Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs

B-schools are always touting their entrepreneurial offerings, programs, and placement, so when we examined the employment reports of U.S. News’ top 25 business schools to see which schools send the most graduates into entrepreneurship, we were surprised to find that only thirteen programs provide this information in their employment reports.

Below you’ll find the results – the U.S. News’ top 25 MBA programs that reveal the number and percentage of 2013 grads who immediately founded their own businesses after completing their MBA:


# of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

% of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

Standford GSB 70 18%
MIT Sloan 37 9.5%
Wharton 59 7.5%
Harvard Business School 63 7%
Yale SOM 10 4.5%
UCLA Anderson 14 4%
Kellogg* 3%
Chicago Booth 17 3%
Columbia 18 2.5%
NYU Stern 2%**
Michigan Ross 8 1.5%
Duke Fuqua 4 1%
CMU Tepper 2 1%

* Numbers include all Kellogg MBA programs
** % of reported placements

Clearly, Stanford is way out in front in this horse race. MIT Sloan with its program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a distant #2, followed by HBS and Wharton in a tie for third place. Stanford and Sloan have long been known for entrepreneurship, but HBS and Wharton are generally thought of as financial services and consulting breeding grounds. In reality, both programs – without taking away from their strength in consulting and financial services – have sharpened the entrepreneurial saw over the last decade.

This comparison is useful for those of you who want to start your own business ASAP after earning an MBA. It is an indication of an entrepreneurial culture and education. And if entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately an entrepreneurial alumni network is important to you, then you need to know which schools are strong in this area and how they compare.

While this listing is useful, it still doesn’t tell the entire story of MBA programs’ entrepreneurial strength. Many business school grads will work for a few years to pay back loans and then start their own businesses. Among those, there will be a few grads who immediately enter a startup, so essentially they will initially be entrepreneurs on someone else’s dime. There are other MBAs who will work in entrepreneurial areas of established companies. None of these MBAs are reflected in the chart above, but all still benefited from their MBA program’s entrepreneurial education and culture.

Additionally, either we couldn’t find the data or schools don’t all publish these numbers. Consequently, the chart above is incomplete. Don’t automatically assume that programs we haven’t listed aren’t good for entrepreneurship. For example Haas has a highly entrepreneurial culture and many courses relevant to entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the number of 2013 grads who started their own business immediately upon graduation. Don’t let that lack of info prevent you from considering Haas if founding a startup is your dream. Similarly, Georgetown has many entrepreneurship resources (See Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship at Georgetown). Finally, programs outside US News’ top 25, may be excellent for entrepreneurship, deserving of consideration, and easier to get into (For example, Babson).

As with almost all stats in MBA admissions – especially anything related to (un)rankings and comparing programs – take this data as useful information not as the be all and end all of evaluating the entrepreneurial value of different MBA programs. It is simply a succinct compilation of data that you should incorporate into the additional research you should do before deciding where to earn your MBA. Also consider:

• Entrepreneurial curriculum. What classes are offered? Are there opportunities to develop and work on a business plan?

• Extracurricular groups and activities. Are there venture capital competitions, clubs, events, etc.?

• The student profiles at specific schools. Are they entrepreneurial? Would you like to be on a project with them?

Now it’s time for me to get back to drafting that business plan on the back of a napkin.

If any school in the US News’ top 25 includes that data in their employment report and we missed it, or they published the data after we visited their site, please email and we’ll add it.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

FT’s Best Global MBA Programs in 2014

The Financial Times released its 2014 global MBA rankings! Read on for the list, the facts, the analysis, and the sources.

The List:

2014 Rank

3 Year

School Country 
1 1 Harvard Business School USA
2 2 Stanford Graduate
School of Business
3 4 London Business School UK
4 3 U Penn Wharton USA
5 5 Columbia Business
6 6 INSEAD France/Singapore
7 8 IESE Business School Spain
8 8 MIT Sloan USA
9 10 Chicago Booth USA
10 15 Yale School of Management USA
11 12 UC Berkeley Haas USA
12 15 IMD Switzerland
13 11 IE Business School Spain
14 11 Hong Kong UST
Business School
15 15 Northwestern Kellogg USA
16 19 Cambridge Judge UK
17 17 Duke Fuqua USA
18 18 NYU Stern USA
19 19 CEIBS China
20 18 Dartmouth Tuck USA

To truly understand the rankings, much less use them, please see the methodology so you’ll know what’s being ranked. While there are twenty factors considered in the FT rankings, the FT methodology puts the most weight on increase in salary in $US PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and weighted salary in $US PPP.

Poets and Quants criticizes the FT rankings for absurd results in calculating “Value for Money” as well as for having too many criteria and several criteria that really don’t reflect the quality of education. Others say that it is biased against U.S. programs.

Regardless of the criticism’s validity, the FT ranking is arguably the most cited ranking of global programs because it compares U.S. and international programs in one ranking and seems to do a better job of it than the alternatives. That prominence doesn’t mean these rankings are Gospel. It does mean you have a lot of data in a format where you can easily compare MBA programs from around the world on designated criteria.

The Facts:

Here are some fun facts about FT’s 2014 rankings:

• 7 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 programs ranked are US schools.

• Big jumpers this year include Boston University’s business school and Washington Forster, which each jumped 20 spots, to 75th and 58th place, respectively. Another big US jumper this year was USC Marshall which jumped 17 spots to 65th place. UNC Kenan Flagler jumped up 12 slots this year from its 3-year average rank, moving from #45 to #33.

• The biggest losers this year include Dublin’s Smurfit School (dropped 27 spots to 91st place) and Vlerick Business School (fell 16 places to 100th place), as well as the schools which disappeared off the list entirely: U of Iowa’s Tippie School (74th last year), Korea University Business School (86th last year), Incae Business School in Costa Rica (90th last year), Case Western’s Weatherhead School (94th last year), and others.

• Newcomers to the list include: UC Davis (98th), Wake Forest (94th), BYU’s Marriott School (93rd), and ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Germany (89th).

• In terms of geographic representation, the top 20 schools are all in the US, UK, Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland), China, and Singapore, but further down the list, other countries gain their spots: India comes in at 30th place with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad; SDA Bocconi in 31st place represents Italy; South Korea appears in 45th place with Sungkyunkwan University’s GSB; Canada’s first school on the list is Toronto Rotman at 51st place; Portugal follows with The Lisbon MBA in 52nd place (new to list); South Africa’s U. of Cape Town GSB comes in at 59th place; in the 62nd slot we have Australia’s Australian Graduate School of Management; and Brazil’s Coppead is in 79th place.

•  The city with the highest concentration of schools in the top 100 is (of course) Boston with six top b-schools – Harvard (1), MIT Sloan (8), Hult International Business School (61), BU School of Management (75), Boston College Carroll (82), and Babson Olin (95).

The Analysis:

While it’s fun to look at the changes – who climbed and who sank – for me the real lessons from this ranking are:

1. The top programs move and change very slowly. That lack of drama in these rankings is a better reflection of reality than the gyrations one sees outside the top twenty. Significant change takes time so sharp jumps and dives probably mean nothing. Sustained change in ranking has greater credibility – if you value the same qualities as the FT.

2. The one point made repeatedly in the commentary on this ranking, and it is the same conclusion I draw from both the FT ranking and the Forbes ranking, which both emphasize ROI and increase in salary, is this: The MBA education at top programs provides a solid return on investment for most students. The MBAs surveyed for the FT rankings started their MBA in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit, and graduated in 2010. These MBAs still report on average a 100% increase in salary over what they were making before they started business school.

