The Duke Cross Continent MBA program is unique in its format and mission, and it targets a special segment of the MBA applicant pool: those who intend to continue working during the MBA and whose work and goals have a global focus. The average age of Cross-Continent students is a couple of years older than that of traditional MBA students.
Given the above, it’s not surprising to see the essay questions both addressing, directly and indirectly, fit with this one-of-a-kind program. And that’s exactly what you should keep your eye on as you develop your essays. While creating essays that answer the questions and also showcase your strengths, spotlight those experiences and elements that demonstrate both your understanding of the program’s specialness and how you align with and will enhance it.
Required Short Answer Question:
What are your career goals? Respond in a maximum of 100 words.
Give the basic facts – position, company example, industry (if not apparent from the company) and a word about responsibilities and desired impacts. Don’t repeat the question (it wastes space).
1. How will your skills, training and background enhance your cohort’s experience? Please include both personal and professional insight that may not be apparent through your resume and other application materials. Your response should be a maximum of 250 words.
This question is asking you to look behind your accomplishments and identify what “drives” or enables your success. The quality of your insight in this regard is the key point. With only 250 words, focus on 2-4 things; probably 3 would be ideal. Draw from at least 2 of the 3 categories (skills, training, background) as each category has a different type of influence.
Use examples and anecdotes to make the actual points – it they will make the essay more vivid, memorable, and credible. Obviously you won’t have room for lengthy stories, but you can sometimes convey an anecdote in one sentence, e.g., “When confronted with ABC, I drew on my [specific background/skill/training] and did DEF, resulting in XYZ.”
2. Duke University is embedded in the world’s most important economic regions. As a result, our students experience a unique learning environment in which programs are delivered on 4 different continents, by our world-renowned faculty. Our diverse student cohorts represent a vast array of professional backgrounds, nationalities, interests, and experiences. Serving students who are also working professionals, The Duke MBA—Cross Continent program allows student to apply new skills immediately in the workplace and reap the benefits from their first-hand global experiences. Explain how you and your organization will benefit from the global education offered at Duke. Your response should be a maximum of 500 words.
There’s a lot of preamble before the actual question, “Explain…” Don’t gloss over it – this intro encapsulates Duke’s vision for this program, and it can help you focus your goals essay accordingly.
Start with the immediate and short-term – discuss what you want to accomplish while in the program, and how applying the MBA learning “in real time” including its global aspect will enable you to do so. Be concrete, be specific. Discuss benefits to you (how you’ll be able to achieve more, grow, strengthen your impact) and to your company – they will connect with your impacts. Being specific in this discussion will also convey what you’ll bring to the table in terms of issues you’re addressing and working on, your industry and functional perspective, etc. so select points that will be interesting to the adcom and future classmates.
Finally, add a similar discussion for longer term goals, but make it shorter and less detailed.
Optional Essay: If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weakness in your application). Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Essay is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
This optional essay should focus on matters that require explanation; it does not invite you to further market yourself. Only write it if you do indeed have extenuating circumstances to discuss for a full and clear presentation of your candidacy.
An additional essay is required for re-applicants. It is not uncommon for it to take more than one try to achieve a goal. Please share with us the self-reflection process that you underwent after last year’s application and how you have grown as a result. How did it shape your commitment to Fuqua and inspire your decision to reapply?
The reapplicant essay focuses on “how” you approached growth and change as much as “what” that growth was. They are not just looking for updates on new achievements – they want to know that you have deliberately pursued a path of growth and development, what they results were, and, finally, how it spurs your reapplication to Fuqua. To avoid the potential pitfall of a lot of explanation in this essay, make the main part of the essay – the self-reflection and the growth – into a story, and conclude with how it incorporates Fuqua.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, 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 Accepted.com.