NYU Stern 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

NYU SternLast year Stern gave you a choice for its second question. This year all three questions are required and what I call Stern’s “signature question” (#2) is once again required.

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 that values EQ as much as IQ.

At Accepted, we have advised clients successfully through the NYU Stern application process for approximately twenty years. We would be happy to help you you too. Please explore our services to see how we can guide you.

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, 1988, 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.  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. NYU Stern accepts most common video formats.
• 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”

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 media 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. A year ago, 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?

NYU Stern 2016 Application Deadlines:

Deadline Initial Notification
1st Deadline          October 15, 2015 December 15, 2015
2nd Deadline November 15, 2015 February 15, 2016
3rd Deadline January 15, 2016 April 1, 2016
4th Deadline March 15, 2016 June 1, 2016

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 NYU Stern MBA application. 


Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One - Download your copy today!


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:

More School Specific Essay Tips
Tips For Video MBA Essay Questions
• Exploring the Part-Time MBA Options at NYU Stern

  • Roon

    Hi Linda,

    I was glad to see that you are doing the profile evaluations. I am very interested in the full-time MBA programs at Wharton, Booth, Tuck, Stern, Darden and Kenan-Flagler. An overview of my profile is as below:

    – Indian male engineer (US permanent resident)
    – GMAT: 700 (Q47, V 39)
    – Undergraduate education: Mechanical Engineering from India. School does not provide a GPA. I have a First class distinction (Summa cum Laude equivalent).
    – Graduate education: PhD in Mechanical Engineering from US university. GPA 3.83. Dean’s list. Published research in scientific journals. Spoke at international conferences. 1 Patent pending.
    – Work Experience: 3 years (till date) in the largest semiconductor manufacturing company. Won 4 distinguished employee awards including the highest award given in the business unit. Interviewed PhD candidates for internships and full-time jobs. Mentored new employees.
    – Professional volunteer activities: Helped organize 4 international engineering conferences.
    – Certifications: Passed CFA Level 1
    – Other activities: Managing personal investment portfolio for 1 year
    – Post-MBA goals: Equity research and portfolio management

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to evaluate my profile. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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


      Your academic background is excellent. Your GMAT for an Indian engineer applying to most of your target schools is on the low side. Have you considered a retake?

      Your work experience is good, but nothing your wrote is a “wow” to me. You may have it, but it’s not your comment, and that’s OK. If you have, make sure it comes through.

      With your current score, while you have a chance at all your target programs, UNC and Darden are the most likely admits.


  • monika pratiwi

    Hi Linda, kindly find my profile below. I would like to apply to NYU Stern, Kellogg, and Wharton.

    Female, 25yrs, Indonesian.

    1) I joined a growing Private Equity in Asia as an intern for 4 months after graduating from college. Then I worked as a Management Trainee at The Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi UFJ. After 1.5 years of training, I graduated and became Assistant Relationship Manager for Multinational Company clients such Ford, Unilever, Mercedes Benz, etc. 6 months later I was transferred and promoted to become Relationship Manager in Financial Institution Department. My clients are banks, insurance company, and multi finance. During my second month, I successfully unlocked a long awaited deal that was used to be rejected. It is a syndicated loan deal for multi finance, a deal that was not my company’s main appetite.

    2) GMAT: 680 (Q 47, V 36)

    3) University of Indonesia (the first rank in Indonesia), majoring in Accounting, 3.5 years of study (graduated in 2013), 3.44 GPA.

    4) I was an exchange student with full scholarship to the States when I was in high school. In college life, I was an active member of Leadership Organization called AIESED. My role in AIESEC was Manager Expansion to expand AIESEC community in Indonesia, and also Committee President for HIV AIDS project.

    5) –

    6) I would to accelerate my career in banking or work in Private Equity. Several years later I intend to establish rural banks in Indonesia.

  • Kovid Oli

    Hey Linda,

    I am Indian, Male,25.

    GMAT-730( Q-50, V-38)
    Percentage-71%(top 15% in my batch)

    I am an engineer. while engineering, I worked with quiet a few social organizations. Organized many social awareness campaigns.Also, I was the head of the student management committee, which organizes most of the cultural and technical fests.

    Now, I am a social entrepreneur.

    I worked with a National NGO as its north India coordinator for 4 years.

    I am Secretary of an NGO. We are working on some sustainable development projects. Also I have started my own venture on social tourism and on tour and travel management. Total work experience is around 4&1/2 years.

    Please tell me about my chances for NYU and other good universities.


    Kovid Oli

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

    What do you want to do with your MBA?