NYU Stern 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

NYU Stern

Your essays will need to highlight your qualities as a successful, leadership-driven, creative thinker and businessperson. For NYU Stern, you’ll want to reveal that you are a perfect fit with the program, the Stern community, and the global business world at large. Keep in mind that Stern is a place the values EQ as much as IQ.

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.

•   All written essays must be typed and submitted using the standard U.S. 8 1/2” x 11” format, double-spaced, in 12-point font.
•   Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 1 should answer all parts of the question 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.


1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Stern states explicitly that it seeks students with a “well-articulated plan to achieve their career aspirations.” 

Stern’s #1 is an MBA goals question with a couple of small twists. A and C are fairly typical of this genre, only C doesn’t ask about long-term goals.  At the heart of this question: What do you want to do after you graduate that requires an MBA and A asks why is now the right time to get it?  You should be able to answer Stern’s #1, or you shouldn’t be applying.

Another small twist occurs in B: 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. 

2. Choose Option A or Option B (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Answer the question that will best complement your answer to #1 and the rest of your application.

Option A: Your Two Paths

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.

• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

This is  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.

Option B: 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 this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay 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 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 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.

When I visited NYU Stern a few years ago, the admissions officer I met with proudly showed me several “personal expressions.” Her faves. They were incredibly creative, but much less slick than you might imagine. This past May, Stern hosted AIGAC for a day and again presented two of the videos filmed in response to this question.  They were thoughtful introductions to the applicants who created them. But neither one was super-slick or professional. Just revealing, creative, and clever.

 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.

3. Additional Information (optional)

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, even if you are a re-applicant.

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 three 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?

Application Deadlines

Deadline Initial Notification
1st Deadline          October 15, 2014 December 15, 2014
2nd Deadline November 15, 2014 February 15, 2015
3rd Deadline January 15, 2015 April 1, 2015
4th Deadline March 15, 2015 June 1, 2015

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 MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the NUY Stern MBA application. 

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs


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 NYU Stern, please provide the following info:

    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.

    • janela

      Hi Linda,

      I just want to ask for a profile assessment. I am planning to apply to NYU, UCLA and USC.

      Profile: Female, Flipino, 4.5yrs work experience

      Work Experience: In 2009, fresh out of college, I joined a local luxury retail company as a Merchandise Manager Trainee. After a year, I became a full-fledged Merchandise Manager handling the Beauty and Fragrance department (cosmetics, skincare, fragrances: all the brands are exclusively distributed by the company). My role was not solely focused on inventory management (forecasting, purchasing, etc) but I also do a bit of brand management since I was the main contact between the company and our principals from the US and Europe. Hence, I dabbled on sales analyses, forecasts, staff training, and strategy formulation (includes both in-store Marketing activities and PR). After 3 and a half years with the company, I transferred to another local retail company specializing in commercial and luxury fragrances. Because I would like to be a flexible manager who is not just adept at handling luxury products and niche market, I thought it was a good opportunity since this new company operates 20 doors all over the country as opposed to only 1 door for my previous employer.

      GMAT: I am yet to take my GMAT this coming September (1st week), but hopefully I will be able to make it to 700-720.

      College Info: I graduated from Ateneo de Manila University (one of the top universities in the Philippines) with a GPA of 3.49 (out of 4)– Honorable Mention with a degree in Management major in Communications Technology Management (consistent dean’s lister)
      I was also chosen to be 1 of the 2 Mitsubishi Motors scholars of the university based on academic merits.

      College Activities: I was fortunate to have been granted a Junior Term Abroad scholarship enabling me to study for 1 trimester in Thailand with Marketing as my major. I also held several project head posts in my course organisation in Ateneo.

      Post MBA goal: I would like to transfer from Retail Merchandising to Consumer Goods Marketing.

      Thank you in advance!


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


        You have a competitive profile for UCLA and USC and probably for NYU Stern too, especially if your GMAT ends up in the higher end of your range.

        You might be interested in this interview I had with Daria Burke.. She has similar interests and an interesting story.


