Schools measure your preparedness and research by analyzing how you quote the curriculum. The ‘Why MBA’ question needs a few lines dedicated to the specificity of the program. Here are a few pointers worth considering before you include curriculum details:
1) Curriculum Structure
General Management programs – Harvard, Stanford, Darden, and Haas, have continued the tradition of building the foundational knowledge in the core courses with the coverage of traditional management topics – Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Leadership and Strategy, followed by 2nd year specialization either in the form of concentrations, specialization, themes or tracks.
In concentrations, the admission team has divided the electives into broader categories so that the candidates will have a structure in 2nd year when they choose the electives. Most General Management MBA programs will give the option to pick electives without specialization. Stanford has General Management as an Area of interest. If you want a leadership role post-MBA, taking a group of courses with strong General Management focus would be ideal. For career switchers, interested in a job function, choosing specialization is mandatory.
More Curriculum Analysis with the Ultimate Guide
During our consulting service, we get questions on whether switching industry is easy. And if so how to quote the curriculum. The answer is a little tricky. Despite the school’s nimbleness in changing the curriculum, most recruitment in diverse industries happens in top tier schools (top 10). Any school outside the ranking will have a tough time placing candidates in niche industries.
Location of the school is another factor. If the school is in a state/city/country known for Automobile/Aerospace/Manufacturing/Winery/Fashion/Sports, attracting recruiters is easy as the logistical challenges are limited and the career service team would have already established a relationship with the recruiters. If the school’s curriculum has a track or concentrations in the niche industry, it is safe to assume that the career service team is actively searching for recruiters in the industry. Despite the best efforts of the team, we have seen the school in tier-2 struggling to find opportunities in niche sectors. For essays, you can quote the concentration/track, but in reality, it would be much tougher to make the switch.
There is another reason. The best pay packages are offered in Consulting, Finance, and Technology. Overall Business School ranking depends on post-MBA salary. It is unlikely that the school would dedicate their placement efforts on industries where the salary falls below the median of the class. That is why few candidates choose non-profit or Entrepreneurship (start-up) opportunities, post-MBA. Additional pressure from peers to choose the most lucrative career path is not easy to withstand despite moving accounts of impact and change narrated in essays.
Most MBA candidates who pursue non-traditional goals do it on their own terms without involving the career service team. Some Employment reports exclude students seeking Entrepreneurial opportunities from the final data to avoid impact on their post-MBA salary data.
If you are an Entrepreneurial applicant, first define what Entrepreneurship is for you, before pursuing an MBA.
3) Electives and Curriculum Customizability
1-Year MBA program is not a direct threat to the traditional 2-year MBA programs in the top 10 rankings, but the poaching of talents from the application pool has forced the US schools in the 10-30 ranking to bring customizability in the first year itself. McCombs MBA, for instance, has a flexible core with work and leadership experience integrated in the first year itself. The only top MBA program, offering core elective is MIT Sloan. The Full-time MBA gives students elective option in Managerial Finance, Intro to Operations, Marketing Management, and Competitive Strategy.
Electives are a big part of the MBA experience. The real learning happens in the 2nd year. Most schools have concentrations/majors/themes/tracks/specializations in the 10-15 range. MBA program with majors/tracks will mention that explicitly in the certificate. Always remember, in an economic downturn, specialists are preferred over a generalist. Post-1980, we have a cyclic boom and bust in the economy, every 10 years. Prepare for the worst, and choose a specialization if you have found a career path.
Here is a snapshot of the themes/concentrations/majors/specializations/tracks for the top 15 MBA programs in the US
Read Ultimate Guide for details
4) Experiential Learning
Second to internship, what makes MBA program withstand the bubbles and busts is the emphasis on offering experiential learning opportunities. Schools in New York (Stern, Columbia, and Cornell) have taken advantage of the financial centers and the concentration of the Media industry with lecture series, seminars, industry visits, and networking around the City. In addition to reducing travel time, most candidates choose the program with New York as a clear post-MBA location.
For other schools with strength in consulting (Kellogg, Harvard, and Stanford), the emphasis is on Global Experiential learning. Most likely, a Management Consultant will have to dedicate 60-65% of their time traveling to a client location and work in an unfamiliar environment. Therefore, it makes sense to train the candidate to travel and work on tight deadlines.
Close to half of Kellogg's Full-time and Part-time MBA students participate in the annual Global Initiatives in Management (GIM) where the students have to travel to an international location and spend close to 2-weeks interacting with government officials, and business leaders while developing a deeper understanding of the problem they are trying to solve.
