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  • Malvika Patil

How to Answer "Why MBA" and Get Admitted

Every top MBA program wants to understand why you need an MBA. These are some of the essay prompts by schools asking “Why MBA?”:

Dartmouth Tuck: Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck? (300 words)

Chicago Booth: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

ESADE: What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about Esade you think will help you reach your goals? (3000 characters)

For many MBA candidates, the motivation to pursue an MBA is simple: to rise up the career ladder. But to get admitted into a top program, you’ll need to go deeper. These are the questions that you should answer in your “Why MBA” essay: 

  • Which hard skills do you need to progress in your career?

  • How will the MBA will give you the hard skills you need?

  • What about soft skills?

  • Why is now the right time to pursue an MBA?

  • How will a network of MBAs peers boost your career?

How to answer the “Why MBA” question

We recommend using this structure to write your “Why MBA?” essay:

1. Tell a story: Storytelling is a powerful tool to demonstrate what you care about. Business schools are looking for purpose-driven leaders, so your story should explain this professional purpose. The story will help the AdCom better understand your goals and how you reached these goals.

2. Goals: Your post-MBA goals should allow you to fulfill your professional purpose. Divide these into clear, specific short-term and long-term goals. Your short-term goal is what you’ll do immediately after the MBA. This goal should be ambitious enough to make you stand out as a candidate who can boost the school’s statistics like their overall salary numbers, the employers that they attract, and successful start-up founding alumni. It should also be relevant to your MBA and the leadership, communication, or other hard and soft skills you will learn. Your goal can be different from what you do now, but it should be realistic. Candidates pursue MBAs to get exposure to other roles, industries, and geographies. After their MBA, they typically seek to pivot to a different role, industry, or location. For example, pivoting from Communications in Tech to Strategy in Tech is a reasonable, realistic short-term goal. While it isn’t unheard of for candidates to switch all 3 aspects of their career, such a major pivot may look unrealistic to the AdCom. Your long-term goal can be more ambitious and less specific! But remember that it should be a reasonable continuation from your short-term goal. For example, gaining enough experience in your industry to set up your own entrepreneurial venture in 10-15 years time. This long-term goal should be linked to the professional purpose you established in your story earlier in this essay. 

3. Previous Experience: Showing previous experience in your target role/industry builds credibility and assures the AdCom that you are capable of achieving these goals. You may mention hard skills relevant to your goals, like strategic thinking, negotiations, financial modeling, or softer skills like cross-cultural communication, languages, empathy, or time management.

4. Skills you need: While your previous experience may have given you some of the skills you’ll need to succeed in your post-MBA goals, there are others that you can only get from an MBA. Perhaps you’ve reached an inflection point in your career where you need these skills to make a pivot to your target role, or want to build a bigger network, or want to invest in yourself.  Explain the specific skills that the MBA can offer you; these could cover any technical gaps like accounting, strategy, marketing, communications, data analysis, or train you in softer skills like management, networking, collaborating with diverse teams, public speaking, presentations, etc. It’s important here to clearly outline and research your target role and industry to understand what you need. Don’t be afraid to discuss these skills gaps! The AdCom is looking for a cohort that wants to learn and grow from each other.

5. How you'll get them at this school: When schools ask why you need an MBA, they also want to know why you need their MBA. Think: what makes this school uniquely beneficial for your post-MBA goals? You can highlight the school’s coursework, specific electives and concentrations, faculty members and research opportunities, school clubs, student communities, experiential learning opportunities, alumni network, and international programs. You can also consider the school’s location, especially if it is in close proximity to industry hubs (make sure this doesn’t sound like a visa grab, though!). Finally, you may also want to mention the school’s career opportunities and outcomes. Schools regularly publish employment reports on the post-MBA career tracks, starting salaries, industries, geographies, and companies for each graduating class. Do your research and find out if the school is a good fit for your goals, and if it is a good pipeline for major recruiters in your target industry. And remember that while you’re discussing what you’ll take from the MBA, it’s also a good opportunity to discuss what you’ll contribute, and how you’ll enrich their community, such as by taking on leadership roles in clubs and organizing conferences.

Conclude your essay by linking back to your story - the lessons from your career journey that you will bring to your MBA, and how these will help you in the classroom and beyond. 

Want a real example “Why MBA” essay based on our successful applicants? Go to for more guidance on how to write powerful MBA essays, complete with 100+ real essay examples.


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