The Wharton MBA essays are an essential aspect of your application. By allowing a deeper look into your values, experiences, and motivations, your essay submissions significantly affect the way Wharton’s admissions committee views your MBA candidacy. This information can cause the writing process to seem extremely intimidating, but you don’t need to fret. This article outlines everything you need to know about the Wharton MBA essays.
What Are the Wharton MBA Essays?
Typically, there are two essay prompts in the Wharton MBA application, along with one optional prompt. There are also essays specifically for those applying to joint-degree programs and an additional essay for reapplicants.
The Wharton MBA essay prompts can change from year to year. However, you can find many of the same themes and ideas in the various essay questions. Here are some examples of past Wharton MBA essay prompts:
What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
This essay is pretty straightforward – How will Wharton benefit you?
Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)
This prompt might take a bit more thought. What qualities, experiences, or skills can you use to contribute to the Wharton School?
Essay 3 - Required Essay for all Reapplicants:
Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)
This essay is an excellent way for reapplicants to highlight any growth they have had since the previous application cycle.
Essay 4 - Optional Essay:
Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.
While this essay is optional, it can be a good space to clear up any issues that the admissions committee could have with your candidacy.
As you can see, these essays are meant to be relatively brief yet provide personal insights into who you are as a person. Using these prompts as examples, this article will outline the best ways to approach your Wharton MBA essays.
Purpose of the Wharton MBA Essays
You can find the following statement on Wharton’s website regarding their MBA essays:
“The Admissions Committee is looking to understand more about you and your unique personality and how that can ultimately contribute to the Wharton community. We are a student-driven campus and need each and every MBA to bring something to the table.”
There are many essential pieces of information that you can glean from this statement about the purpose of the Wharton MBA essays.
1. The Wharton MBA essays allow the admissions committee to see your personality.
The admissions committee has your resume and test scores, meaning that they already know the basics of your education and experience on a professional level. Essays are a way for them to dig a bit deeper and learn about who you are as a person, the events that have impacted you, and the values that you have gained through your experiences.
2. The Wharton MBA essays portray what you can contribute to the community and how well you can collaborate with others.
Business school is a great place to strengthen your skills and further your career on an individual level. However, what ideas or experiences can you bring to Wharton that will benefit your classmates or the program as a whole? The essays show the admissions committee how you will serve as an addition to the Wharton MBA program.
3. The Wharton MBA essays portray your leadership capabilities.
By stating that they are a “student-driven campus,” the admissions committee shows that they are looking for people that can carry out plans and lead their classmates toward goals that will benefit the program overall. This statement also indicates that the committee is looking for individuals who can find problems and work to solve them, creating change effectively.
By keeping these ideas in mind, you can then begin crafting your own essays.
Top Tips for Crafting the Wharton MBA Essays
Now that you understand the primary purpose of the essays and the possible themes, here are some tips to help you determine how to craft your Wharton MBA Essays.
Wharton’s website outlines these three tips for writing your MBA essays:
1. Write out everything first, then worry about word count.
The essays are pretty short, and when it comes to your career aspirations or your background, you might have a lot more to say than just 400 or 500 words. The short word count can make the writing process intimidating, as you might be constantly checking the word count and hesitating to write anything out in detail.
When writing your first draft, ignore the word count; just get your ideas out there. Then, once you’ve finished, start looking for areas to cut out or shorten. By doing this, you can get through the writing process while also ensuring that you include everything you want to portray.
2. Connect the “Three Career Dots.”
Wharton’s website outlines these “three career dots” as follows:
“What have you done to date, what unique things do you already know, and what do you have still to learn? How can Wharton help you and how can you help the Wharton community? How does that all connect to your goals post-MBA?”
Basically, in the Wharton MBA Essays, your past, present, and future should connect. What are some unique skills and experiences that you have gained through your studies or career that you can bring to Wharton’s MBA program? What do you hope to gain from Wharton, and how does that relate to your future career goals? By answering these questions, you can begin to paint a holistic picture of your hopes and aspirations for the Wharton MBA program.
3. Be yourself.
Writing these essays is a process that will already be difficult enough, and being anything but authentic will only make it more challenging. Don’t write what you think an admissions committee wants to hear; be true to yourself and your goals in your essays, and it will pay off in the long run.
Here are some additional tips for crafting your Wharton MBA essays:
1. Do your research.
Why are you applying to Wharton? What makes this school a suitable program for you? Which classes are you hoping to take, or which faculty members are you excited to meet? By being specific about Wharton’s program, you will show an admissions committee that you have extensively researched the program, know what you are getting into, and understand how Wharton can help you achieve your goals.
2. Make sure you are answering the prompt.
This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but it is a common mistake that many applicants make. Maybe there was an impactful experience in your career that made you want to pursue an MBA, or you have a unique background that you want to express in your essay.
These are important details about who you are, but are those experiences applicable to the essay prompts' specifications?
Sometimes, the most exciting or unique stories aren’t the most relevant. Everything in your essay should serve a purpose, and if you cannot relate that purpose to the question Wharton is asking, then it might be time to cut some things out.
3. Less storytelling, more concrete points.
This tip relates to the previous one. You have a minimal amount of space in these essays, so make sure that every word has a purpose. Don’t fill your essay with a long story about the moment you decided to pursue an MBA or a detailed history of your childhood. If these events are important, you can briefly mention them, but try to focus on your skills, goals, and why Wharton is right for you.
