USC Marshall 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

All you need to know about USC Marshall

USC Marshall School of Business

On one hand, the new USC Marshall MBA essay question is very focused: goals, why Marshall.  There is a little twist, however, which gives the question an intriguing complexity: personal and/or professional goals…  What does this twist say about Marshall?  That the adcom trusts you to frame your goals in the most meaningful way, and to reveal or not reveal personal considerations and plans as you see fit. Knowing yourself – what you want and need and why, and knowing how to present and share what’s important about you will be keys to contributing to Marshall’s collaborative community and making productive use of Marshall’s flexible program. In this one essay, convey that knowledge.

Required Essay: What are your short-term and long-term personal and/or professional goals following graduation from USC Marshall? How will USC Marshall enable you to develop or improve your skills in order to reach your goals? (500-700 words)

Most people will want to address professional goals in this essay, and I suggest doing so.  As far as personal goals, there is no one formula that works for everyone; some may address this point extensively, and some not at all – and both approaches may be exactly right for those particular applicants.  That said, there is not necessarily a solid line between personal and professional goals, and so if you address (a) how you intend your career to develop and (b) how you want to grow through the MBA experience, that will likely be just fine, and you needn’t worry about personal versus professional.  

The key is to be specific about whatever goals you do discuss.  Clarify why the goal is important to you, and give some concrete and practical expression of what achieving it will look like.  Don’t forget to discuss both short- and long-term goals, and for the former, for professional goals be specific about industry, function, type of company, perhaps geography.

In explaining how USC Marshall will facilitate these goals, cite particular qualities and aspects of the program that address your learning and growth needs, and/or your academic or professional interests.  Rather than citing 10 things you like about the program, focus on the top 2-4 in some depth, with thoughtful insight about their applicability to you.

Optional essay: Please provide any additional information that you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (250 words)

This question invites you to both discuss points that will enhance your application and explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, etc.). For the former, if you ask the adcom to read additional material, make sure that it truly illuminates and is germane to your candidacy.  It should not be something that is just nice for the adcom to know.  

Re-application Essay: Please describe any significant professional, personal, or academic growth since your last application to the USC Marshall School of Business. Discuss your specific professional goals and how the USC Marshall Full-Time Program will help you achieve these goals. (500 words)

The key to a successful reapplication is to show growth and that’s the job of this essay. At least one of the growth points you present should be professional – there are the obvious things like a promotion or a new project to lead, and less obvious things like new industry or functional exposure, informal leadership, a challenge or problem that “stretched” your skills and perspective. In describing goals, if they’ve changed from the previous application, note why.

USC Marshall Deadine





Want more school specific MBA application essay tips? Click here!

 Cindy TokumitsuCindy Tokumitsu is the author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and admissions guides, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Related Resources:

How to Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats
4 Goals of an MBA Application
Why Do YOU Need an MBA?

Purdue Krannert 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

More advice for writing about your MBA goals.

Purdue Krannert

First, the statement of purpose will introduce you to Krannert –it is in essence a classic goals essay. Then you must address an issue clearly of high interest to Krannert in the required essay: integrity.  That essay will illuminate not only what you think about integrity, but also your thought process itself.  The key to making these very different essays work together is to create a synergy between them – i.e., the experiences and plans you portray in the statement of purpose will form a vivid foundation for the thoughts, examples, and ideas you discuss in the required essay.  


Statement of Purpose – Please submit a statement introducing yourself to the admissions committee.  (500 words max)

Some topics you may wish to discuss include:

a.  Brief academic and professional background

b.  Reason for seeking an MBA or Master’s degree at Purdue

c.  Desired career path after graduation

d.  Your thoughts on giving back as a student and as an alumnus

This question doesn’t technically require you to discuss the a-b-c-d points.  But if the adcom mentions them, you can be sure the adcom is interested in them.  So you can’t go wrong in addressing these points, even if you weave in something else as well. 

