Columbia Business School (CBS) has made some big changes for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle! CBS will now consider applications in three rounds, rather than on a rolling basis. In another move, CBS has ended its Early Decision program. Finally, CBS has changed two of its essay prompts to focus on inclusive leadership and how you will contribute to the CBS experience.
What do these changes mean for you? By moving to the rounds system, Columbia will no longer favor early birds in its historic “first come, first serve” rolling admissions process. Rounds will give the adcom a better chance to compare applicants in a big pool against one another. That’s why you’ll need to work even harder to justify why you deserve a place at CBS and explain what you will contribute to the MBA experience there.
Ready to get to work on your CBS application? Read on.
- Columbia Business School application essay tips
- Columbia Business School application deadlines
- Columbia Business School class profile
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 maximum)
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 (rather than 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 about a nonprofessional goal or even about a long-term goal. And the subject in your response is assumed to be you, so you by including or starting with “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 recommendation, 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 and has been a part of CBS’ application for the last several years.
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. The adcom wants to see how you believe your career will develop after your first post-MBA job. Note that this question DOES NOT ask you how CBS will help you achieve your goals.
To respond to this essay question, realize that the . Don’t repeat “your professional path to date.” That would be a waste of valuable essay real estate and would mean you’d neither be telling the adcom anything new nor answering their question. Instead, describe what you want to do three to five years in the future, which should build on what you have stated for 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 a feasible professional goal.
Let CBS see that you have a purposeful and exciting direction in mind for your future – a future that will transform you into a graduate they will be proud of.
Columbia Business School Essay #2
The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to develop as inclusive leaders. Through various resources and programming, the goal is for students to explore and reflect during their educational journey on the following five inclusive leadership skills: Mitigating Bias and Prejudice; Managing Intercultural Dialogue; Addressing Systemic Inequity; Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking; and Creating an Inclusive Environment.
Describe a time or situation when you had the need to utilize one of more of these five skills, and tell us the actions you took and the outcome. (250 words)
For this essay, you’ll have just a few words with which to describe some big ideas. A superior result will come after you do your research and some deep thinking.
First, get to know the PPIL initiative. CBS describes the PPIL as “a one-of-a kind diversity, equity, and inclusion requirement.” It’s become a mandated part of the CBS experience.
Second, reflect on your personal experiences. You can write about a situation at work, during a volunteer stint, or in any other social situation where you acted with inclusive leadership.
The best examples will demonstrate how you were inquisitive, reflective, and if necessary, willing to create change within institutions or hierarchies for a more inclusive environment.
Columbia has offered five topics from which you can choose and must expand on in your essay. Because of the word limit, selecting just one or two is better than trying to address all five.
Third, organize your thoughts into a narrative. It’s useful to use the SOAR or SOAR + L framework to tell your story:
S = Situation. What was the situation you were presented with, and who were the people involved?
O = Obstacle. What was the obstacle or problem you faced?
A = Action. What considerations did you make, and how did you ultimately decide to act?
R = Result. What were the results of your actions?
+L = Learning. If you have space, you can summarize what you learned about the importance of acting as a leader on this issue.
Remember, don’t worry that the best essays will come from people who have started or joined formal diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in their workplace. Individual, one-on-one experiences outside of an institutional framework can be just as powerful, or even more so.
Columbia Business School Essay #3
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, an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, 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? Please be specific. (250 words)
This essay is your opportunity to prove to the adcom that you have done your research, and you’re convinced that CBS is THE best MBA program for you.
To prepare for this essay, think about your career goals. What do you need to learn to achieve them? Think about your learning style. Do you thrive in a lecture hall or in small groups? Finally, what do you like to do socially, and how do you best make friends?
Next, take time to review the curriculum – even go a step further and map out your ideal class schedule based on required core classes and possible electives. Consider also the Executives-in-Residence program, which offers one-of-a-kind access to C-suite mentors. What challenges do you anticipate you’ll encounter in the future that these classes and mentors will empower you to address? You could also consider how you would make the most of access to specialized centers focused on entrepreneurship, real estate, or investing at Columbia.
Finally, decide how you will contribute to the CBS student experience. Look through the clubs that are available, and come up with ideas about how you could have an impact in one or more of them. Do you want to have an international experience? Mention skill sets you’ve developed in your past, and discuss how you could apply them at Columbia to help organize and enrich the campus experience for everyone.
Now that you’ve done your research, dive right in and get to the point. You only have 250 words! Give yourself loosely 75 words for each focus area: academic, social, and professional. This means you can’t cram in everything you’ve discovered, so be selective. Choose aspects of the CBS program that will have the most impact on your future and where you will have the most impact.
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)
The CBS optional essay is specifically for you to “address areas of concern.” If you don’t have areas of concern, don’t write an essay. However, if you had a dip in grades, a period of unemployment, or some other issue that you want to address, this is your opportunity to do so. You don’t want the admissions committee guessing as to 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 you’re your required essays should make those reasons perfectly clear.
For expert guidance on your CBS 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? Explore our services for more information on how Accepted can help you get into Columbia.
Columbia Business School application deadlines
|Round||Application Deadline||Interview Decisions Released||Final Decisions Release|
|1||September 13, 2023||Mid-October||Mid-December|
|2||January 5, 2024||Early-to-mid February||Late March|
|3||April 3, 2024||Mid-to-late April||Early May|
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with CBS directly to verify its essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***
Columbia Business School class profile
Here’s a look at the CBS MBA class entering 2022 from the Columbia Business School website:
Applications received: 6,177
Enrolled: 844, divided into 12 clusters
- January entry class size: 215, divided into 3 clusters
- August entry class size: 629, divided into 9 clusters
GMAT score (average): 729
GMAT scores (range): 550-780
GMAT scores (middle 80%): 700-760
Undergraduate GPA (average): 3.6
Undergraduate GPA (middle 80%): 3.1-3.9
Work experience (average): 5 years
Work experience (middle 80%): 3-8 years
At least one year of work experience: 99%
Average age: 28
Age range: 21-44
Age range (middle 80%): 25-31
Minority of U.S. origin: 42%
International citizens: 51%
- Business: 33%
- Economics: 20%
- Engineering: 16%
- Social Sciences: 12%
- Sciences: 8%
- Humanities: 6%
- Technology: 2%
- Other: 2%
- Financial Services: 29%
- Consulting: 22%
- Marketing/Media: 11%
- Technology: 9%
- Other: 8%
- Real Estate: 5%
- Healthcare: 5%
- Military/Government: 5%
- Nonprofit 4%
- Energy: 2%
Is CBS the right school for you? These resources can help you decide:
- An MBA’s Perspective on Columbia Business School – podcast Episode 373
- 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
Over 6,000 applications, and only 1,363 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!
Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant. Want Michelle to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!