At Stanford, Global Management Immersion Experience (GMIX), takes students to the client location in a new industry they are likely to work post-MBA and experience the culture. Harvard takes the meaning of experiential learning quite literally with the FIELD Global Immersions where students have to develop a product or service in collaboration with a partner organization. The variations are many for top MBA programs with each school bringing its own unique touch to the experience Understanding the differences is important to quote them in the essay. Read Ultimate Guide or Winning MBA Essay Guide, before creating a narrative around experiential learning.
For 2-year MBA programs, almost all candidates choose internships unless they are pursuing an Entrepreneurial path. Instead of plainly mentioning internship opportunities in essays, dig deep and find the conversion rate and performance data.
1) What percentage of internships converts to a full-time offer?
2) Which industry is the most popular in internships?
3) What function is the most popular in internships?
4) Which Employer has a long-standing reputation of picking the most interns?
Mention the industry/function for internships. If you have chosen Consulting, most likely you will be working for a non-profit and hone your consulting skills. But if you are planning to switch careers into Finance, an internship is an excellent route to full-time offers. Specify the preferred employer by analyzing the latest Employment report.
6) One Paragraph vs. Spreading Out
When we review essays, the biggest challenge has been spreading the curriculum mentions across the essay. We can’t blame the applicants. The first part of the ‘Why MBA’ questions will always involve motivation.
Applicants dedicate the opening paragraph on interesting life stories to connect with ‘Why MBA’ now. When the applicant switches the narrative to the specifics of the curriculum, they list out the most relevant part of the program, without thinking about the narrative. The result is an interesting first paragraph and then a list of courses/experiential learning they like. That is not what the admission team is expecting. You have to use elements of storytelling equally while mentioning curriculum. It is tricky, but we can help you with our Essay Review Service.
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80+ Sample Essays + Essay Writing, Review & Editing Tips + 15 School-Specific Tips = Winning MBA Essay Guide
Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
ATTENTION is the secret ingredient. How will you get the attention of the essay reviewer?
You know why parables shared 1000 years ago are still shared among us?
Yes, the art of storytelling has won presidency for Obama, transformed Apple from an unknown start-up to a brand synonymous with Quality, and gained admission for the average MBA Applicant.
F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay guide will teach you how to transform your essay to an epic life journey with trials and tribulations that will move the admission team.
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If your essay looks too bland, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you, with examples, on how to use the elements of Storytelling like Incorporating "The Struggle", Using Emotional connectors, narrating the Journey and the use of Chronology, Vividness and Active Verbs to transform your essays.
If you are stuck in the Writing process, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to silence the Analytic Mind and overcome mental blocks.
If you feel that the essays are not persuasive, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will teach you how to use the W-Pattern narrative, Contexts, Turning Points and "The Show Don't Tell Approach" to write a Winning MBA Essay.
If you don't have enough leadership experience, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will show you how to highlight non-obvious qualities like Trust, Focus, Listening Skills, Personal Responsibility, Humility, Self-Knowledge, and other secondary traits to prove your leadership.
If you don't know how to review your essays, our Winning MBA Essay Guide will demonstrate how to improve readability with the power of iteration, and maintain your original voice by removing review biases.