Wharton MBA Essay Example and What Made It Successful
The following is an excerpt from a successful Wharton MBA Essay written for the 1st previously mentioned example prompt.
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
Innovation in healthcare has historically existed in two spheres: the sophisticated yet aspirational, and the simple yet practical. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin; from developing AI for cancer detection and intensive care while at [University] to now dissecting commercially-successful healthcare businesses at [Company]. The bridge between aspiration and result in healthcare is fraught with well-known obstacles to innovation.
In this introduction, the writer brings up their past and present career experiences and explains how those experiences have shaped their understanding of the healthcare field. They also introduce an existing problem, thus setting up the rest of the essay for how they hope to solve this problem.
Body Paragraph 1:
My overarching goal is to bridge this gap and develop next-generation AI to mitigate physician and nurse burnout. By building and commercializing tools that reliably automate routine elements of patient care, I wish to create a more resource-efficient and outcome-centric global healthcare system. I’ve cultivated the raw engineering and business skills at [University], [Company], and [Company], and the Wharton MBA will equip me with the venture toolkit, network, and relevant healthcare entrepreneurship skills to succeed.
Having established the existing problems that the writer has observed in the healthcare field, they now drive the essay forward with how they hope to solve those issues. They also outline the skills they’ve learned through their past experiences and explain how the Wharton MBA will further develop those skills.
Body Paragraph 2:
Central to the lasting success of my MBA experience would be the Wharton community. The prospect of developing lifelong relationships and collaborating with accomplished peers through the cluster model inspires and excites me. I also look forward to mentorship opportunities from professors like Christian Terweisch. I often used his concept of innovation tournaments to drive collaboration at client organizations as a management consultant.
Here, the writer explains in detail how Wharton will help them to achieve their goals. By mentioning the cluster model and the mentorship opportunities that Wharton offers, the writer shows the admissions committee that they have done their research. Also, by naming professor Christian Terweisch, the writer further establishes that they understand how the Wharton MBA program, in particular, will assist them in pursuing their aspirations.
Wharton startups such as Burrow and Harry’s have revolutionized numerous industries, transformed value chains, and changed millions of lives worldwide. Standing at this critical juncture in my career, I am excited to follow in their footsteps, realize my true potential, and build an organization that improves healthcare around the world. For that, I see no better platform than a Wharton MBA.
In this conclusion paragraph, the writer gives examples of successful products of the Wharton MBA program and how those startups specifically benefited the world. This connects to the writer’s previously mentioned goal of creating change in the healthcare field. The writer shows that they understand how Wharton can help them take the necessary steps in building their career.
Overall, this essay incorporates all of the tips mentioned above. The writer briefly summarizes their past experiences, what they learned, and the issues they observed in the healthcare field.
Then, the writer links the past to the present, detailing how their experiences have contributed to their current goals. They then discuss the future, outlining how specific aspects of Wharton’s MBA program will help them achieve their career aspirations.
Each sentence has a purpose, and overall, the writer connects past, present, and future to concisely answer the prompt.
1. Should I answer the optional Wharton MBA essay prompt?
The optional essay prompt is a great way to address any discrepancies you might have in your application, including poor academic performance, gaps in your resume, or low test scores. Use this essay to clear up any lingering questions that an admissions committee might have regarding your candidacy.
2. I’m reapplying to the Wharton MBA program; Do I have to answer essay prompts 1 and 2? Or can I resubmit my previous essays?
Wharton requires reapplicants to answer both essay prompts 1 and 2 and a prompt specifically for reapplicants. The writing prompts may change from year to year, so your previous submissions may not be entirely relevant anymore. If the prompts haven’t changed, it is still a good idea to reevaluate the quality of your past essays.
3. Is it okay to submit essays that I used for other applications if the prompts are similar?
Generally, you should avoid submitting the same essay that you’ve used for another school. You can use pieces from other essays you’ve written, but you need to make sure that you tailor your Wharton MBA essays explicitly to the Wharton MBA program.
Different programs have varying missions and values, so using the same essays for every application will not benefit your application.
4. What should I talk about in my Wharton MBA essays?
Generally, the purpose of essays is to “make the invisible visible,” meaning that they are a place to show the admissions committee a side of you that they cannot see anywhere else in your application. Rather than listing experiences that the admissions committee can already find in your resume, try to focus on things you’ve learned or your future goals.
5. If I’m applying to a joint-degree program at Wharton, do I have to write additional essays?
Those applying to the Francis J. & William Polk Carey/JD MBA program “are strongly encouraged to answer the application essay questions in relation to the Carey JD/MBA Program as opposed to only the Wharton MBA Program.” Those applying to the Wharton/Lauder Institute Joint-Degree Program must answer one additional Lauder prompt.
6. Can I write about my undergraduate experiences in the Wharton MBA essays?
Your undergraduate years were likely full of learning opportunities and growth, which is why briefly mentioning them could be insightful in your essays. However, don’t make them the focus of your essay, especially if you have several years of work experience.
Use your undergraduate experiences to establish where you came from and how much you’ve grown, and then connect them to your present motivations and future goals.
The Wharton MBA essays offer the admissions committee a brief glimpse into your personality and motivations. The writing process may seem intimidating at first, but just make sure to stay true to yourself and don’t focus on word count in your first draft. Then, in the editing process, you can evaluate areas to cut and refine, focus on connecting the past, present, and future, and highlight why you chose Wharton in particular.
By following these tips and tricks, you can craft an essay that genuinely portrays who you are and why you would be a great fit at the Wharton School of Business.