The Stern Langone part-time MBA essays, together, cover “the whole you” – your professional side and your non-work side. And they require you to address both highly structured, specific questions (essays 1-2) in conventional written format and a relatively open, “free form” question (essay 3), employing visual elements. The applicants who can best handle this duality are confident, mature applicants; they know what their goals are, have an intellectual appetite for the NYU experience, and welcome the chance to portray their distinct individuality.
Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• What are your short and long-term career goals?
• How will the MBA help you achieve them?
You may start by succinctly mentioning your current career situation to set the context, (Warning: Don’t just repeat your resume, but rather make this opening highlight your industry and/or function, as this is part of what you’ll bring to the table in a part-time program). Then move on to discuss your short-term goals. Give solid details: position, company, scope of accountability, what you want to accomplish, and how you hope to grow. And, to make it meaningful and engaging, explain WHY you want to take these steps, what excites and engages you about this anticipated path. Your longer-term goal needs less detail and should of course reflect some reasonable trajectory from the earlier role. Here too, make the reader feel your excitement.
In discussing how the MBA will enable you to achieve your stated goals, describe what skills and knowledge you need in order to pursue your goals, and how an MBA overall meets those needs. Be specific. You can also add a little about the benefits of Stern specifically, though you’ll have a chance to address that topic fully in essay 2.
Essay 2: Program Preferences
NYU Stern offers a portfolio of MBA programs designed to meet the needs of our applicants. Your program preferences are very important as you will be admitted to only one program. You cannot switch your program option after receiving your admissions decision.
• A. Primary Program Preference (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Please indicate the primary MBA program for which you would like to be considered, as indicated in the Primary Program Selection section of the application.
• Explain why the program you have selected is the best program for you.
• B. Alternative Program Preference(s) (250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Please indicate any alternative program(s) for which you would also like to be considered, as indicated in the Alternative Program Selection section of the application and why you would also like to be considered for this/these program(s).
• An alternate program does not need to be selected. If you have no alternate programs you do not need to complete this essay, just indicate “N/A”.
Since you are applying to the part-time program, Part A probes your decision-making regarding this option. The adcom wants to know that the reasons are appropriate and positive. This section also gives you a chance to portray (briefly!) your current work and its distinguishing aspects – presumably one reason you are pursuing the part-time program is because you want to remain in an interesting and rewarding job. Focus on the key 2-3 reasons for a part-time MBA. Don’t worry about having “unique” reasons – it’s your specific work and the insights you’ll bring from it that are unique.
Caution: offer positive, affirmative reasons; avoid negative (defensive) reasons like can’t afford a full-time MBA, afraid to leave job, can’t get into a top-tier full-time program. Positive reasons include wanting to stay in a desirable job/industry, excitement about applying learning in real-time, valuing studying alongside peers who are immersed in diverse industries and functions, etc.
In this part of the essay you can also succinctly discuss specific aspects of the program that are especially meaningful to you, which could include curriculum (structure and/or content), clubs, professors, special programs and opportunities. In doing so, always state why the given aspect attracts you.
If appropriate, take a similar approach in answering Part B of this essay. However, if you do wish to apply to another program with this application, be sure that nothing in Part B contradicts messages elsewhere in the essays.
Essay 3: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)
Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:
• A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
• Six images that help illustrate who you are.
• A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.
Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.
Okay, now the fun part. Seriously! If you don’t have fun with this essay (at least a bit), it won’t “lift off.” That doesn’t mean it has to be jokey or humorous – simply, you should enjoy putting together the visuals that show aspects of your otherwise not visible in the application. I do recommend keeping Stern’s emphasis on “IQ + EQ” on the radar as you develop this essay. While certainly your transcript and resume will address IQ, this is a great opportunity to show your EQ.
One challenge of this essay is finding balance: most people will naturally want to present images of different parts of their lives, different experiences, accomplishments, etc. Yet, having 6 distinct images that together lack any integrating point or message could simply “add up” to a blur, even if each individual image is potentially interesting. So, use some organizing principle, or theme, or approach. It needn’t be anything fancy or brilliant, just something that works.
As for those captions – please keep them short. I’ve seen some of these essays where the applicant tried to cram a mini essay into the sentence caption. It enervates the picture and the essay. Adhere to the spirit of the question and make the caption an enhancement, not a thorough explanation. (If you find an image needs lengthy explanation to have meaning, it’s probably not a good one to use for this purpose.)
3. Additional Information (optional). Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL, or any other relevant information. (250 word maximum, double space, 12 point font)
These instructions don’t explicitly limit the essay to extenuating circumstances or application-specific issues, but the topics Stern suggests are just such issues. Moreover, the phrase “bring to the attention of” doesn’t really invite you to continue marketing yourself. I therefore suggest addressing the types of issues the question presents, or other information that has a direct bearing on the adcom’s ability to understand your candidacy.
If you would like professional guidance with your NYU Stern Langone 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 NYU Stern Langone application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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