An MBA applicant gets ready to take notes on the Kellogg MBA Essays

Everything you Need to Know About the Kellogg MBA Essays

August 13, 2021
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Part 1. Introduction Part 2. Purpose of the Kellogg MBA EssaysPart 3. What Are the Kellogg MBA Essays?Part 4. Top Tips for Crafting the Kellogg MBA EssaysPart 5. Kellogg MBA Essay ExamplePart 6. FAQsPart 7. Conclusion


The Kellogg MBA essays can be the most challenging part of the school’s application process. But, in reality, they are an opportunity to showcase your authentic self to the admissions committee. In your essays, you can present what best separates you from the rest of the applicants - your personality.

While this may seem straightforward, it can be challenging to know the best approach to selling yourself as an applicant in your essays. Besides being familiar with your strengths, you must know what structure, craft methods, and information would be best to include in your essay for the best chances of admittance.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the Kellogg MBA essays and provide tips on how to craft your essays for the best chance of a successful evaluation when applying to the Kellogg School of Management. 

Purpose of the Kellogg MBA Essays 

The written and video essays fall under Kellogg’s holistic review process, with no essay being more important than the other. The admissions committee is looking to fill the spots with students that will excel in the classroom and contribute to the community with the ultimate goal to create the most diverse class possible. The school values intellectual ability, leadership, impact, work experience, professional goals, and interpersonal skills, all of which can be displayed in your MBA essays. 

The Kellogg MBA essays consist of two written and three video essays. The written essays are meant to allow you to explain why you feel you belong at Kellogg. Many MBA programs are offered worldwide, so the admissions committee wants to ask you: Why Kellogg?

In these essays, you are encouraged to evaluate past experiences and consider how they influenced your personal and academic goals. This personal reflection will make it easier to discern your values and aspirations based on personal anecdotes and your reactions to adversity.

The three video essays are meant to bring the written essays to life. Personality can be hard to gauge through words alone, and this is remedied with the video essays. These videos will present your personality, highlighting your true authentic self. The video essays would also be another opportunity to reflect and share experiences that shaped you on your path to pursuing an MBA. These essays encourage you to be open and deeply consider how you got to where you are today.

What Are the Kellogg MBA Essays?

Essay 1

The first written essay usually focuses on challenges and experiences in leadership; the admissions committee wants to know what you learned in leadership positions and how you created value from these experiences. This essay will provide insight into your leadership qualities and determine how you will utilize these traits as a Kellogg student.

In a leadership position you may also be asked to think critically about risk factors, which is an important skill to showcase as an applicant. You could provide anecdotes of times you demonstrated leadership and emphasize your involvement and impact on the community around you.

When explaining work experience, reflecting on career progression and critical thinking skills used in the workplace would be a great demonstration of what you’ve learned and how it has affected your ability to lead. 

Collaboration is highly valued at Kellogg and this dependence on collaboration makes your interpersonal skills vital to the admissions committee. With Kellogg being one of the first schools to utilize a team-based learning curriculum, leading a team to success effectively is essential as a potential admit.

Kellogg pioneered a learning method now used amongst other top business schools, making an innovative thought process important. Kellogg’s MBA program aims to inspire, educate, and equip students with the tools they need to create value as leaders.

This essay is an opportunity to illustrate how you can do that, what skills you already possess that will ensure your success, and how innovative you can be. It’s always helpful to be introspective, so you should ask yourself: Where have you been? Why do you need an MBA? What do you want to do next? 

Below is an example question for essay 1, which has been used once before in Kellogg’s application process: 

Ex. Essay 1 

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn?

Essay 2

The second written essay usually focuses on your values and how they have influenced you in your life thus far. The admissions committee wants to know what motivates you and how this drive will aid your contributions to the Kellogg community.

This essay question asks for some introspection, encouraging you to think about how you acquired your defining values and how you have, and will, utilize them in meaningful change. Unlike the first essay, this one may be the one that closely resembles the required video essays.

Both of the prompts allow the admissions committee to get to know you better, take away the academic obligations, and become more familiar with what makes you unique. This essay will be an opportunity for the committee to see if you possess the qualities needed to become a student that will be an asset to the Kellogg community. 