A natural and effective approach is to portray aspects of your experience (educational and/or professional) that animate your goals, and then elaborate on your goals.  Use your response to point “b” to demonstrate understanding of the program.  Point “d” gives you an opportunity to present distinctive experiences, including ones that may not necessarily relate to your goals, but that will enable you to enhance and invigorate your MBA class.

Required essay: Integrity – What does integrity mean to you? How does integrity relate to building communities of trust in academic, personal and professional settings? What expectations should Purdue have towards its students with regards to academic integrity? What consequences should students who do not uphold these standards face? (500 words max)

This is really four questions (each one of which could use more than 500 words!).  Your answer to the first question, what integrity means to you, will shape the essay and guide your responses to the subsequent questions.  Answer this initial question with a succinct definition and illustrate it with a concrete example showing what integrity means to you and why.  Address the subsequent questions in a way consistent with  your initial definition, adding further brief examples as warranted.  In the part about Purdue’s expectations, weave in specific details of Purdue’s program structure or approach.

Optional essay  – If you feel there are any parts of your application that require additional explanation, or if there is any additional information you wish to share with the admissions committee, please use this optional essay as an opportunity to do so. (250 words max)

This question invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not direct supervisor, a bad grade, etc.) – and also to present new material that will enhance your application.  If you choose to do the latter, make sure it’s a point that is essential for a clear and full picture of your candidacy.

Remaining Deadlines:

If you would like professional guidance with your Purdue Krannert 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 Purdue application.

Tip for answering the MBA goals essay
Cindy TokumitsuBy , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with

MIT Sloan Fellows 2015 Essay Tips

MIT Campus

Your three MIT Sloan Fellows essays must collectively convey the unmistakable message that you surpass your peers through consistently outstanding impact, and that you are destined to become a leader in your company and even industry.  Simultaneously, the essays must convey fit with MIT Sloan’s enduring emphasis on being an innovative leader and agent of change.  Use the three essays to present different aspects of your accomplishments and your character, to show that you envision and drive change, and to portray your rightful place in the “global leadership community.”


Statement of Objectives: What are your immediate (1 – 5 years) and ultimate (>15 years) professional objectives for attending the program? Specifically, please indicate your objectives and how they fit with the purposes of the MIT Sloan Fellows Program. How would your unique background contribute to the diversity of the Sloan Fellows community? (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Let’s break this question into its three parts:  

First, your professional objectives.  Be specific about position, company/industry, expected scope of responsibilities, and vision for what you want to accomplish. Give more detail for the 1-5 year segment.  For the longer term goals, show direction – but not as detailed.

Second, your objectives’ fit with the program.  Identify and describe specific aspects of your objectives that align with the values and purposes of the program.  Focus on the 2-3 key elements of this fit – fewer, with thoughtful discussion, is far better than a “laundry list” of fit points.

Third, your potential contributions to the community.  Again, focus on the 2-3 key aspects.  “Unique background” certainly could refer to professional background, and it can also include other relevant, interesting experiences if they represent a potential contribution, such as intimate knowledge of a poorly represented geographic region.  This section can be tricky – interesting facts alone don’t show potential contribution; you need to add your insight to make it meaningful.

Essay 1: Discuss an event in your life that has defined who you are today. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

This question essentially asks for a story.  Also, note “event” – it can cover a big range, from personal or family events, to large, geopolitical events (unfortunately, war comes to mind). Balance the “interest factor” with the actual influence on you – while it’s great to have an inherently intriguing topic, the point of the essay is not the drama or rarity of the event; rather it is (a) the influence of the event on you and (b) your perception of that influence, and of how you responded and grew.  MIT has always had an interest in your self-understanding and your responsiveness, and this essay continues that trend.

With only 500 words, don’t waste any on a “conventional” intro that gives the ending away. First tell the story, then add a paragraph reflecting on why and how the event was formative.

Essay 2: Tell us about a personal or professional decision in which you took a minority perspective in a group and what did you learn about yourself from this experience. (500 words or less, limited to one page)

Another story; follow the above suggested format and structure.

