Wharton 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out our Wharton b-school zone! After several years of change and shrinkage, Wharton is keeping its essays unchanged this year.

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

The Admissions Committee wants to get 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.

First-time applicants and reapplicants are required to complete the same set of essay questions.


1. What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

What do you want to do personally and professionally that you can’t do now and that a Wharton MBA will help you do? What do you hope to learn? Note the question is not just asking what you want to do after you graduate, and it’s not asking for exclusively professional aspirations. It is giving you the option to dream a bit and tell Wharton those dreams.

As with most MBA goals questions, Wharton still wants to see how you connect your Wharton education 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?

2. Optional Essay: Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy. (400 words)

You can use the optional essay to explain or provide context for decision you have made or events in your life. For example:

• Why isn’t your current boss writing your recommendation?

• Why is there an 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).

Or you can use your optional essay to highlight something in your experiences, background, personal or professional life that didn’t fit into the required essay and that you want the admissions committee to know about. You can discuss a diversity element, a unique area of interest or an accomplishment that you don’t feel is adequately described elsewhere.

Don’t use it as a grand summary of you application or reasons for wanting Wharton. Make sure it adds value.

Reapplicant Essay:

All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete this essay. Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

All applicants, including reapplicants can 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.

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 2016 Application Deadlines:

Check out our other school-specific MBA Essay Tips

*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.

Register to learn how to get accepted to Wharton!


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.

Related Resources:

Wharton Zone Page
• School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
• Meet Ashley: A Wharton MBA Student Making an Impact

  • Chris Zhao

    Hi Linda,

    Would you mind giving me some tips on my target schools and application ?

    1) 3 years in shipping industry, a very niche industry which is non-typical for MBA.
    Specifically, 1 year in MNC (world’s top 4 in the industry) based in Hong Kong, function as Marketing;
    2 years in Chinese State-owned-enterprise (top 2 in China’s shipping & logistics industry), based in Hong Kong and Singapore. Management Trainee with various rotations, promotion within 9 months, star performer.
    (Remark: my concern is 3 years w/e is relatively short, compared to the 5 years w/e average)

    2) GMAT 760, V41, Q51, AW 4.5, IR 8

    3) Education:
    Undergraduate, Shanghai Maritime University (top 2 in China’s maritime education), 3.87/4/0 (top 1 out of 172), major in shipping management, graduation in 2011.
    Master, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (top in Asia’s maritime education), 3.92/4.0 (top 1 out of 40), major in international shipping & transport logistics, graduation in 2013.
    (Remark: although my universities are the best in my industry, they are less well-known if compared to more comprehensive universities)

    4) Extra-curricular activities:
    President of college club during undergraduate;
    Representative of Hong Kong maritime industry in various events;
    Helper in industry society.

    5) Just written CFA level III in this June.
    Member of Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, UK

    6) Post-MBA goal.
    Medium-to-long term career goal is to join an investment fund with transportation / energy portfolio. Big names in this area such as Oaktree Capital, KKR, Apollo, and Carlyle.

    I understand buy-side is very difficult for a fresh MBA graduate. So my immediate post-MBA goal is to join corporate banks / i-banks covering transportation / energy sectors. To name some of them, corporate banks: BNP Paribas, HSBC, Deutsche bank, Bank of America etc / IB: Jefferies and surely Bulge brackets etc.

    I understand it is not easy for me at this moment and have tried my best to close the gap to my career goals, say study the CFA program and join a company with strong connection with transportation banks and institutional investors. I am not sure if my current background + a MBA will help me to realize the goals I think very difficult to touch today.

    Target schools:
    US: Wharton (stretch and long shot ?), Johnson, and Anderson
    Asia: Ceibs and HKUST
    Europe: Insead (long shot ?)

    Many thanks in advance for your kind help and comments.


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


      If you can show leadership, initiative, and impact, I don’t think the three years wll be an issue, especially if you mean three years until today as opposed to when you hope to matriculate. A little less than average work experience is not a deal breaker as long as you can show that you were a contributor and were given responsibility which you handled well.

      IN the U.S. I would also encourage you to apply to Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and CBS.

      You have a competitive profile for INSEAD and should also consider LBS. It has wonderful ties to banking.

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

      • Chris Zhao

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks very much for your nice tips. Very helpful and appreciated.

        Sorry that the mentioned 3 years work experience is until when I hope to matriculate. Concur with you that lower than average may not be a deal breaker as long as I can show the contribution and well handled responsibility. Just wonder if re-applicants will be disadvantaged ? I mean in case of any negative outcome this year, I will keep trying in next year but not very sure if there will be any disadvantage as a re-applicant because of the not so good first impression.

        Thank you and have a wonderful day.