Below is an example question for essay two used once before in Kellogg’s application process: 

Ex. Essay 2

Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you, and how have they influenced you?

Video Essays

The purpose of the video essays is ultimately to get to know you better. Usually, you are allowed to introduce yourself and answer a question centered around how a current social or economic issue has influenced you. These video essays will bring your written essays to life, allowing the admissions committee to put a face to the intricately crafted essays you submitted.

Video essay 1 is merely an introduction; here, you will present anything you feel the admission committee should know about you and highlight your values. 

Video essay 2 asks about your professional goals and your interest in the Kellogg MBA program. This question could be seen as an extension of the first video essay but with a more academic and aspirational focus.

The broad nature of the question is purposefully designed to encourage you to write honest and meaningful answers that fit your aspirations precisely. A current social or economic issue will determine the final video essay. This essay intends to gauge your response to adversity and evaluate your understanding of significant societal problems. Video essay number three could also give you the chance to display how innovative you can be when presented with a difficult situation. 

Depending on the type of MBA program you’re applying to, additional questions will be asked along with the two required written essays. A one-year MBA applicant, for example, will have to answer a different additional question than a JD-MBA applicant would.

This difference is due to the specifications of each program. There are different sets of values desired in an admit for each MBA program, and which program you select should be based on your personal career goals. The additional question would ask what each specific program’s values mean to you and how they will influence your professional aspirations. 

Top Tips for Crafting the Kellogg MBA Essays 

1. Only Use Meaningful Info

Both the written and video essays have specific guidelines for their formatting and structure. The written essays should be 450 words each, and the additional program-based questions range from 250-450 words. For such broad questions, this word count may seem too small to condense your thoughts effectively.

With this in mind, the information presented in your essays should be meaningful and imperative to understanding your essay's main focus. Each sentence used should build off of one another, with filler being discouraged. Any info you feel is essential for the admissions committee to know, but does not align with the essay question you are answering, should be expressed in the application’s additional information section. 

2. Be Open and Honest

Know that there is no right way to answer the essay questions. Each question is looking for an honest answer from you, with profound reflection being a key factor in its effectiveness. You could consider these questions a test of your intrapersonal skills.

Before sitting down to write these essays, think about your values and how they have influenced you in your professional and academic work. This reflection will allow you to choose the values that resonate with you most. You should also consider accomplishments and personal events that align with the values you selected. By doing so, you will provide personal anecdotes in your essays to convey your individuality to the admissions committee. 

3. Research Kellogg and Practice 

Researching the school’s programs, activities, clubs, classes, and professors will make it easier for you to discuss how you plan to contribute to the Kellogg community. This method applies more to the written essays, which will gauge the involvement and impact you plan to make as a Kellogg MBA student.

You can assess what programs and activities you want to be a part of based on your passions and interests. The professors and classes you are excited to take will highlight your motivation to be admitted and make you stand out as a well-spoken and knowledgeable applicant. 

For the video essays, Kellogg provides practice questions for you to become familiar with the technology and format. You will have 20 seconds to think about the video question and a maximum of one minute to give your response.

This time constraint makes knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it very important to ensure your answers are eloquent. The practice questions will be much like the video essay you will submit, except you can complete them as often as you need to feel comfortable.

By practicing, you will get the chance to rid yourself of possible application jitters and avoid saying information that may not relate to the question. It is also essential to make sure you are in a space where you will not be interrupted, as you will not have the chance to redo the official video essay questions.

Remember to be yourself and enjoy the process. The admissions committee wants to know you as a person, so feel free to present your personality. 

Kellogg MBA Essay Example 

The following example is a sample introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion based on a past Kellogg MBA essay question. The sample answers the question: 

Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn?’ 