Since the first essay will likely involve a somewhat older event, I suggest using a recent story for this essay, to make the essay do “double duty” strategically by also showing you performing in a high-stakes, challenging situation. Whether or not you win over the group to your view is not important for this essay.  Rather, the quality of your evaluation of your effort – how insightful, frank, and nuanced it is – will matter a lot.  It won’t hurt to briefly mention how you’ve since then applied the learning as well.  

Second deadline: January 5, 2015

Give Your MBA Application that Final Check!Cindy TokumitsuBy 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!

Related Resources:

A Transformational Year: The MIT Sloan Fellows Program
MIT EMBA 2015 Essay Tips
Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right

NYU Stern Langone 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here to learn more about NYU Stern!The Stern Langone part-time MBA essays, together, require you truly to “know thyself” — i.e., know yourself so well that you can zero right in on the essence of who you are and where you’re going without background explanation or elaborate contextualization. All the essays require one common quality, albeit in different ways: confidence. It takes confidence to assert your goals without a lot of backstory; to assert crisply your reason for a key decision – why you’re doing a part-time MBA; and to assert a core dimension of who you are as a unique and distinctive human being.

My tips are in blue below.

Basic Instructions: Please adhere to the essay word limits provided for each question. Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 2 should answer both part (a) and part (b) with a maximum of 250 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, 1982, Essay 1, Page 1)


1. Professional Aspirations (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
What are your short and long-term career goals?

First, don’t even think about how to get everything you want into this MBA essay.  You can’t. Rather, ask yourself, “What are the few, key points I must have in this essay to both answer the question effectively and stand out?”  First, you need the details of your short- and long-term goals: positions and titles, company, industry, a sample of likely responsibilities you’ll hold.  Beyond that, to make the essay compelling, in one or two sentences convey your vision for your goals (the broader impact you’ll have) and your motivation for your goals – these elements are often intertwined.

One way you can fit in pertinent career information is to start the essay with your current position and weave it into your short-term goals.  After all, you will have goals within your current position while you’re earning your MBA – it doesn’t require a promotion or change of position to have a goal.

A simple structure works best: the first paragraph covering your short-term goals (possibly starting with where you are now); second paragraph long-term goals.  With this short essay you don’t need intro and concluding paragraphs, intro and concluding sentences will do.

2. Fit with Stern (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

(a) Why have you chosen to pursue your MBA on a part-time basis?
(b) Earlier in your application, you indicated your Langone program preferences in rank order from among the choices below. Please explain your preferences.

• Manhattan – Weeknights

• Manhattan – Weekends

• Westchester – Weeknights

I suggest more depth and content for part A, and a straightforward, factual explanation for part B.

Part A probes your decision-making regarding the part-time option. The adcom wants to know that the reasons are affirmative and that the part-time program is your program of choice. This section also gives you a chance to further elaborate on your current work and its distinguishing aspects – presumably one reason you are pursuing the part-time program is because you are engaged in your work. In this section, focus on the key 2-3 reasons for a part-time MBA and discuss each briefly but thoughtfully. Don’t worry about having “unique” reasons – it’s your specific work and the insights you’ll bring from it that are unique. Caution: state positive, affirmative reasons; avoid reasons like can’t afford a full-time MBA, afraid to leave job, can’t get into a top-tier full-time program, etc. Positive reasons include wanting to stay in fascinating job/industry, excitement about applying learning in real-time, valuing studying alongside peers who are immersed in diverse industries and functions, etc.

Part B should be short and sweet; a couple of sentences will suffice, simply explaining in concrete, practical terms why you are choosing the particular program.

3. 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 will submit Essay 3 via mail, please provide a brief description of your submission and its relevance to your MBA application.

Please note the following guidelines and restrictions: 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 submit a non-written piece (i.e., artwork or multimedia), please provide a brief written description of your submission and its relevance to your MBA application.

If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. Please do not submit a link to a webpage.

Please note that mailed Essay 3 packages are subject to size restrictions [see website]. Submissions that exceed the stated size restrictions will not be accepted for review by the Admissions Committee.