There are obviously critics of graduate business education, specifically the MBA, and those detractors either believe an MBA isn’t valuable or that the value has declined. I agree with the latter group. However, the questions for today’s applicants are:

1. “Given my current professional background and salary and my anticipated salary after I earn an MBA, do the anticipated financial rewards plus increased job satisfaction justify the investment (both out of pocket and opportunity costs)?” The fact that those entering b-school ten or twenty years ago could anticipate a higher ROI is irrelevant. It is merely a historical curiosity and for you an unfortunate one.

2. “Is the full-time MBA – or whatever flavor you are considering – the optimal way for me to attain my MBA goals?”

FT, to its credit, also has an article on those claiming the MBA is not worth the effort. Sometimes they are right. Each one of you individually needs to examine your circumstances and goals to see if for you the MBA is an expensive waste of time and effort, or if for you it is likely to be worth both. Clearly, most of the people surveyed by Forbes, the Financial Times, and GMAC are in the latter group.

In this video  Della Bradshaw, FT’s Business Education Editor, discusses the results of this year’s FT Global MBA rankings including the finding that MBAs in the class of 2010 are now enjoying salaries double those they were earning before they entered b-school.

The Sources

• FT Global MBA Ranking 2014

•  FT: MBA Ranking 2014: Key & Methodology

•  FT: Big Names Dominate FT MBA Ranking Top Spots

•  P&Q: Winners & Losers in 2014 FT MBA Ranking

•  Accepted: 4 Ways You Should NOT Use the MBA Rankings

•  Accepted: MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

Looking for MBA Application Essay Tips?

B-school applicants: Are you looking for advice to help you answer specific essay questions on top MBA applications? Are you looking for a resource that offers up-to-date advice for the questions found on THIS YEAR’S apps?

We’d like to introduce you to our updated special report, Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! In this report, you’ll receive school-by-school, question-by-question advice on how to answer the questions on this year’s MBA applications.

Download your copy of "Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right"

If you want the most detailed advice available for creating the best MBA application possible, then you’ll want to download Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! now!

Download your free MBA application essay tips now!

2013 P&Q Top B-School Rankings

Get application essay tips for the top b-school applications!

Harvard Business School is the top MBA program for the fourth year in a row.

The top 8 schools in the 2013 Poets & Quants b-school rankings remain unchanged from last year, with slots 9 and 10 merely swapping positions (Duke Fuqua moved from 10th place to 9th place and UC Berkeley Haas moved from 9th to 10th).


About Harvard Business School, top MBA program for the fourth year in a row, John Byrne, P&Q editor, says:

Despite less-than-flattering publicity generated by a New York Times’ front page story on gender inequality at Harvard, an MBA from the school remains the quintessential credential in business. No rival beats Harvard in the formidable resources it brings to the game: the outsized number of superstar professors, the diversity of its course offerings, the stellar quality of its students, the size and scope of its campus, and the career achievements of its alumni spread all over the world.

He goes on to sing praises for this year’s HBS entering class – an average GMAT score of 720, a 3.9% increase in application volume, a record high of women (at 41% of the class), and an average undergrad GPA of 3.67.

Other Highlights…

• Chicago Booth ranked ahead of Wharton for the fourth year in a row, making the top three Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago (H/S/C) instead of the traditional Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton (H/S/W).

• Wharton was the only school in the top 10 to see a decrease in its application volume this year with a 5.8% decrease.

• Booth saw the highest boost in app volume with a 9.9% increase.

• For top b-schools outside of the U.S., London Business School again took the top slot.

• Two big jumpers in the top 50 include U. of Washington which jumped 9 places from 33rd place to 24th and Georgia Tech which also jumped 9 places from 40th to 31st place.

