The Kellogg Executive MBA questions are among the most comprehensive, thorough, and numerous of any EMBA application. It takes significant effort to put together a strong set of Kellogg EMBA essays, and that fact weeds out potential students who are not seriously interested in this competitive program. Moreover, the questions encompass almost every basic type: goals, behavioral (the experience and your reflection on it), evaluative (greatest skills and talents). It offers more than one optional essay. This set of essays requires the writer to wear different hats and excel at different types of self-analysis. Not least, the messages and contents of the essays should be coordinated to strategically and holistically create a picture of you that is vivid, distinguishing, and multifaceted without being contradictory or jumbled. Note that there are no word limits, therefore use your judgment; don’t write all 1,000 word essays. Depending on the question and what you have to say, 400-750 is a good range to target.
JOB DESCRIPTION: Describe the unit for which you are responsible and relate it to the total organization in terms of size, scope, and autonomy of responsibility. What human resources, budget, and capital investment are you responsible for? Please describe your position.
A straightforward question – it contains several components, so be sure to answer all of them. Try to work in an anecdote or two somewhere, for example, if part of your role is to troubleshoot issues with global clients, give a brief example.
1. Why have you elected to apply to the Kellogg School Executive MBA Program?
This essay should discuss your interest in the Kellogg program as a means to acquire the learning you seek in light of your goals. Clarify why you are pursuing the executive program specifically. You can also discuss other benefits that relate to personal preferences such as environment and the program’s schedule, structure, and location. Be specific and add thoughtful discussion, don’t just reiterate points from the website. If possible, cite conversations with students or alumni, including relevant insights you’ve gained from them.
2. What are your goals and objectives and how will a Kellogg Executive MBA help you achieve these? Please feel free to discuss both personal and professional goals.
Discuss your goals in specific terms: industry, likely positions, which company or companies, possibly where, what you expect to do, possibly challenges you anticipate. Also discuss what you want to accomplish short- and long-term. To make the essay truly compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the learning needs these goals engender and summarize how the Kellogg MBA meets them, saving the greater detail for essay 1.
3. Discuss a professional situation that did not end successfully. Why did you or your peers consider the situation to have negative results? How did you resolve the situation? Did it change your management style? If so, how?
In selecting the story to discuss, use something relatively recent (even though unsuccessful, it can still show you at work in an engaging context and at a decision making level with high accountability), and something substantive. Be frank about your role as it may have contributed to the lack of success. For structure, keep it simple: first tell the story, and then address the remaining questions. The last part, about how it may have changed your management style, is a good opportunity to show you’ve not only learned from the experience but applied the learning, by briefly citing a specific example of your improved management style.
4. What do you consider to be your greatest skills and talents? How will you use these to contribute to an Executive MBA class as well as to a study group?
First, what not to do: strain to find some unique skill or talent that no one else possesses in an effort to differentiate yourself. It doesn’t exist. Rather, look inward – whether it’s creativity, initiative, leadership, strategic thinking, interpersonal astuteness, analytic capability, mentoring/coaching – it’s the details and stories of how you manifest this quality that will make this essay exciting while strategically supporting and enhancing the other essays. Select 2-3 skills/talents that differ from each other (i.e., don’t do quant skills and analytic skills, or communication skills and interpersonal skills) and tell a quick story or anecdote illustrating each. Finally, for each, comment on how it will help you contribute by giving an example – these comments can be short, as they story itself will really convey how the skill or talent will let you contribute.
5. Optional: Describe how your relevant global experiences have influenced you professionally.
This is a great essay for most people to answer – if you’ve had any global experience, it can only have influenced you professionally. If you’ve had a lot of global experiences, don’t just do a survey of them and don’t feel you must write about all of them. Select the most meaningful experiences and tell the stories, and then explaining the influence on you.
6. Optional: Is there anything else that you would like to add to help us in evaluating your candidacy?
This question invites you to present new material that you think will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment). As far as non-necessary points, keep in mind that if you are making the adcom read more, there should be a clear value to the information. Finally, considering the many essays, keep it short.
7. Optional: Describe any major reports, instructional materials, or manuals that you have prepared or any research, inventions, or other creative work.
Note, “major.” Do not wrack your brain for every report or training material you’ve contributed to. If you have numerous patents, ditto. Focus on the most important ones of whatever type of material you are describing. A nice format is an annotated bullet list.
8. Optional: Please list the business/professional/community organizations in which you are active.
Note “are active.” Not “were active.”
* While applications are accepted on a rolling basis, we encourage you to apply early to the program. Why? Each class has a limited number of seats — and if you apply after a class is filled, your application will be moved to the next admissions cycle.
If you would like professional guidance with your Northwestern Kellogg EMBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Package, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Kellogg EMBA application.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!