Columbia Business School changed its application a bit this cycle. It removed choice from the essays and is now requiring three essays as well as providing an optional question. Last year it required two essays with one optional, but you had a choice of topics in responding to the second question.
Ready to get to work on your CBS application? Read on.
Columbia Business School application essay tips
Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays (source: CBS website).
Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)
Examples of possible responses:
- Work in business development for a media company
- Join a strategy consulting firm
- Launch a data-management start-up
Note that this has a character (not word) limit. Your response must be significantly shorter than a tweet. What do you want to do professionally and in which industry immediately after earning your MBA?
Warning: This question is not asking about your intended area of study while in business school or a non-professional goal or even a long-term goal. And the subject in your response is assumed to be you. No need to waste characters by including “I” or “I plan to…”
Succinctly define your goal in terms of function (what you want to do) and the industry (or type of company) in which you want to do it.
Columbia Business School Essay #1
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)
Columbia adcom readers must really like the answers they get to this question, because it’s back this year, with one tiny change, and has been a part of CBS’ application for the last several years. (The change: CBS removed “in your imagination” which used to precede “would be your long-term dream job?”)
CBS wants you to focus on your career goals not immediately after graduation, as in the short-answer question, but in the medium- and long-term. They want to see how you believe your career will develop after that first post-MBA job. This question does not ask you how CBS will help you achieve your goals.
To answer this question, realize that the readers already know what’s in your resume. Don’t repeat “your career path to date.” That’s a waste of valuable essay real estate) and means you’re neither telling them anything new nor answering their question.Instead, tell them what you want to do three to five years into the future, which should build on your first post-MBA job. Make sure to answer the long-term question and feel free to dream and aspire, but at the same time reveal an ambitious, but feasible professional goal.
Let them see that you have a purposeful and exciting direction for your future, a future that will transform you into an alum they will be proud of.
Columbia Business School Essay #2
We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, co-curricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.
Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)
This question is new this year and combines elements of two of the elective question from last year’s app.
To answer it well, you need to have specific reasons why CBS appeals to you and include them in your response. You can focus on the Philips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which CBS provides as an example in its question and which was the subject of one question last year. Or you can focus on other programs that are distinctive to Columbia, like its Executives in Residence program, or the ability to have internships at the many top corporations as well as young start-ups in New York City.
Columbia Business School Essay #3
Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
Choose one book, movie, or song and discuss why you love it. You can start with a key scene or phrase and provide 2-3 reasons that makes this piece so meaningful to you such that it earns the title of your favorite.
This is a get-to-know-you question – and not the professional you, but the fun, off-the-job, engaged, and engaging you. It’s a chance for them to “hang out” with you in a more casual setting.
Realize that why you choose a book, movie, or song as your favorite is far more important than what you choose.
This essay is an opportunity for you to show a different side of you. Use it well.
Columbia Business School optional essay
If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (maximum 500 words)
This question has also changed and is more restrictive than Columbia’s optional essay last year. This essay is now specifically for you to “address areas of concern.” If you don’t have areas of concern, don’t write the essay. However, if you had a dip in grades, a period of unemployment, or some other issue that you want to address, do so here. You don’t want the admissions committee guessing why something is the way it is and coming to the wrong conclusion.
Don’t even think of using this essay as a grand finale or wrap up. And definitely don’t use it to rehash your reasons for wanting to attend Columbia Business School; those reasons should be perfectly clear from the required essays.
For expert guidance on your Columbia Business School application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages that include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the CBS application. Looking to score some scholarship money while you’re at it? Accepted’s clients received over $3 million dollars in scholarship offers in the 2021-2022 application cycle. Explore our services for more information on how Accepted can help you get into Columbia.
Columbia Business School 2022-23 application deadlines
January 2023 Entry
|Regular decision||September 28, 2022|
August 2023 Entry
|Early decision||September 28, 2022|
|Merit fellowship||January 11, 2023|
|Regular decision||April 5, 2023|
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
Columbia Business School class profile [Class entering 2021]
Here’s a look at the CBS MBA Class entering 2021, taken from the Columbia Business School website:
Applications received: 6,535
Enrolled: 847, divided into 11 clusters
- January Entry class size: 233, divided into 3 clusters
- August Entry class size: 614, divided into 8 clusters
GMAT scores (average): 729
GMAT scores (range): 540–780
GMAT scores (middle 80%): 700–760
Undergraduate GPA (average): 3.5
Undergraduate GPA (middle 80%): 3.1–3.9
Work experience (average): 5 years
Work experience (middle 80%): 3–8 years
At least 1 year of work experience: 99%
Average age: 28
Age range: 23–43
Age range (middle 80%): 25–31
Minority of US origin: 40%
International citizens: 48%
- Business: 37%
- Economics: 18%
- Engineering: 15%
- Social Science: 13%
- Sciences: 7%
- Humanities: 6%
- Technology: 2%
- Other: 2%
- Financial Services: 31%
- Consulting: 22%
- Marketing/Media: 12%
- Technology: 9%
- Real Estate: 7%
- Healthcare: 5%
- Other: 5%
- Military/Government: 4%
- Energy: 1%
- Manufacturing: 1%
Accepted has many resources that will help you learn more about CBS, tips on how to put together the best application, and how the MBA application process has changed due to the impact of COVID-19.
Is CBS the right school for you? Read these resources to help you decide:
- An MBA’s Perspective on Columbia Business School
- Which MBA Program is Right for Me? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an MBA Program
- M7 MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know in 2022
- Deferred MBA Programs and Other Options for MBA Hopefuls With No Work Experience
- MBA Selectivity Index: Discover the MBA Programs Where You Are Competitive
Over 6,500 applications, and only 1,215 accepted at CBS last year. How can you ensure your application stands out from the crowd? Check out these resources for expert advice:
- Get Accepted to CBS Webinar
- AMA Session with Columbia Business School Director of Admissions Michael Robinson
- Applicants that Stand Out at Columbia Business School
- Columbia Executive MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines
Getting into Columbia Business School takes a special combination of an outstanding application, an extraordinary essay, and an incredible interview. Check out our MBA Services Packages to work one-on-one with our expert admissions consultants. We can help you GET ACCEPTED!
By Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted. Linda earned her bachelors and MBA at UCLA, and has been advising applicants since 1994 when she founded Accepted. Linda is the co-founder and first president of AIGAC. She has written or co-authored 13 e-books on the admissions process, and has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, Poets & Quants, Bloomberg Businessweek, CBS News, and others. Linda is the host of Admissions Straight Talk, a podcast for graduate school applicants. Want an admissions expert to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!