First, a comment about “feel free to be creative”: don’t strain to do something you think represents “creative” if it doesn’t flow naturally. Plenty, perhaps most, of admitted applicants write an essay. If you are inspired and have a great idea, fine, go with it. If not, write the absolute best essay you can. The key here is to help the adcom get to know you in ways that are relevant to Langone, that distinguish you, and that reflect your life beyond your job in some way. Langone, and more broadly NYU, relish involvement with the community, intellectual and/or artistic engagement, a sharp ability to self-reflect on one’s life and circumstances, a willingness to assert and/or question one’s values, a willingness and ability to ask questions that you don’t have answers to… There are many inviting avenues to consider in selecting a topic for this essay – and that selection is the key to hitting a home run with it. There really isn’t a formula. I have seen successful essays that focus solely on the applicant’s passionate hobby, that discuss some aspect of one’s family life, one’s regional culture, one’s religious or political evolution… And I’ve also seen successful essays that discuss a couple of things. With the 500-word limit, you can’t really do justice to more than two points though.

Don’t worry about discussing things that are “impressive” or about finding things that are unusual – this essay’s effectiveness rests on how vividly you present your topic(s), how you personalize it with anecdote and detail. A discussion about something as common as cooking or learning a language or playing basketball can become a memorable statement if done vividly with stories and experiences.

4. 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, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from a current supervisor, you must explain your reason in this essay, 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.

This doesn’t explicitly limit the essay to extenuating circumstances or application-specific issues, but the topics it suggests are such issues. Moreover the phrase “bring to the attention of” doesn’t really invite you to continue marketing yourself with any new material that you think might enhance your application. I therefore suggest addressing the types of issues the question presents, or other information that has a direct bearing on the adcom’s ability to understand your candidacy. There is no word limit, but given the other word limits, keeping it short will align with the other essays.

Application Deadlines for the Part-time MBA Program:

To receive an initial notification by the date below, your application must be submitted online by 11:59 PM U.S. Eastern Time on the day of the deadline, and any mailed materials must be postmarked by the deadline date.

Fall  Spring 
Application Due: May 15* September 15*
Initial Notification By: August 1 December 1
Initial notifications: offer of admission, interview invitation, waitlist offer or denial of admission




*After the deadlines, applications are accepted on a rolling basis until August 1 for Fall and December 1 for Spring.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Related Resources:

• An Artist at B-School: Interview with an NYU Stern Langone Student
Tips for Applying to Part-Time MBA Programs
• MBA Admissions Decisions: Should You Go Full-Time or Part-Time?

UVA Darden Executive MBA Essay Tip 2015

Click here to learn more about what Darden has to offer!Given that the Darden EMBA application presents only one essay question to answer, the balance of your application – the online form, the resume, the recommendations, the interview – all carry more weight than they do in most EMBA applications that contain several questions (usually including one pertaining to your goals).  The Darden EMBA application as a whole must show that you are at the appropriate level organizationally and have sufficient quantity and quality of experience to both benefit from the Darden EMBA and contribute substantially as a student and classmate.  Moreover, to be competitive you should also show that you are a high performer relative to peers.  This essay is a precious opportunity to give the adcom insight into you as an individual that will complement, enhance, and illuminate the other factual information in the application.


Describe the most courageous professional decision you have made or most courageous action you have taken at work. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words maximum)

“The most.”  This superlative requires that the decision or action you choose to describe be truly significant – to you to others, to the organization.  Big stakes.  “Courageous” – why this specific value out of all the possible ones?  Because the adcom is interested not just in what you did or decided, but in your perception of what is important and your values.  A recent story would be preferable, but if you need to go with an older story, in the reflection section show how it influences you to this day and give an example.  If you have several potential stories to possibly use, since there is only one essay, select the topic strategically, to best showcase elements of your experience that are not elaborated elsewhere and are impressive and/or distinctive. 

Devote most of the essay to telling the story.  Conclude with the reflection about what you learned.  This learning should be meaningful and insightful – an effective discussion of the learning will show your ability to grow and to synthesize experience.

Have our MBA admissions experts critique your Darden application!

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , 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!