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Essay Questions for 2023-24 Application Cycle: Part 1

Essay Questions for 2023-24 Application Cycle: Part 1
A 5 min read

The MBA application season is a challenging yet exhilarating time for aspiring business leaders. The process requires introspection, clarity of goals, and a deep understanding of one’s fit with the desired programs. For the 2023-2024 application cycle, several top business schools have announced their essay questions, giving insights into what they seek in potential candidates.

Unlock your full potential with “My Essay Review,” your go-to source for personalized, effective essay strategies that make you stand out in this competitive MBA application process.

The essays play a vital role in showcasing an applicant’s uniqueness, aspirations, and alignment with the school. The questions often mirror the values and culture of the institution, and understanding these nuances can be pivotal in crafting compelling narratives.

Summary of Essay Types

Essay topics vary among schools, but some common themes and similarities can be identified. Here’s a summary:

  • Career Goals: Most schools ask for short and long-term career goals (Stanford, Haas, Columbia, Darden).
  • Community Contributions and Inclusive Impact: Questions focusing on contributions to community and experience in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (Wharton, Haas, Darden, Duke Fuqua).
  • Personal Insights and Self-Reflection: Unique insights into personal character, hobbies, achievements, and life experiences (HBS, Stanford, Berkeley Haas, Duke Fuqua’s 25 random things).

We suggest reading this article to gain in-depth understanding of MBA essay questions. –MBA Essay Questions for the 2023- 24 Application Cycle.

Comparison Table of Essay Questions

SchoolEssay Topics
HBSOpen-ended question
StanfordWhat matters most, Why Stanford
WhartonProfessional goals, Community contributions
Berkeley HaasWhat makes you alive, Career goals, Leadership principles, DEI experience
ColumbiaImmediate post-MBA goal, Inclusive leadership, Fit with Columbia
DardenClassmate introduction, DEI experience, Career goals
Duke FuquaPost-MBA career goals, 25 random things, Fuqua community contributions

Unlock your full potential with “My Essay Review,” your go-to source for personalized, effective essay strategies that make you stand out in this competitive MBA application process.

School-by-School Analysis

1) Harvard Business School (HBS)


  • Class Size: 1015 (Class of 2024)
  • Median GMAT Score: 730
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years

Essay: HBS asks an open-ended question about what more you would like them to know (900-word limit). Be authentic and focused, highlighting what sets you apart and how your experiences have shaped your goals. The open-ended nature allows for creativity, so don’t hesitate to share personal stories or unconventional career paths that align with your aspirations.

For detailed information please read this article –HBS Essay Analysis and Deadlines: 2023-24.

2) Stanford Graduate School of Business


  • Class Size: 424 (Class of 2024)
  • Average GMAT Score: 737
  • Average Work Experience: 4.9 years

Essay #1: What matters most to you, and why? (650 words) Essay #2: Why Stanford? (400 words).

Reflect deeply on your values and experiences for Essay A. Consider life-defining moments, failures, and lessons learned. For Essay B, articulate how Stanford’s unique resources align with your goals. Research specific classes, clubs, and professors to show a tailored fit.

For detailed information please read this article –Stanford GSB Essay Tips and Deadlines: 2023-24.

3) Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


  • Class Size: 874 (Class of 2025)
  • Average GMAT Score: 728
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years

Essay #1: Professional goals (500 words) Essay #2: Community contributions (400 words).

For Essay #1, be clear about your career trajectory and how Wharton fits into that plan. For Essay #2, highlight specific contributions you plan to make, drawing from past community involvement. Show that you understand Wharton’s culture of collaboration and innovation.

For detailed information please read this article –Wharton MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines -2023-24.

4) UC Berkeley Haas School of Business


  • Class Size: 247 (Class of 2024)
  • Median GMAT Score: 730
  • Average Work Experience: 5.6 years

Essay #1: What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (300 words) Essay #2: How have you specifically demonstrated one of Haas’s four leadership principles in your work? (300 words) Essay #3:How have your experiences shaped your perspective on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging? (300 words).

For Haas, being authentic is crucial. Share personal passions and insights for Essay #1, link specific experiences to Haas’s leadership principles for Essay #2, and offer concrete examples of your commitment to DEI for Essay #3.

Begin your GMAT preparation by delving into our comprehensive article – GMAT Preparation 2023 – How to prepare for the GMAT exam.

5) Columbia Business School


  • Class Size: 844 (Class entering 2022 – Jan and Aug) – enrolled
  • Average GMAT Score: 729
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years

Essay #1: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters) Essay #2: Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words) Essay #3: How will you leverage the CBS community? (250 words).

Be concise and specific in your post-MBA goals. Share a personal connection with the leader you admire, reflecting on how you embody similar qualities. Research Columbia’s community to illustrate a genuine fit and intent to engage actively.

6) University of Virginia Darden School of Business


  • Class Size: 352 (Class of 2025)
  • Median GMAT Score: 710
  • Median Work Experience: 5.3 years

Essay #1: Introduce yourself to your classmates. (150 words) Essay #2: Share a time when you learned something related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. (200 words) Essay #3: What are your short-term post-MBA career goals? (150 words).

Embrace the informal tone in Essay #1, revealing your personality and what you’ll bring to Darden’s community. Reflect on personal growth in Essay #2 and connect your career goals with Darden’s resources in Essay #3.

7) Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business


  • Class Size: 399 (Class of 2024)
  • GMAT Score Range: 680 – 760
  • Median Work Experience: 5.58 years

Essay #1: What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first-choice career plan and your alternate plan. (500 words) Essay #2: The “25 Random Things About Yourself.” (2 pages) Essay #3: How will you engage with the Fuqua community? (300 words).

Highlight both practical and aspirational career plans, showing flexibility and alignment with your skills. Embrace creativity in the “25 Random Things,” and show a deep understanding of Fuqua’s community, values, and how you’ll contribute.


The essay questions for the 2023-2024 application cycle reveal a keen interest in applicants’ career goals, community contributions, and personal insights. The challenge lies in authentic storytelling that resonates with the specific culture and opportunities of each school. Being thoughtful, self-aware, and specific can lead to compelling narratives that stand out in this competitive application process.


We would like to take a moment to express our profound gratitude for the invaluable contributions made to this article, that has benefited immensely from the wisdom, expertise, and experience of Poonam Tandon.

Poonam Tandon

Poonam Tandon

Poonam Tandon, Founder of MyEssayReview, has been instrumental in shaping the narrative of this article. Her profound insight into the intricacies of the subject matter has provided us with a fresh perspective and a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Poonam’s reputation as one of the top 5 admission consultants at GMAT Club, among more than 300 experts, underscores her proficiency and relentless dedication to her craft.

We are especially grateful for her contributions given the immense impact she has had on students’ lives, assisting them in securing over $5M in scholarships. Her commitment to her students and her drive for their success is evident in the numerous reviews and testimonials that bear witness to her effectiveness and dedication. To learn more about Poonam’s work and impact, we invite you to read her reviews [here] and hear firsthand from her students [here].

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