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Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua Short-Answer Essay Questions

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay (Short-Answer)

Q1) Why is pursuing an MBA the right next step for you?

Q2) What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan.

Scenario #1: Maximized the career progression


Be careful how you structure this narrative as any form of exaggeration and misinformation could be easily recognized as most competing applicants also use a similar narrative.


Without an MBA, most applicants reach a team lead or equivalent position in 3-5 years. For those who switched jobs 2-3 times, they could maximize their title with a Project Manager role, but the transition is likely to be in a start-up where the years of experience is not a restriction in taking over the managerial position.

The admission team recognizes the nuanced movements in your career. An unnecessary explanation is not required. Just a statement confirming the dynamics is sufficient.

Sample Why MBA Right Next Step for you (100 Words) (Gap in Knowledge in Strategy and Finance)

Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (99 Words)(Marketing for FinTech)

Scenario #2: Maximized the on-job opportunities

Another show, but don’t tell approach, is to mention the on-job opportunities you had maximized. Applicants who voluntarily take on more responsibilities across functions – working on extra-curricular initiatives for the company (events, trekking trips, and volunteering) and shadowing for a cross-functional or leadership role are examples of those who maximize on-job opportunities.

An MBA might have become a topic of conversation from supervisors, or you recognized a gap in skills that requires a break from the full-time job and a deep dive into finance, strategy, operations, and marketing. Recognize the specific need and mention it in the essay. Don’t generalize.

You can mention building a foundation in general management – the most commonly cited reason, but if it is relevant for your story, it will work.

Sample Why MBA Right Next Step for you (98 Words)(Engineering to Marketing)

Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (94 Words)(Marketing Consulting firm and Product Marketing)

Scenario #3: Goals that require new skills

It could be an engagement with a non-profit or an exposure to a client’s specific needs, applicants often encounter interesting career paths that are in stark contrast to what they are currently doing.

For a finance professional, the passion to create a virtual reality platform for visualizing data turned into an interest in augmented reality and later sneaked into his passion for interior designing. If the applicant mentions an MBA as a career transition into interior designing, the admission team would be puzzled with the career choice. But with the right backstory and a bigger goal – starting a venture offering efficient and aesthetic interior space, the transition won’t seem outrageous.

Sample Why MBA Right Next Step for you (100 Words) (Hobby to Business)

Sample Post-MBA Career Goals (99 Words) (Interior Design Business using AR)




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