The Top 20

2013 P&Q Rank and School 2012 P&Q Rank BW FT
1. Harvard Business School 1 2 2
2. Stanford GSB 2 4 2
3. Chicago Booth 3 1 6
4. UPenn Wharton 4 3 3
5. Northwestern Kellogg 5 5 8
6. MIT Sloan 6 9 5
7. Columbia 7 13 4
8. Dartmouth Tuck 8 12 10
9. Duke Fuqua 10 6 11
10. UC Berkeley Haas 9 14 7
11. Cornell Johnson 11 7 14
12. Michigan Ross 13 8 15
13. UVA Darden 12 10 16
14. UCLA Anderson 17 18 13
15. NYU Stern 14 16 12
16. CMU Tepper 16 11 19
17. Yale SOM 15 21 9
18. UNC Kenan- Flagler 19 17 21
19. Texas McCombs 18 19 22
20. Indiana Kelley 21 15 26

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

MBA Interview Tips Post 5: Video Essays

[NOTE: This post is the fifth in a series; if interested please see the introduction and tip 1, tip 2, tip 3, and tip 4.]

Click here for 6 more tips for answering video MBA essay questions.

Video Essay: Natural Experience or Performance?

Wait, why is a video essay featured in a series on MBA interviews?

Because it works like an interview in its visual presentation of you and it functions like a conversation.

Kellogg, Yale, and Rotman have included required video essays (or “screen tests” as Poets & Quants dubs this element) in their applications.  It’s been an option, rather infrequently used, at NYU Stern for years.

Why adcoms use this method:   

• It allows the adcom to see the applicants respond in almost-real-time to questions.

• It allows the adcom to test applicants’ ability to organize their thoughts and present a response both meaningful and succinct.

• Applicants “shine” in different ways, and an applicant who shines in interpersonal communication and charisma may not make it through to a competitive interview with written essays; now the adcom can spot these applicants.

• Similarly, someone may shine in the conventional written essays, but be inappropriate or unprofessional in presentation, and the adcom can now spot and weed out these applicants early, without expending additional resources on interviews.

Process:  Basically, you click on a link in the application, and you are given a question to answer.  You are being timed, so you can’t halt the process, go away for an hour and plan a careful response. Rather, the application gives you a minute or so to compose your thoughts.  Then you have a short window, usually one to two minutes, to video-record your answer.  You can view your response, but you can’t change it.  Sometimes the application give you a few “tries,” but you can’t re-record an answer if you don’t like what you did the first time.  You can only move on to the next question.  The reason is that the adcoms are trying to avoid a rehearsed, nonspontaneous reply.  The last question is literally your last chance in the video essay – you can’t go back and redo earlier attempts.

Benefits and pitfalls for applicants:

• Benefit: if you present yourself comfortably and are photogenic, the medium plays to these strengths.

• Benefit: the process may take less time than a written essay.

• Benefit: for non-native English speakers, you can demonstrate solid English speaking skills—especially beneficial if you have a low verbal GMAT score and/or borderline TOEFL.

• Benefit: The skills and attributes it highlights differ from and complement those highlighted by written essays, improving the chances for different kinds of applicants to shine in the initial application.

• Pitfall: you have a limited time and can’t second guess your answer; once it’s done it’s done (whereas with a written essay you can revise it up until submission if you have further thoughts for improving it).

• Pitfall: although the adcoms call it a conversation, it actually isn’t very natural or comfortable to talk into a camera with no human response; some people need a lot of practice to overcome a strange sensation with this medium.

• Pitfall: for people who are methodical, the short prep and answer time works against your natural inclination and doesn’t play to your strength.

• Pitfall: you’re at the mercy of well-functioning technology and Internet connections.

While not exactly a pitfall, there’s also the reality that even though adcoms strive for objectivity in evaluating applicants, the video essay creates the potential for them to be subjectively influenced (pro or con) by an applicant’s physical appearance early in the “weeding” process.

How to make this type of interview work for you (this is in addition to all the common sense advice for good MBA interviews):

• Review’s tips for this interview format.

• Practice with a video camera, YouTube, or other formats, speaking to a camera without a person involved.

• Practice coming up with short answers to a range of questions – limit your prep time so it’s similar to the video essay’s, and find a technique that works for you for gathering your thoughts quickly and identifying a key point or message.

