Leadership, teamwork, ethics, and a global approach to business are essential elements of the Duke Fuqua MBA, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these ideals in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by positioning yourself as an innovative leader and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work collaboratively, and shape global business.
My tips are in blue below.
Three short answer questions and two essays are required from all applicants.
• Responses should use 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
• Do not copy the essay question in the document you upload with your application.
• Respond fully and concisely. Length requirements vary by question, and are detailed below.
• Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
• Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers important in the selection process.
• All essays are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Expressing your ideas by using verbiage from existing sources, including other applicants’ essays or materials, without properly crediting those sources constitutes an act of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will result in an application denial. Note: if you have worked with a consultant to complete your application materials, please ensure that the honor code policy is discussed and he/she will not share your essays with other potential applicants.
Application Tip: Check out Fuqua’s selection criteria.
Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).
1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
State what you see yourself doing immediately after you earn your MBA in terms of function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them. If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that information too, but don’t say you want to work for Company X, unless Company X is sponsoring you. Without sponsorship, a “Company X” answer is probably too narrow, but saying you would like to work for a firm like Company X would work.
2. What are your long-term goals?
Your long term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be fuzzier both in terms of direction and timing. But you should have them. They can, but don’t have to, include larger aspirations and present a broader perspective on where you are headed. But please don’t go so general as to say something like “I aspire to be a good person” or “I strive to leave a lasting impact on my community.” Nice sentiments, but way too vague.
3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading strategy consulting firm – your first choice – what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B?
First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself
Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.
The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.
In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows a more creative approach than permitted by most essay prompts. Note that the questions asks you to go “beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.” So you can list your Pez collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band or the fact that you took violin from ages 6-18 or your membership in a gospel choir or your volunteer work in a hospital, your needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh – the list is endless. Just let it reflect you. Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends. For more insight into this question and the motivation behind, please read Megan Overbay’s, the former Director of Admissions’, advice. Yes, it’s old, but I believe you will find it helpful. And very friendly.
Second Required Essay:
Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.
Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.
Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?
Do your homework about Fuqua (and yourself) before responding to this question. What activities and groups appeal to you? How do you see yourself participating? Making a difference? Then look at Duke’s multi-faceted definition of “Consequential Leaders.” Which do you most identify with? Imagine how you would participate and sometimes lead. While you can reference similar activities in the past, keep the focus of this essay on what you would do at Fuqua.
One approach to responding to this question: Address a letter to a close friend or colleague and tell her how you would contribute to this very participatory culture. That letter could morph into this essay.
Optional Essay Question:
If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).
• Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application.
• The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your extenuating circumstances only.
• Limit your response to two pages.
Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities while working for a family business after having left a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make the change? Answering any of those questions (but not all) could be the topic of your optional essay.
If you would like professional guidance with your Duke Fuqua 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 Duke application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools