A Yale MBA applicant writes her essay

Everything You Need To Know About The Yale MBA Essay

February 24, 2024
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Purpose of the Yale MBA EssayWhat is the Yale MBA Essay?Yale MBA Essays ExamplesTop Tips for Crafting the Yale MBA EssayFAQs

Purpose of the Yale MBA Essay

The Yale MBA Essay is a required component of the application process to their full-time MBA program. In addition to the essay, you must also submit your official GMAT or GRE scores, academic transcripts, a professional business resume, two letters of recommendation, and an online behavioral assessment. 

An interview is also a necessary part of the application process. However, this is a secondary component that is only “offered by invitation on a rolling basis.”

Yale SOM’s essay question is “meant to elicit self-reflection.” The admissions committee is looking for genuine responses to their prompt so that they can get a sense of who you are. 

If you allow them to familiarize themselves with you, it will make it easier for them to decide if you’re the kind of person they would like to add to their next cohort or not. Essentially, your essay is a way for you to sell yourself, which is why it requires extra caution when you decide what to include and leave out.

What is the Yale MBA Essay?

You have the following three prompts to choose from for the MBA essay

  1. Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. Why is this commitment meaningful to you and what actions have you taken to support it?
  2. Describe the community that has been most meaningful to you. What is the most valuable thing you have gained from being a part of this community and what is the most important thing you have contributed to this community?
  3. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced. How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person?

The best essays are the ones that genuinely matter to you, so let that be your compass in selecting your topic. Don't worry about trying to guess what the committee wants to hear; focus on what's important to you. 

Choose the prompt that resonates with you the most and gets you excited to share your story. Reflect on the life experiences that have shaped you the most and choose the question that allows you to express yourself authentically. 

Remember to back up your essay with specific examples. Aim for around 500 words, but don't stress too much about hitting that exact number.

Yale MBA Essays Examples

Here are several examples of Yale MBA essays that showcase applicants' experiences, motivations, and aspirations.

Essay Example #1

Sample Introduction

During sophomore year of college, I got involved in the management of my family’s trust. I was spearheading an effort to allocate funding across NGOs in my home state of [State]. Five of us traveled across the state to assess our funding’s impact. 
We had just arrived in a tiny village, where we learned that a farmer had recently committed suicide. He was a father, husband, brother, and son, unable to carry on after defaulting on his debt due to failed rains. The farmer’s family mourned his loss while at the same time, fearing boycott from the village.
This incident affected me deeply. Across the next few months, I read extensively about government sponsored financial inclusion programs for people like that farmer. I learned that although several programs existed, poor implementation and lack of infrastructure rendered them highly ineffective. 
The more I learned, the more passionate I felt about playing a role in enabling greater financial inclusion for the millions of [Nationality] who live below the poverty line.

Sample Body Paragraphs

I was nearing graduation, and it was time to decide between two career paths – joining a rapidly growing family business, or committing to my passion of creating and implementing fin tech solutions to promote financial inclusion. I chose the later and eight gruelling months later, landed a job at [Name] Consulting. 
This commitment turned into an extremely meaningful experience. I convinced my manager to fill out an application when I came across a tender from the [Corporation] focused on large scale micro finance restructuring in [Country]. We won the project against all odds and I was assigned the role of project leader.
My team and I started off by visiting over 50 micro finance institutions to learn more about existing processes and pain points. I was able to quickly pinpoint several areas where their approach created too much operational complexity. We needed to think of a solution from the ground up and ended up designing a digitization model that focused on simplifying processes. 
After a successful pilot across five states, [Corporation] decided to roll it out to 20 million individuals. This turned into one of the most successful micro finance program implementations in [Country’s] history and our best practices were codified in the [Bank of Country] ’s standard operating procedures.
I realized that greater global exposure and networks will be instrumental in helping me take my management skills to the next level. Most importantly, this helped reaffirm that promoting financial inclusion is a cause I am committed to for the rest of my life, and one that energizes me when I wake up every morning.

Sample Conclusion

With its core curriculum focusing on ‘Globe & Society’, Yale SOM will be the perfect next step in helping me fulfillment my commitment. I am excited to organize events for the International Center for Finance and collaborate with Professor [Name] on his micro finance research. 
Nothing excites me more than the prospect of learning from and giving back to the Yale community, which consists of accomplished and inspiring individuals from around the world. Standing at this critical juncture in my career, I am excited to collaborate with them, realize my true potential, and play my role in promoting the growth of microfinance in [Country]. For that, I see no better platform than a Yale MBA.

