For its essay questions, the UCLA EMBA adcom is bucking the “less is more” trend in terms of length. The two main essays are both a hefty 750 words, long enough to allow – indeed to require – in-depth exposition, reflection, analysis, and description. These two questions together cover past, present, and future, in that order. Essay 1 addresses the past by asking for a particular story, and essay 2 addresses the present and future by asking about why now is the right time for you to be pursuing this degree. The questions indicate that the adcom believes the personal informs the professional; who you are defines your career and your work. Consequently, who you are as a person matters.
It helps to see these essays as two phases of a continuum:
- In essay 1, portray qualities, skills, and experience(s) that support your goals.
- In essay 2 show that your future plans fulfill the mission and purpose of the character portrayed in essay 1.
UCLA Anderson Executive MBA Application Essays
My tips are in blue below.
UCLA EMBA Essay #1
Legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden once said that one’s leadership is derived from one’s character. Please provide an example of a time when your own leadership was at its best. (750 words max)
There are two key words in this question: leadership and character. The implication in the latter word is that UCLA seeks applicants who not only have the requisite track record of leadership and impact that is commonly sought by top EMBA programs, but also gravitas, depth as a human being. Your chosen example should include leadership/impact and gravitas/depth.
You can select a topic for this essay either from your work experience or outside it – but keep the phrase “at its best” on your radar. What does “your leadership at its best” mean to you? This point reflects your character. For most people, I suggest going with a professional example in order to give the adcom a glimpse of you in your work environment, handling important and high-stakes situations. Go with a non-work example if it has some specific strategic value for your application. Also, use a relatively recent experience if possible, to allow the adcom to see the person who will show up in the classroom.
Let the story itself carry most of the weight in the essay – depict not just the story of leadership but how you inspired others to follow due to your character, example, and leadership style. At the end of the essay, write a short concluding paragraph explicitly summarizing why this is you as a leader at your best.
UCLA EMBA Essay #2
Why is this the best time for you to pursue your MBA? (750 words max)
This is a unique take on a goals essay – 750 words essentially zooming in on “why now?” In many goals essays, you’ll cover this point in one sentence. Here, given the length, present “why now” in both a micro and macro view.
The micro view looks at the particulars of your current situation – your current responsibilities and challenges and likely immediate next step. This part should position you at the right experience, responsibility, and decision-making level for a competitive EMBA, and the next step should be a role for which the EMBA learning is either essential or at least a clear asset.
The macro view looks at the longer-term career vision and the continuum of your career from past to future. Within that continuum, why is now the pivot point where you should make the investment of time, effort, and (most likely) money? How will the Executive MBA propel you forward not just for the next step but for the long term?
In describing your goals, indicate why you are planning that step. For shorter-term goals, detail specific positions, company, scope of responsibilities, and desired impact (i.e. what your desired “footprint” would be). Longer-term goals need less detail, but they should present a clear direction, building on the earlier roles.
The question does not ask you why you are choosing UCLA’s EMBA, but you can add a brief discussion of this point. If you do, be specific: describe how the program meets your key learning needs; refer to the features of the program that are most important to you.
UCLA EMBA Essay #3 (For reapplicants)
Please describe your career progress since you last applied and how you have strengthened your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals. (750 words max)
As a reapplicant, you should show growth from the previous application. Discuss professional developments such as promotions, awards, and new projects, as well as any significant community involvements and/or educational endeavors. Describe the activity/experience and note its positive impact if any. Try to include an anecdote for at least 1-2 of the activities discussed – given the word allowance, you have room for some detail. Finally, be selective and present only those activities that are relevant and enhance your application and candidacy in some way.
In the goals update, if the goals are still the same, mention developments that further prepare you for those goals (skills/knowledge gained, broadened network, etc.). If you have refined or revised your goals in some way, explain why and make a strong case for why you now are pursuing this altered path.
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UCLA Anderson EMBA 2019 – 2020 Application Deadlines
|Round 1||December 1, 2019|
|Round 2||February 1, 2020|
|Round 3||March 1, 2020|
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Top Executive MBA Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right, a free guide
• 5 Key Elements for Your Executive MBA Application, a short video
• EMBA Programs and the GMAT