• Consider the whole visual picture: not just having hair combed and appropriate attire, but also the background and lighting – all should enhance the presentation.

• The adcoms say they want a spontaneous, natural experience of the applicant, but it may not be natural for you to look at and speak to a non-responsive camera.  It’s the illusion of naturalism; it’s acting, it’s performance, essentially.  To create your best impression, understand and analyze your gestures, cadence, tone – what makes your presentation reflect “you” effectively?  A good actor is deliberately and thoughtfully natural, not mindlessly natural.  You’re actually performing your best self.

MBA Video Essays: A Conversation with Rotman’s Niki da Silva

Cindy Tokumitsu By , 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

Round 2 Applicants: Looking for Tips for Specific MBA Application Questions?

Round 2 (and 3) applicants: Are you looking for advice to help you answer specific essay questions on top MBA applications? Are you looking for a resource that offers up-to-date advice for the questions found on THIS YEAR’S apps?

We’d like to introduce you to our updated special report, Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! In this report, you’ll receive school-by-school, question-by-question advice on how to answer the questions on this year’s MBA applications…and just in time to submit those R2 apps!

Download your copy of "Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right"

If you want the most detailed advice available for creating the best MBA application possible, then you’ll want to download Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! now!

Top 20 MBA Programs in 2013

Here are the 20 best MBA programs in the U.S. for 2013 according to Forbes:

1. Stanford GSB $80,000 $221,000
2. Chicago Booth $76,000 $200,000
3. Harvard Business School $80,000 $205,000
4. UPenn Wharton $80,000 $205,000
5. Northwestern Kellogg $73,000 $176,000
6. Dartmouth Tuck $72,000 $189,000
7. Columbia Business School  
$74,000 $192,000
8. Duke Fuqua $63,000 $152,000
9. Cornell Johnson $59,000 $155,000
10. Michigan Ross $61,000 $153,000
11. UNC Kenan-Flagler $60,000 $141,000
12. MIT Sloan $70,000 $185,000
13. UCLA Anderson $65,000 $165,000
14. UC Berkeley Haas $71,000 $175,000
15. UVA Darden $67,000 $158,000
16. CMU Tepper $60,000 $135,000
17. Brigham Young Marriott $50,000 $109,000
18. Yale SOM $54,000 $144,000
19. Indiana Kelley $50,000 $120,000
20. Iowa Tippie $46,000 $118,000

For more info, please see Forbes’ lead article “Stanford Tops 2013 List Of America’s Best Business Schools.”

Why the Forbes Ranking Matters

The Forbes ranking is interesting for one simple reason: It focuses exclusively on ROI five years after graduation. This year Forbes looked at the graduates of 2008, the class that graduated into the Great Recession, the financial melt-down, and the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns. It was a tough time to launch a career.

Forbes heard from almost 5,000 grads from 100 schools and “compared their earnings in their first five years out of business school to their opportunity cost (two years of forgone compensation), tuition and required fees to arrive at a ‘5-year M.B.A. Gain.’” It ranks programs based on that pre-tax gain. (For the details of Forbes methodology, click here.) It does not include programs where less than 15% of alumni responded or where there was negative ROI. It also does assume reduced increase in salary without an MBA.

Potential Flaws:

• It relies on reporting from grads who have an interest in their alma mater being highly ranked. In other words, like all surveys, it can be gamed.

• While Forbes does attempt to reflect financial aid and differences in cost of living, it doesn’t reflect disparities in varied industries and functional roles. You are going to go into a specific field and industry. The averages in that industry are going to matter to you more than the average of the graduating class at your business school.

• In its methodology Forbes assumes that without an MBA, the candidates would have had half the increase in salary that they had with the MBA. I don’t know if there is any data supporting that assumption, or if it is generous or stingy.