Why it Works

This is a very strong example of the kind of essay that the Yale SOM admissions committee would be interested in reading. The applicant wastes no time and immediately begins with a story that highlights their role as a leader. The commitment they’ve chosen to speak about is clear, and it is well-chosen since it is connected to a larger cause.

As the story goes on, their leadership potential is amplified further and further because they are shown to recognize problems and take the initiative to solve them in incredibly innovative ways. They spend an appropriate amount of time elaborating on the inspiration behind their commitment before moving on to show how they were hugely successful with their results.

They also go on to discuss how and why Yale SOM is the most logical next step for them, and they prove that they have done their research and are interested and excited about the prospect of joining a future cohort at Yale.

Essay Example #2

Sample Introduction

Growing up in a small mountain town, I was surrounded by stunning scenery, but behind the beauty, I couldn't ignore the stark inequalities affecting people's lives. Seeing neighbors struggle with access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities lit a fire in me. I felt compelled to do something about it.
So, I threw myself into projects and activities aimed at making a difference. Whether it was organizing community events or volunteering at local shelters, I was driven by a passion for social justice. These experiences opened my eyes to the power of education and community support in breaking down barriers.
Now, as I embark on the journey towards a Yale MBA, I carry with me this unwavering belief that business can be a force for good. I'm eager to learn how to leverage my skills and knowledge to create lasting, positive change in the world.

Sample Body Paragraphs

After earning a Sociology degree, I had to choose between a lucrative corporate career or using my skills to make a real difference. I opted for the latter, joining a nonprofit focused on improving healthcare access. As a project coordinator, I worked with locals to launch community health programs, empowering people to manage their health better.
Juggling limited resources and cultural differences taught me the value of flexible leadership and creative problem-solving. Through teamwork and local partnerships, our efforts led to tangible improvements like higher vaccination rates and better maternal health outcomes. These experiences strengthened my belief in collective action and motivated me to seek further education to expand my impact.

Sample Conclusion

As I look ahead in my career, I'm drawn to Yale SOM's holistic approach to leadership and social change. Their emphasis on teamwork and ethical leadership align perfectly with my values. I'm excited to bring my perspective to the Yale community and learn from others. Together, we can use business as a force for positive change.

Why it Works

This essay connects with readers by authentically portraying the applicant's journey toward social justice. Through storytelling, they show their commitment and suitability for a Yale MBA, emphasizing their leadership and innovation. This makes a strong case for their ability to contribute meaningfully to Yale SOM's community and drive positive societal change.

Essay Example #3

Sample Introduction

My journey towards social impact began during my undergraduate years, where I found myself increasingly drawn to issues of inequality and injustice. As I delved deeper into my studies in Political Science, I became acutely aware of the systemic barriers that marginalized communities face in accessing resources and opportunities. This realization sparked a desire within me to be part of the solution, to use my skills and knowledge to effect positive change in the world.

Sample Body Paragraphs

Upon completing my degree, I faced a pivotal moment of choice. While many of my peers pursued traditional career paths, I knew that my calling lay in the realm of social entrepreneurship. I joined a grassroots organization dedicated to empowering low-income families through education and economic development initiatives.
As a program coordinator, I had the privilege of working directly with communities to identify their needs and develop tailored solutions. From launching vocational training programs to advocating for policy changes, every project was aimed at building sustainable pathways out of poverty. Despite the challenges of limited resources and bureaucratic hurdles, our efforts yielded tangible results, with countless individuals gaining new skills and opportunities for self-sufficiency.

Sample Conclusion

As I reflect on my journey thus far, I am convinced that pursuing an MBA at Yale SOM is the next logical step in my quest to drive meaningful change. Yale's commitment to social responsibility and innovation align perfectly with my values and aspirations. I am eager to contribute my unique perspective to the Yale community and collaborate with like-minded individuals to create lasting impact.

Why it Works

This essay effectively captures the applicant's passion for social entrepreneurship and their commitment to making a difference in the world. By showcasing their hands-on experience and aligning their goals with Yale SOM's values, the applicant presents a compelling case for their fit for a Yale MBA. The essay's straightforward narrative and clear articulation of motivations make it engaging and impactful for readers, making it a strong example of an effective MBA essay.

