The Wharton EMBA adcom, through its three required questions, expresses its values and its interest in a relationship with students who share those values. Each of the questions highlights a different facet of this relationship. Respecting, recognizing, and responding to that vision through your essays will be the key to a successful application.
• Essay question 1 focuses on your goals and Wharton’s role in helping you achieve them.
• Essay question 2 invites you to share your understanding of Wharton more broadly and delineate your fit with Wharton’s culture and community.
• Essay question 3 seeks confirmation that you understand in practical terms what a commitment to attending the program involves.
My tips for answering Wharton’s EMBA essay questions are in blue below.
1. What are your career objectives and how will the Wharton MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of this objective? (750 word limit)
You may want to start by discussing your current career situation to set the context, and clarify how the MBA education will enable you to achieve your immediate goals in your current role. You can then naturally move on to your future goals. In describing your goals at any given point, indicate why you are taking that step or pursuing that role. Put more detail on the roles you plan immediately post-MBA and the several years following; longer-term goals need less detail, but they still should present a clear direction.
In discussing how the program will benefit you, be specific: describe what skills and knowledge you need, and how the program meets those needs. Also refer to the structure and special features of the program, detailing how they will support you and your goals.
2. In his groundbreaking Ted Talk “Are You a Giver or a Taker?” Adam Grant describes three primary personality types in the workplace: givers, takers, and matchers. Based on your understanding of yourself and our program, how do you intend to give and take as a student at Wharton? (750 word limit)
First, listen to the Ted Talk, and ground your essay in its concepts of givers, takers, and matchers. As you write, occasionally refer to the talk and integrate it into your discussion. Doing so conveys engagement with ideas that are clearly important to the Wharton EMBA adcom.
Essay 1 addresses how Wharton supports your goals specifically; this question focuses on Wharton as a broader community and culture and on you as a person. Professional factors will certainly be part of your answer, but there may well be community, social, personal and other facets of life where you and Wharton intersect. That said, don’t explain how you will give and take as a Wharton student – frankly, future, prospective activity isn’t all that interesting or credible. Rather, SHOW the adcom how you will give and take (and match) by providing brief examples of how you have done so already.
Not only will using example and anecdote to make your points be more credible, vivid, and interesting than the drone of explanation, it also gives you an opportunity to strategically showcase aspects of your life and experience that distinguish you and/or enhance your application.
3. Given your already demanding job and the desire to remain committed to important family and personal obligations, how do you plan to handle this additional demand on your time once you enroll? (500 word limit)
This straightforward question deserves a straightforward answer. Discuss the accommodations you will make at work, such as delegating more, adjusting travel schedules, etc. Don’t tell them every single thing you can think of – focus on the most significant two or three adjustments.
Also address your personal responsibilities and how you will meet them with this additional significant demand on your time and energy; even acknowledging that you’ll have less time at the playground with your toddler or mentioning the support of your significant other will show that you’re facing this issue squarely. If you’ve already successfully balanced school and working full time, by all means mention it.
Optional Essay. Please explain any extenuating circumstances you feel the Admissions Committee should be aware of (e.g., unexplained gaps in your work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent academic performance). You may also take this opportunity to share other aspects of your life that you feel have shaped you that the Admissions Committee would not otherwise have learned from your application or resume. (500 word limit)
You can use the optional essay not just to explain a problem (low GMAT, employment gap) but also to present new material that will further illuminate your candidacy. However, if you do the latter, use good judgment and make sure your points are germane to and truly enhance your application. For structuring the essay, first, succinctly explain any points that need explaining. Then, if there is some additional content, write about it succinctly.
If you would like professional guidance with your Wharton EMBA application, check out 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 Wharton EMBA 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 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• Get Accepted to Wharton, webinar
• Wharton’s Commitment Project – a Window into Wharton, podcast episode
• 3 Tips for Writing a Winning EMBA Essay