        Kind regards,

  • ItaMBA

    Hi Linda,

    would be great if you could give me an idea of whether i stand a chance with the likes of HBS, Stanford, Wharton.
    1) 4 years experience in a tier 1 bank (Citi/JP) in sales and trading. Progressed from grad, to analyst to associate, and am up for early promotion to VP in january of next year. joined straight out of university.
    2)770 in the Gmat
    3) Undergaduate in maths from Imperial college (ranked 3rd in the year out of over 200 students). Masters in maths from cambridge with distinction
    4) no significant hobbies (like to read and travel, but nothing particularly outstanding)
    5)no certificates that would be applicable
    6)would like to work in fin tech or do my own fin tech startup
    ps. im a european girl!

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


      You have a competitive profile for these schools — a very impressive one at that — and being a European woman will help, but I would like to see something that makes you stand out other than your stellar academics and professional progression. It may be your travel experiences… But you do have a competitive profile for your target programs.

      You may also want to consider Haas, MIT, CBS, and NYU Stern.

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

  • Guest

    Hi Linda,

    I would really appreciate a profile evaluation, if you had the time to provide your opinion.

    1) KPMG for almost 4 years at time of application, approximately 3.5 in Audit, and transferred to Financial Due Diligence effective May 1, 2015.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    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.

    • Guest

      Apologies, accidentally put through the post before completing.

      1) Big Four accounting firm for almost 4 years at time of application, approximately 3.5 in
      Audit, and transferred to Financial Due Diligence effective May, 2015.
      2) 720 – V: 91%, Q: 79%, 5.5 AWA, 8 IR
      3) Syracuse University, undergrad in accounting in 3 years with 3.48 GPA, MS Accounting with 3.33 GPA.
      4) Founded student section organization and philanthropic arm in college. Was also the section leader of the drumline in the marching band. Post-college, I have been involved in a mentoring program, assisting a young man apply to and enroll in education after high school, as well as an organization that raises money for children with disabilities to attend summer camp.
      5) CPA – passed all four parts on first try in 6 months
      6) MBB consulting firm in the short term, long-term goal is to end up in financial leadership of a consumer goods company (VP of Finance or CFO)

      • Guest

        I am planning on applying to HBS, Sloan, Wharton, Tuck, NYU, Columbia, and Yale.

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


          Your stats, except for your grad GPA, are competitive at your target programs. I’m somewhat concerned that your work experience and community service are not going to help you stand out. You didn’t write much about noteworthy achievements or leadership, which is OK as long as you have them. Make sure to include them in your app; they will enhance your competitiveness.


          • Guest

            Thank you for your evaluation, Linda, I appreciate your time.

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

            you’re most welcome.

          • Guest


            Would you recommend utilizing the optional essay to attempt to explain the lower graduate GPA?

            Additionally, please note that the fall and spring GPAs for the last year of undergrad (done in three years) were 3.375 and 3.246, respectively. Therefore GPA was somewhat down-trending towards the end, as a result of trying to complete undergrad in 3 years and extracurriculars, not to mention being a 21 year old taking masters classes in that grad year.

            Thank you again for your assistance.

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

            Yes. You can use the optional to provide context for the grade issues, but “too many extra-curriculars” combined with a heavy class load including graduate level classes may just translate into “poor time management.” Don’t make excuses, and do take responsibility if you feel that you made some errors at that time.

  • Al

    Hi Linda,

    I am looking to apply this fall and would love your take on my profile.

    1. 2 years at application. 3 years at time of matriculation. Big 4 Advisory Consultant. Promoted to Senior this Summer. Have led various teams/given a great deal of responsibility for my time with the firm compared to usual progression.
    2. 740 GMAT-97th percentile. 80 percentile Math and 95th percentile Verbal
    3. Decent State school in NYS, BS Accounting 2012- 3.73 GPA. I failed a 1 credit class first semester(unable to retake) and had a 3.1 GPA. Should I address?
    MS in Accounting 2013- 3.63
    4. Involved with a mentorship organization over the past year. Met weekly to mentor high school students from economically disadvantaged areas. In addition, am involved in the recruiting of other mentors and also the interviewing of mentees.
    5. CPA. Very high marks and passed all exams on first try. Does this matter?
    6. Want to get into consulting at MBB

    Additional info- I am an African American Male.

    I want to apply to HSW(Are these out of reach?). Also Tuck and Stern through the consortium. Is there another M7 school that you think would be a safer choose for me? Its really important to me that I get in somewhere this application cycle.

    Much thanks for the time Linda!

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


      You’re welcome.

      I don’t think those schools are out of reach, but they are tough schools. Given your goals, also consider Kellogg. If you’re willing to look outside of the “M7″ and focus more on programs that tend to send a lot of grads to MBB, consider Duke, Ross, and Darden.

      Yes, do provide (briefly) context about the F.

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