Top Tips for Crafting the Yale MBA Essay

Stay True to Yourself

You have the freedom to choose the topic you’d like to focus on for your essay primarily. However, the admissions committee is seeking genuine responses to their prompt, so you must keep this in mind when deciding how to approach your writing. Yale SOM’s admissions committee “want[s] to hear about something that is meaningful and distinctive to you, in your own voice.” 

It is a natural inclination to want to choose a theme or an approach that you believe has never been taken before in an attempt to make yourself stand out. Standing out is necessary, given the size of Yale SOM’s applicant pool. However, picking a topic that is too abstract or difficult to solidify will hurt your chances of acceptance rather than helping them.

Your priority should be writing an essay that leaves no room for doubts about your candidacy for the program because it is genuine, well-executed, and relevant.

Show Don’t Tell

When addressing prompts that ask about significant commitments, meaningful communities, or significant challenges, it's crucial to bring your experiences to life through vivid descriptions and specific examples. Instead of simply stating facts or sentiments, delve into the details of your journey, painting a rich picture for the reader. 

For instance, when describing your biggest commitment, don't just say it's meaningful; show it through the actions you've taken to support it and the impact it has had on your life. Similarly, when discussing a meaningful community, illustrate its importance by sharing specific anecdotes or moments that highlight the connections and experiences you've shared within it. 

When tackling a significant challenge, provide concrete examples of the obstacles you faced and the strategies you employed to overcome them. By immersing the reader in your narrative and allowing them to experience your journey through your eyes, you make your essay more compelling and memorable, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Choose Your Theme Wisely & Connect With the School

If you choose to speak about a single story or experience, make sure that it has the span to encompass broader themes. The themes should relate to your ideas or values to provide the admissions committee with a clearer insight into who you are and what you bring to the table.

The Yale MBA essay is a way for the admissions committee to gauge your values and motivations. But, if you can align some of your values and motivations with those held by the school, it will frame you as the ideal candidate. Since the admissions committee is more focused on the sorts of behaviors that presuppose the commitment you’ve chosen to speak about, it will be well worth your time to do some background research into the kinds of behavior that are valued at Yale SOM.

Once you know more about the school’s values, goals, and missions, it will be much easier to figure out what Yale SOM is looking for when piecing together its next cohort.

For example, the Yale SOM website states that they “seek students who care deeply about the problems afflicting our world.” 

It also mentions that its goal is to help its students eventually “pursue positive and ambitious change—whether that takes the form of launching a business that can refashion its market, advancing far-reaching and rigorously considered policy initiatives, or steering a multinational corporation with a keen awareness of and respect for its impact on workers, communities, and the environment.”

If you have any personal experiences closely related to these objectives, you could make them a focal point of your essay. Even if you have never personally launched a business or advanced policy initiatives, you can still hit upon the overarching theme of leadership by detailing a story that highlights some specific initiatives you’ve taken to lead, either at work or in your personal life.

Prove that You’re a Leader

Leadership can have many different facets and be tied to many different values, so there is no black-and-white or right-and wrong-way to demonstrate that you have the traits of a good leader. 

Sometimes, leadership and innovation go hand in hand. If you can think of a time when you came up with a creative solution to a problem that your company was facing, came up with a new product, or developed a new idea for a business, it will illustrate your connection to these sought-after attributes.

Leadership is also often closely connected to helping others. If you decide to take this approach, you have an even wider array of potential stories that you can reference since you can apply this theme to both personal and professional situations. You can reference a time when you had to step up to financially or emotionally support a family member or friend.

Alternatively, you can discuss how you’ve helped or guided a colleague through a task they were struggling to manage on their own. In either case, you will come across as having recognized a problem and taken the initiative to do something about it.

Leadership can also be demonstrated through teamwork and can be illustrated even in stories focused on group achievement. In fact, scenarios involving group, community, or team initiatives often present the best opportunities for displaying your role as a leader. 

Leaders are necessary to proactively solve problems and raise new ideas so that collective success is possible. If you’ve taken on this kind of role in the past, it could be another potential reference point in your essay.

The specifics of your anecdotal story aren’t important as long as you show the Yale SOM admissions committee that you have a proven track record of leadership. By doing so, it leaves the impression that you will actively pursue similar roles in the future, which is what they want to see.