Take-Aways from the Forbes Ranking

Despite the potential flaws, the Forbes ranking does have value. I noticed or took away the following:

1.  An MBA from a top MBA program pays, and pays well. It doesn’t, or didn’t, pay off as quickly as it did 10 years ago, but it pays. A 3-5 year payback with gravy for the rest of your career is an excellent investment. And if you are lucky enough not to graduate into the kind of almost unprecedented financial disaster the Class of 2008 faced, you should have a shorter payback period and higher gain. This is the clearest conclusion from the Forbes ranking. To me, it is far more important than any individual school’s actual rank or even movement of one school since 2011, when Forbes had its last ranking.

2.  The schools with the shortest payback period were NOT the highest ranked programs. They were BYU Marriott, Indiana Kelley, and Iowa Tippie. See “Busting Two MBA Myths.”

3.  There are some surprising winners (UC Davis, UCLA Anderson, CMU Tepper, Duke, Ross, and UNC Kenan-Flagler) and losers (Yale SOM, UVA Darden, and NYU Stern).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Use rankings for the data they provide and as sources of insight into trends over time. Don’t view any individual ranking as an influential factor in choosing where to apply or where to attend. And for heaven’s sake, take the time to understand what is actually being ranked and evaluated.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

Yale SOM 2014 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

More info about Yale SOM.


The reduced essay requirements means that you have to make the boxes work harder to reveal achievement and fit with Yale SOM. The essays themselves are all about Why MBA? and Why Yale.

My tips are in blue. 


1. What motivates your decision to pursue an MBA?  (300 words maximum)

What was the moment when you realized you needed an MBA? You could open with that moment and then segue into the reasons that made the moment significant and be came your reasons for wanting an MBA. The strong answer to this question will also address, “What can’t you do without an MBA that you want to do ?” 

2. The Yale School of Management provides leadership education for broad-minded, rigorous, and intellectually curious students with diverse backgrounds; a distinctive integrated curriculum; connections to one of the great research universities in the world; and the broad reach of an innovative and expanding global network of top business schools.

What motivates you to apply to the Yale School of Management for your MBA? What will you contribute to Yale and Yale SOM?   (450 words maximum)

As you answer this question, keep in mind Yale’s Mission: “Educating leaders for business and society.” You may also want to review the welcome from Dean Snyder.

Why would you love to attend Yale? What about its approach to management education resonates with you? Again, you can start with an anecdote or experience, preferably an achievement. Then analyze that event in terms of your reasons for wanting to go to Yale.

Given those reasons and the experience you are highlighting, how do you intend to contribute? Do you homework about Yale and Yale SOM before responding to this question. Which groups do you see yourself getting involved in? Is there anything you would like to initiate?  What’s going to be better as a result of your attending Yale? 

For more on fit, please see What is Fit?

Optional Information:

If any aspect of your candidacy needs further explanation, please provide the additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.    You should use this section only if the information is not adequately captured elsewhere in your application.  Re-applicants should use this space to indicate how your candidacy has changed since you last applied.  (200 words maximum)

Did you face unusual challenges? Why isn’t your current boss writing your recommendation? Why is there a one-year gap between your second and third job? Why did your grades dip during the first quarter of your senior year? Your optional essay can respond to any of those questions (but not all).

Video Questions:

After you submit your application, you will be asked to answer a small number of video questions. These questions are intended to give you another opportunity to tell us about yourself. They will ask you about your past experiences, how you handled certain situations, and to respond to certain statements. They are not meant to be difficult and should not require extensive preparation to answer.

You will receive an email soon after you submit your application with detailed instructions about the video questions. To answer them, you will just need an internet connection and a webcam. You will have the opportunity to test your connection and respond to a sample questions before answering the questions. Once you have completed the questions, your responses will be added to your application and we will continue with the review process.

To prepare for your webcam session, you need to practice for the experience of talking to a video camera with no responses from another human being. It is a weird experience. For tips on how to prepare and behave during the webcam session, please see: Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions.

