

Applicants also have the opportunity to submit an optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances about which the Admissions Committee should be aware.

Short Answers: 

Short answer questions will allow for 250 characters only – the equivalent of about 50 words.

1. What are your short term goals, post-MBA?

State what you see yourself doing in terms of function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them.  If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that information too, but don’t say you want to work for Company X, unless Company X is sponsoring you. That’s probably too narrow.

2. What are your long term goals?

Your long term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be fuzzier and both in terms of direction and timing. But you should have them. 

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short term goals that you provided above not materialize, what alternative directions have you considered?

What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading strategy consulting firm, what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B?


1. The ‘Team Fuqua’ spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions Team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of ’25 Random Things About Yourself.’ As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these ’25 Random Things’ helps us get to know someone’s personality, their background, special talents, and more.

In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you – beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of ’25 Random Things’ about you.

(Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages, with a font size no less than 10-point.)

Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows a more creative approach. Note that the questions asks you to go “beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.  So you can list your Pez collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band or the fact that you took violin from age 6-18 or your membership in a gospel choir or your volunteer work in a hospital, needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh the list is endless. Just let it reflect you. Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends.    For more insight into this question and the  motivation behind, please read Megan Overbay’s, the Director of Admissions’, advice. I believe you will find it helpful. And very friendly.

2. When asked by your family, friends and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

(Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length, with a font size no less than 10-point. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.)

Why Duke? But you’re not talking to the admissions committee, whom you just may be a tad less than candid with. You are talking to your family, friends, and colleagues, people you know and like. At least the friends part.  The Fuqua admissions staff really wants to get to know you. Authenticity is the goal. The admissions readers want to be able to imagine you as a part of Team Fuqua — their family — as a friend or colleague. Will you be real stiff and formal? Of course not. You will be friendly in a professional way. Don’t take this as an invitation to be inappropriate, coarse, or rude. Just friendly.

What appeals to you about Duke. What about its program, culture, and professional opportunities propels you to apply and would compel you to accept an offer of admission?  Maybe address a letter to a close friend and tell her why you want to go to Duke.

Optional Essay Question:

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Essay is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.

Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could be the topic of your optional essay.

If you would like professional guidance with your Duke Fuqua 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 Duke application. 

Duke Fuqua 2014 MBA Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline Decision Notification
Early Action  September 18 2013  October 30 2013
Round 1  October 21 2013 December 20 2013
Round 2 January 6 2014 March 13 2014
Round 3 March 20 2014 May 9 2014
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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 Duke Fuqua, 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.

    • mjh5p


      Thanks for the insight into Fuqua’s essays and for your offer to evaluate profiles for Duke. My information is below:

      1) I have six total years of experience as a civil service employee of the U.S. department of defense (DoD), working in manpower analysis and program analysis. My experience is concentrated in resource management policy formulation, organizational design, and strategic planning My six years of experience is divided among three progressively more senior assignments: two years in the pentagon in the office of the Secretary of the Army, two years in Atlanta at a major Army command, and two and a half years in Germany at the organization responsible for DoD policy, engagements and activities on the African continent.

      In every assignment I have received numerous accolades and awards, the highest possible rating during every evaluation cycle, and multiple merit based promotions.

      GMAT: 730 (84% Q, 90% V), 5.5 AWA, 8 IR


      I graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from the University of Virginia. My GPA was a lowly 3.04, and unfortunately I have no compelling circumstances to report; it’s cliche, but I entered college at a young age (17) and had a difficult time adjusting and finding my interests. My junior and senior year GPAs did improve (3.31 cumulative), and I made the Dean’s list two of my last four semesters.

      An additional note: I studied abroad in Spain for a semester, returning to teach English after graduation.

      4) Extracurriculars/Additional Info:

      I am very involved in two sizable professional associations, the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) and the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

      I serve as local chapter president for ASMC, leading a half dozen other board members in organizing volunteer activities, soliciting speakers, and planing monthly networking luncheons on behalf of our 120 active members. I’ve also been a board member and vice president since 2009. An essay I wrote won an national award and was published in the organization’s magazine

      With AGA, I serve as the European chair of the International Development Committee. I am leading efforts to establish AGA’s first European chapter, initiating social media communication platforms and facilitating web-based training opportunities for European AGA members

      5) These certifications aren’t necessarily widely known, but I hold two key credentials in my industry: certified defense financial manager w/
      acquisition qualifier (CDFM-A) and certified government financial manager (CGFM).

      6) Goals: In the short term, I hope to utilize an MBA to transition to public/social sector consulting. My long term plans include a return to public service, hopefully in an executive capacity, with a platform focused on creating better decision support tools, improving data transparency, and implementing overhauled talent management and recruiting practices.

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

        You’re right that your GPA is your Achilles heel. Everything else is impressive. Given your GMAT, the upward trend in grades, certifications, work experience, professional growth, and leadership roles, and professional organizations, I think you have a competitive profile at Duke and are applying appropriately to include Duke on your list of target schools.


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

    Thanks for the feedback, Himanshu!

    A couple of questions:
    1. What was your percentage if you were not on a 4.0 scale in college?
    2. Are you currently working in Europe or are you working in India for the semi-conductor giant?


    • Himanshu

      Hi Linda
      1. College Percentage is close to 70 percent.
      2. I am currently working in India. I have international exposure, working in France. Also my activities include working with French and Italian teams only. The Company is ST Microelectronics.


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


        Your grades are a little below average for Duke, but everything else is competitive and strong and you are applying appropriately if you include Duke on your list of schools.