    • Emil Philip

      Hi Linda,

      Please find the following information to evaluate my profile. I am planning to apply to Cornell, UCLA, NYU Stern and CMU,

      Profile: Male, Indian, 3+ years of work experience

      (1) Working in Misys Financial Software for more than 3 years.

      Multiple achievements including a promotion,5 spot awards, and the best performance rating of Role Model in all the three years.

      Currently leading a development team of 6 members.

      Gained immense knowledge in the domain of retail banking.

      Major involved in enhancing the features of the Lending module in the banking product FusionBanking Essence. My other responsibilities include sprint planning, developing the team technically and functionally, and support existing clients.

      Involved in multiple high stakes project including supporting the go-live of a bank, Cooperative bank of Kenya.

      (2) GMAT in the order taken:-

      GMAT: 690 (87%) QA: 48 (74%) VA: 36 (81%) AWA: 5.5 (81%) IR:4 (37%)

      GMAT: 700 (89%) QA: 50 (88%) VA: 34 (71%) AWA: 5 (60%) IR:7 (81%)

      GMAT: 740 (97%) QA: 49 (79%) VA: 41 (94%) AWA: 5 (60%) IR:3 (25%)

      Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Technology from National Institute of Technology, Calicut, one of the most premier institute of technology in India.
      GPA: 7.26/10.
      Graduated with First Class.
      Years of graduation:2007-2011

      At college, I was the marketing coordinator leading the marketing teams of two college level festivals.
      For the cultural festival, I brokered a sponsorship deal worth more than RS 400,000 between a sponsor and the college.
      For the technical festival, I managed a laptop fair, in association with a local laptop dealer, which provided laptops at discounted prices to the students.
      I managed to form a soccer club post work. Initially a club with only 8-10 players has now changed into a club with more than 20 members. Currently driving the club to take it into tournaments.

      (6) Take up a career in Technology Consulting. Use my knowledge gained in the banking domain to fill up gaps in the finance services sector.

      Thank you in advance!!

    • David

      Dear Linda,

      Please accept to assess my profile. I am planning to apply to NYU, Columbia and UCLA.

      In terms of experience, I have been working in private equity for the past 2.5 years in France and also have internship experience of investment banking and mining industry.

      Regarding GMAT, I took it for the first time in 2010 and obtained a (pretty low) 640 (64 Q, 74 V). But, this time, I am actually preparing it and plan to get 710-730.

      In 2012, I graduated from a French top 4 business school (msc in finance) with an average GPA of 3.5 (with a strong standard deviation though).

      Outside of work, I am involved in collecting and (sometimes) selling antiques, collectible objects and art pieces. I am also a competitive tennis player involved a Parisian selective club.

      My post-MBA goal would be to get into the strategy consulting industry and have international exposure.

      Many thanks for help.

      Yours sincerely,


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

        If you get the GMAT that you anticipate and you’ll have about 3.5 years of experience at matriculation, you would have a competitive profile for these three programs.


        • David

          Thanks a lot for your answer.

  • prateek sekhsaria

    Hello linda mam
    My name is Prateek sekhsaria
    I am from india,m24
    I dont know any thing about getting into prestigious bschool.
    I want you to evaluate my profile and tell me weather i am able to get into prestigious b school
    10th- 84%(maths 98 marks) 2007
    12th-80% 2009
    Engineering 66% 2013
    Work xp 1.6 years in consumer product industry as a post of production engg.
    I can score 620 or somthing in gmat(will take it in sept 2014)
    I dont know what is gpa n how to calculate gpa…
    I am very good in mathematics
    Will it will help me in admission?

  • PS Panwar

    Please evaluate my profile for NYU Stern- MBA with specialization in Business Analyst:
    1. Full three year work experience as Senior / Business Analyst and responsible for data analysis of world’s largest retail chain.
    2. GMAT- 690
    3. B.Tech in computer Science and engineering
    4. Soccer and Chess player, managed cultural events in School and college, member of an NGO- Youth for Seva.
    5. B. Tech in CSE then one 2 credit online certificate in Managing Big data from MIT (US)
    6. I want to start an Analytic, consultancy company and would like to run an voluntary organisation to work for preserving Tiger in Ranthambhore National Park ( India)

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

      I think NYU Stern is out of reach for you and would discourage your application. Sorry.

