These essay questions show that MIT seeks applicants who have the judgment and practical skills to take on the challenges that will fly at them as they re-define industries and functions. It admits applicants who push the boundary of what’s possible and exercise “principled leadership” in a torrent of change.
The essays (including Statement of Purpose) are your main means to show that you possess, as MIT’s website states, “strong leadership performance, global perspective, functional expertise, and innovation.” While the statement of purpose challenges you to succinctly create your portrait as an applicant, the three essay questions, each in its own way, probe how your perception and thinking lead to specific impacts and outcomes.
In an overall plan for the essays, the statement of purpose works as a context, a positioner, an opening pitch, a frame. You will describe specific experiences in each of the three essays, so strategically try to select experiences that show different aspects of you and your background to give a comprehensive view. Also, it’s advisable to discuss recent experiences in at least 1-2 of the essays, to allow the adcom to see you working at a high level and to show what you’ll bring to the table.
Statement of Purpose
Please provide a statement indicating your qualifications, why you are pursuing the MIT Executive MBA Program, and what you will contribute to the program. For reapplicants: please highlight developments since your last submission. (500 words or less, limited to one page)
This is your portrait – your candidacy at a glance. It should convey a vivid, immediate sense of you as a person and as a candidate for this program. It should go beyond just facts to present a point of view and a message. Determine your message first, before drafting the essay, and let it guide you in selecting and elaborating the content details.
Beware of a potential pitfall: in discussing qualifications, do not repeat your resume in prose format. Also, don’t present all your qualifications. Select thoughtfully, focusing on those that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the EMBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) reflect your message. Make a short, meaningful point about each qualification, such as the insight it lends or its influence on you, supported by a fact or example.
For why you are pursuing the MBA, of course you’ll discuss your professional goals and objectives. Focus not only on what you want to do, but also why — what you want to accomplish for the organization and/or its customers/market (your “vision”).
The contributions should reference your experience from work or outside work; think of what about you would be most meaningful and interesting to prospective classmates. This element of your response is an opportunity to show that you understand the program.
Question 1: The educational mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is “to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world.” Please discuss how you will contribute toward advancing this mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or less, limited to one page)
In answering this question, clarify what “principled, innovative leader” and “improving the world” mean to you. These points represent your point of view, your perspective – they should be short (sometimes even a phrase suffices), but without them this essay lacks focus. The bulk of the essay will focus on action – your examples of past work and activities that make the case for how you have been and will continue to be a principled, innovative leader who improves the world. They key to making this a gripping, memorable essay is strong experiences and examples combined with your reflection on them pertaining to the essay’s theme. End by briefly discussing how you will build on these experiences to be such a leader in the future.
Question 2: Tell us about a time when you introduced an idea that changed the way in which your organization functioned or approached a business challenge. Comment on the factors that you considered and the barriers/obstacles that you faced. (500 words or less, limited to one page)
This question requires you to combine two realms: thought (idea) and action (you introduced…). MIT Sloan seeks people who have strength in both areas – who have vision and can execute that vision.
With only 500 words, draft it straightforwardly, as a story: start with your idea and what prompted it, and then narrate your action – how you introduced the idea. Conclude with the results, clarifying the change in function or approach.
Option A: As you narrate, include and “zoom in” on factors you considered and the barriers you encountered in the process; make them part of the story. Option B: narrate the story, and then in a concluding paragraph discuss the factors you considered and the barriers/obstacles faced.
Question 3: Tell us about a time when you took a risk in your professional life. How did you make the decision and from whom did you seek advice? (500 words or less, limited to one page)
MIT always wants to know about decision making and your decision making – the thought process, not just the situation and results. Given MIT’s interest, if possible select a story that involves decision-making that is not just difficult but that includes some uncertainty or ambiguity – and also some significant stakes. MIT also values resourcefulness, which means finding out or knowing where to go to get needed input – so don’t hesitate to show that you need or want help with this decision.
Here too, structure the essay simply, just walking through the story – with focus on your thought process of making the decision. Start with the situation (the setting) that requires the decision making. When you discuss whose advise you’re seeking, note why that person.
If you would like professional guidance with your MIT Sloan EMBA application, check out 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 MIT Sloan EMBA application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
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