Yale SOM  2014 Deadlines:

Round Due Date Decisions Released
Round 1 September 25 2013  December 9 2013
Round 2 January 9 2014 April 4 2014
Round 3 April 24 2014 May 22 2014


If you would like professional guidance with your Yale SOM 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 Yale MBA application.  

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions

Get more MBA video essay tips!

The Kellogg School of Management

Rotman led the charge last year with a video essay question. This year Yale and Kellogg (so far) have decided to try it out. I saw a rumor that INSEAD is also considering the format.

Worried about being literally on stage? Here are my tips if you need to respond to a question in a short 1-2-minute video.

First, realize that these video essays, like the written ones, are attempts to get to know you. Unlike the written word, however, the schools are seeking to see how you present yourself visually and with little time to prepare or polish answers. They are testing articulation and presence in a way that essays can’t and at much less expense than interviews. In that sense, these videos are a pre-interview screening device in addition to a way to learn more about your likes and dislikes, achievements, dreams, goals, and challenges.

And while you may not be able to prepare for a specific question, you definitely can and should prepare.

Learn how video essays came about, how they work, & how to ace them!

You need to practice for the experience of talking to a video camera with no responses from another human being. No body language. No facial expressions. No audience energy. Zero feedback. It’s just a dumb machine. Having created videos for Accepted, I found the experience very unnatural, but I think/hope I’ve gotten better with practice. You can too.

Until the questions become known, practice answering different essay questions in the announced time limit and then view the video. Here are a few sample questions to get you started, but I may update this list as we get more information from the schools:

• What do you do for fun?
• What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
• If you could travel across the United States in a car with anyone, whom would you choose to travel with and why?
• What would you do on a rainy Sunday afternoon?
• How have you handled a difficult interaction? What did you learn from it?
• Describe a difficult professional decision you had to make.  What were the consequences, and what, if anything, did you learn?

If you are really nervous about the video exercise or about speaking in public, consider joining Toastmasters and forcing yourself to speak publicly. You will improve your “presence” and gain confidence. Both will help you with your video interview, any admissions interview, job interviews, and required public speaking.

So beyond preparing and simply getting comfortable with the format or anticipated questions, when it comes time for the real thing, do the following:

1. Dress neatly. Follow any dress guidelines the school provides. Women, put on make-up and jewelry lightly. If you wonder if your attire is too revealing, it is.  Men, have a hair-cut and shave. Make sure beard or mustache, if you have, are trimmed and neat.

2. It should go without saying, but keep your language clean — no profanity.

3. Think for a few seconds before you reply and then minimize pauses that we tend to fill with “ums” and “uhs.” They don’t contribute to “presence.”

4. If you tend to perspire, put on the air conditioning so the room is cool.

5. Sit up straight and lean a little bit forward.

6. Remember to smile. I put a smiley face next to the camera.

And two final points:

  1. Schools want to accept students who reflect well on them.
  2. You’ll do great!

If you would like help with your video essay, Accepted’s experienced MBA admissions experts, who have been prepping and critiquing MBA applicants for almost twenty years, are more than happy to help you.

Download your free report: TOP MBA PROGRAM ESSAY QUESTIONS: HOW TO ANSWER THEM RIGHT! Detailed question analyses and valuable advice on how to answer the questions so your candidacy shines.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of 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.

Yale SOM 2014 Deadlines

Yale SOM

Will this be your school?

Yale SOM applicants, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. You’ve got three months till the round one deadline, and those essays have to be exceptional.

Application Due      Admissions Decisions 
Round 1      Sept. 25, 2013 Dec. 9, 2013
Round 2 Jan. 9, 2014 Apr. 4, 2013
Round 3 Apr. 24, 2014 May 22, 2014


For more info about Yale SOM, check out our Yale SOM b-school zone. Tips on writing the Yale application essays will be published on the blog shortly, so be sure to check back soon.