How Does Yale SOM Fit Into the Picture

Although the main focus of your essay should be on something you have done, which proves your commitment, the school is also interested in your future goals. 

They are eager to know what direction you plan to take regarding your commitment, whether this involves branching off or keeping right on track with wherever your story has left off.

It is also vitally important to show the Yale SOM admissions committee why you have specifically chosen their school to help advance you even further towards your goals. They want to know why an MBA at Yale SOM is an essential component of your future plans and why you feel that it is the best fit for getting you where you want to go.

This is another reason why it is necessary to conduct ample background research into the school. If you can reference specific courses that you’re interested in, faculty that you look forward to working with, or international exchange opportunities that will allow for you to commit to your goals even further, it will let the admissions committee know that you also have a commitment to their school.

What to Avoid

Take your time when deciding what to evaluate as your biggest commitment. You may feel like discussing your commitment to someone like your spouse or your parent. However, while this may highlight certain values, it will limit your ability to flesh out your leadership capabilities, which is what Yale SOM is primarily interested in. 

On the other hand, if you choose to discuss a cause that you believe in or have actively supported, you will have more potential to show how you have made a larger impact.

Since the essay has a 500-word limit, don’t waste any time restating things that can be found in other parts of your application. If you have worked for an impressive company, or you have scored high on the GMAT or GRE, it will undoubtedly help your chances of getting accepted into the program, but that does not mean that you must remind the admissions committee of these accomplishments in your essay.

They can find this kind of information when they look through your resume or transcripts.


1. Is the essay question the same for Yale SOM’s full-time MBA and executive MBA programs?

No. The Executive MBA program at Yale SOM has different application requirements than the full-time MBA program. Applicants to the executive MBA program must complete three essays that each have a 250-350 word count. There is also an optional essay that is 200 words. These essays have prompts that are different from the full-time MBA program. 

2. What are the other requirements for applying to an MBA at Yale SOM?

All applicants must have earned a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or an international equivalent. Applicants must also submit transcripts from every college or university they’ve attended, two professional recommendations, completed responses to the behavioral assessment video questions, and official GMAT or GRE scores with their online application.

3. Is an interview required for admission to Yale SOM’s MBA programs?

Yes. Interviews are a necessary part of the admission process to Yale SOM. However, interviews are conducted on an invitation-only basis. If you receive an invitation, it will be an offer to come to the Yale SOM campus for a 30-minute interview conducted by a second-year student. If visiting the campus is not possible for you, virtual interviews or interviews with members of the admissions team in major international cities can be arranged.

4. In which round should I apply?

You should apply when you feel you can submit your best application. There is no difference in your chances of being admitted in round 1 versus round 2. However, there are typically fewer spaces available for round 3 applicants than there are in the first two rounds, which may affect your chances of being admitted.

5. Are there additional application requirements for international students?

Unlike most business schools, Yale SOM does not require international applicants to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic English proficiency exam scores with their application. However, non-English transcripts should be translated into English and provided along with a copy of your transcript in its original language.

6. How can I experience life at Yale SOM firsthand before applying to the MBA program?

Visiting campus is the best way to get a real sense of what student life is like at Yale SOM. Yale SOM has a visitation program that usually begins in mid-September and runs Monday through Thursday during the academic year. You can learn more about what this visit entails and plan your visit on the Yale SOM website.


Yale SOM fosters the kind of community that is “committed to understanding how to address the most meaningful challenges facing our society.” They do this by providing opportunities for their students to “[connect] with like-minded, motivated colleagues, [explore] the latest ideas from academic scholarship, and [engage] with problems both on [their] doorstep and on far continents.” The MBA programs offered at this school are “focused on issues that lie at the intersection of business and society.”

If this is the kind of school that sounds like it would be a good fit for you, then you should apply to Yale SOM in a future application cycle. If you do, you will have to take on the Yale MBA essay. Use this as a chance to make yourself stand out and write about a commitment you have made that shares your unique and complex identity with the admissions committee.

Show them detailed examples of how you have made strides towards your chosen commitment, and make sure that you spend enough time expanding upon your motivations as well as your results.

It's essential that you use your Yale MBA essay to show the admissions committee that you possess the traits they are seeking. Knowing that Yale values leadership above all else, you must prove to them that you are a true leader. If you do, they will have a hard time turning your application down, and you will have a higher chance of being admitted to a future Yale SOM cohort.

About Inspira Futures

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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