Winning MBA Essay Guide Includes
+Harvard MBA Essay Tips (2020 Entering Class) (NEW)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Gratitude & Giving Back (318 Words)
Sample Harvard MBA Essay – Entrepreneurship (Influence of Childhood) (667 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 1: Enterprise Technology to Consumer Marketing (496 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 2: Healthcare (Finance to Consulting) (499 Words)
Sample Goals Essay 3: FinTech (Product Manager to Strategy) (482 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 1: Value from NYC (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 2: Entrepreneur Mindset (Persistence/Creativity/Opportunity Seeking) (237 Words)
Sample Columbia Good Fit Essay 3: Teamwork and Learning (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #1 (Elon Musk) (250 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #2 (Father) (244 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #3 (Mother) (243 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #4 (Math Teacher) (242 Words)
Sample Columbia MBA Leader I admire Essay #5 (Co-Founder) (250 Words)
Sample Essay #2: Math Tutoring and Experimental music’s value for the Wharton Community (388 Words)
Sample Essay #2: Non-Profit – Obesity Epidemic and Healthy Lifestyle at Wharton (399 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Consulting)(400 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA Essay (Tech Entrepreneur) (390 words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switching (Finance to Green Energy Consulting) (389 Words)
Sample Why Stanford MBA: Career Switching (Private Equity to Operations) (399 Words)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (740 Words)(Balance in Life)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (750 Words)(Vulnerability and Learning)
Sample Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (748 Words)(Freedom and Commitment)
Sample Goals Essay #1: Oil & Gas to Consulting (475 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #2: Social IMPACT to Marketing (Non-Profit) (472 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #3: Accounting to Entrepreneurship (Fashion)(495 Words)
Sample Goals Essay #4: Technology (Programming to Product Development) (493 Words)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices in Life Essay #1 (492 Words)(Technologist - Father’s Restaurant Business and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices in Life Essay #2 (639 Words) (Education - Teach for America and Leadership)
Sample Leadership Experience & Choices in Life Essay #3 (496 Words)(Physician - Opioid Crisis and Healthcare Innovation)
Sample Essay: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses (Marketing Lead) (499 Words)
Sample Essay: Candid Description, Strengths & Weaknesses (Consulting to Product Development) (492 Words)
Sample Essay: Achievements and Failures (398 Words) (Technology Consultant)
Sample Essay: Achievements and Failures (395 Words) (International Relations) (Negotiations)
Sample Essay: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are (272 Words) (Hiking and Vlogging)
Sample Essay: Extra-Curricular and How enriched you are (298 Words) (Improv Acting)
+ Haas MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Non-Profit
Sample MBA Essay: Technology
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing
Sample MBA Essay: Getting Fired
Sample MBA Essay: Diverse and Inclusive Culture
Sample MBA Essay: Leadership
Sample MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goal & How Pre-MBA Experience will help
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Investment Banking (IB)(404 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Consulting (447 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Technology (448 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Marketing (491 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Entrepreneurship (496 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: IMPACT Investing (495 Words)
Sample Yale SOM MBA Essay: Oil & Gas to Clean Energy (Consulting) (464 Words)
+ Ross MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample MBA Essay: Finance Professional who was a former member of a rock band (96 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Marketing Professional with a hidden talent to do Impression (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Life Philosophy through the prism of an Entrepreneurial failure (94 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Consulting for a Pharma Giant (Made a Difference) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Three-Level Sanitation Campaign (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Water Conservation Kit (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Losing client (100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Misreading Market Conditions (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Strategic Planning vs. Tactical Dominance in Chess (97 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone(extra-curricular) (93 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Out of my comfort zone (Daily Science Show) (99 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: Simplifying Operations for Manufacturing (extra-curricular) (90 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Leadership and Culture) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Technology Project and Last-minute change) (98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I am aware that I am different (Making Business metrics relevant to a Creative team) (91 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Timidity)(98 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Laziness)(100 Words)
Sample MBA Essay: I find it Challenging when People (Pessimism) (96 Words)
Sample Essay – Short-term Goals and why the goal is the right choice for you (Technology to Marketing)(299 Words)
Sample Short-term Goals Essay – Technology to Consulting (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Consulting for Government (100 Words)
Sample Long-term Goals Essay – Plan B (89 Words)
Framework for Answering the Duke Fuqua 25 Random Things
Sample Duke Fuqua Essay: The Fuqua community and you (Max 2 Pages)
+ NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips (2019 Entering Class)
Sample NYU Stern Essay 1: Goals (498 Words) (Finance)
5 Examples with Images
Cover Letter Checklist
Sample Cover Letter – Technology to Consulting (284 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Healthcare Entrepreneurship (297 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Consulting to Technology (298 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Wealth Management to FinTech (299 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Manufacturing to Consulting (Retail) (299 Words)
Sample Cover Letter – Strategy to Consulting (297 Words)
Sample Essay: Demonstrated Leadership, the challenges you faced and what you learned (Technology) (447 Words)
Sample Essay: Demonstrated Leadership, the challenges you faced and what you learned (Non-Profit) (441 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you? (Changing the Traditional Recruitment Formula)(443 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you?(Seniority-Based to Performance-based Culture)(444 Words)
Sample Essay: Values important to you and how have they influenced you?(From machine-centric to Human-centric customer support)(446 Words)
London as the Financial Hub
London as the Technology Hub
London as the Consulting Hub
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (493 Words)(Hospitality to Consulting)
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (500 Words)(Government/Non-Profit to Technology)
Sample LBS MBA Essay: Post-MBA Goals (495 Words)(Medical Doctor to Investment Banking)
+ Sample Essays
+ The Art of Storytelling
+ Leadership Narratives
+ Review Tips
+ Persuasion Strategies
+ The Secret to "unleashing" your unique voice
+ How to write about your Strengths