  • MBAaspirant

    Hi Linda,
    Could you please advise on my profile?

    1) 4 years when I join-2 years in a niche Financial Consultancy, worked with Bank Front Office teams in India and Singapore on valuation post global financial crisis
    2 years – Thomson Reuters (Singapore) – in a pre- sales role, involved in revenue generation and interacting with business stake holders focusing more on buy-side clients.Managing client expectations, proposing and designing solutions.

    2) GMAT – 740

    3) Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay, GPA -7.9/10, Bachelors in Chemical Engineering

    4) Actively Managing a small portfolio of financial assets (equity,bonds,mutual funds), earned a good return over past 2 years
    Part of Debating club, part of team organising first-ever National Debate in the institute.Won prizes in debating at college and national tournaments
    Mentored and tutored financially less capable students for preparation for IIT entrance exams

    5) Completed CFA and FRM

    6)Make a long term career in value investing.Gain some experience in asset management and later start something of my own.

    • MBAaspirant

      I am also looking to apply to Booth, Wharton, Columbia and LBS.


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


        You have a competitive profile for your target programs and are applying appropriately.

        If you’d like help with your application, please let me know.


        • MBAaspirant

          Hi Linda,
          Thanks for the encouraging words.Any of these programs I should specially focus on?

          One of my concern is that first couple of years I worked in a lesser known firm , could the lack of brand value hurt my application?

          Thanks once again for your valuable inputs.

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


            I don’t think that issue is big enough so that you shouldn’t apply. And your second job represents increased responsibility, which is what they want to see.

            I would focus on LBS and CBS because of your interest in value investing.


          • MBAspirant


            Last couple of questions – what safety schools should I look at, given my interests and profile?Anything I can work on to improve my chances?

            I will be in touch soon for help with my MBA applications.

            Thank you.

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

            I’m not sure if there “safety schools” that are strong in value investing, but check out UNC, Rochester Simon, Cornell, and Georgetown.

          • MBAaspirant

            Thank you for the evaluation.

  • MBA Aspirant

    Please provide an assessment of my profile:
    Indian female with 700 Gmat score; commerce undergad from lesser known Indian college – score 70%; 3 years experience in investment banking; targeting Booth, Stern, Wharton, Harvard. post-MBA, would like to get into private equity industry. no significant extra-curricular unfortunately.

    Thanks in advance.

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


      These programs are stretch programs for you. Your GMAT is below average for these schools. Your grade average is probably pretty average or slightly below average and you say it’s from a less known school. Your work experience is strong, but it is also very common at these programs and your competition probably has better scores and extra-curricular activity.

      You may want to consider waiting a year, improving your GMAT, moving up in banking or perhaps closer to PE, and getting involved in an extra-curricular activity if want to improve your chances at these schools.


  • Stat

    Hello Linda. I am not as far along the application process as the others. I am a physician with 2 years experience post residency and fellowship.. I am looking for a career change far removed from medicine. I would like to go into luxury retail. Produts from Farm based inputs from Africa produced by local artisans, targeting the luxury market . Have not taken the GMAT yet but did score 93% on both my usmle exams. I will be aiming for 710 if I can get it

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


      That sounds pretty far removed from residency and fellowship.

      The missing link here is how did you come up with this goal, what experiences have you had that make you feel you can accomplish it, and how do you plan to go about achieving it after your MBA. The schools, including NYU, will want to know that you don’t plan to rely on their placement centers to find you this job. They will be happy to provide guidance and perhaps help you if you intend to launch your idea as a business after graduation or if you want a first job at a luxury good company, but it’s an exotic and very specific goal. In and of itself, that makes it interesting, but it also has to be real. You will need to convince them that it’s not pie-in -the sky, but grounded in reality and your experience. you may also want to address the rather abrupt and sudden switch from medicine.

      If you can do so and you do get a 710+ GMAT you have a chance at NYU Stern and the other top schools. You may also want to consider INSEAD and HEC Paris.