Sample Introduction:

“To marry my passion for art with my fervent desire to have a positive impact on society, outside my full-time job as a management consultant, I founded an NGO called [NAME] in 2015. Leveraging my strong business acumen, I ideated [NAME's] entire value chain - underprivileged women in [CITY] would be employed to make artisan jewelry, which my team of five peers and I would package, market, and sell to boutique fashion stores. All proceeds from this enterprise would go back to the women. “

This paragraph would be considered a successful introduction. Not only does it perfectly describe the leadership position in question, but it also provides some insight into who the applicant is in the first sentence. From the introduction alone, we know that this applicant has a passion for art and the desire to impact society positively.

The rest of the introduction describes the leadership position and what role they had in it, along with its purpose. The applicant provides this explanation concisely, with every sentence essential to the reader’s understanding. 

Sample Body Paragraph:

“Leading [NAME] has thoroughly challenged my grit, character, and ingenuity. My first major trial came just weeks after our inception. Social norms forbade many women from working, and getting raw materials to them proved to be a logistical nightmare. This started to take a toll on the team. Morale fell, and disagreements brewed.

That was when I realized the importance of persuasive communication as a leadership trait. I organized a weekend retreat to realign the team to our greater mission, especially since impact, and not money, would be our enabler. I ensured that learning from and empowering each other became the team’s mantra. Rejuvenated with a newfound cohesiveness, we convinced over 60 women to join us and creatively leveraged neighborhood suppliers to source raw materials.”

This is a successful and effective body paragraph, answering the last part of the essay question. This paragraph uses a structural approach that states and describes the challenge, lists the effects of said challenge, states the solution, and lists the solution’s outcome along with what they learned.

By structuring the body paragraph this way, each part of the question is answered thoroughly and is imperative to understanding the challenge presented. The section also highlights the applicant’s leadership qualities with a detailed personal anecdote that applies to the essay question; these qualities are what the admissions committee will be looking for.

Thus, by shining a light on your leadership ability and how you applied what you’ve learned, your essay will stand out from the rest. 

Sample Conclusion:

“To date, [NAME] has had a lasting impact on the lives of over 300 women. I am undoubtedly one of them. I am wiser with my learnings and more excited, inspired, and confident than ever to lead teams and leave a positive impact in the years to come.”

While this conclusion is concise, it provides everything needed to answer the essay question. The applicant provides the impact the challenge had on them, what they learned, and their desire to apply it to their future endeavors. The first sentence also highlights the impact the leadership position had on other people. This conclusion answers the essay question and sells the applicant as someone willing and excited to excel at Kellogg. 


1. When will I be able to submit the video essays?

The link to submit your video essays will appear on your application status page after submitting your application and application fee. 

2. When are the written and video essays due?

The written essays are due with your application, and the video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline. Kellogg has three application rounds. The first is usually mid September, the second is around the beginning of January and the third is around the beginning of April. The applications are expected to be submitted no later than 5pm Central time on the date of that rounds application deadline. International students are encouraged to apply in the first two rounds to allow time for visa processing. 

3. What qualities is the Kellogg admissions committee looking for in applicants?

The admissions committee is looking for intellectual ability, work experience, professional goals, leadership, impact, and interpersonal skills. You can display these qualities in your written and video essays. 

4. Is work experience required to apply to the Kellogg MBA program?

While work experience is not required, it is recommended that you have at least two years of full-time work experience. Kellogg believes this will improve your academic experience at Kellogg and enrich classroom discussion. 

5. When is the best time to submit my application?

Applications are accepted in all three rounds, but the prime time to apply would be in the first two rounds. This early application allows time for visa processing and will enable you to stand out in the applicant pool. 

6. Are there different essay requirements for reapplicants?

Reapplicants must answer the same essay questions as first-year applications. They will also be required to submit their response to an additional reapplicant essay question that asks for an update on their professional and academic career since they last applied. 


Writing the Kellogg MBA essay can produce feelings of angst and nervousness. But with the necessary personal reflection and proper planning, this nervousness can seem silly by the time your application is submitted. By being yourself, researching the university, and providing meaningful answers when crafting your essays, you are sure to produce an essay that makes you stand out in the applicant pool.

Remember, there is no right way to answer the questions, and the admissions committee is looking for an authentic personality. So relax, be yourself, and you’ll be sure to succeed on your journey to becoming a Kellogg admit when you’re writing the Kellogg MBA essay.

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At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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