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NYU Stern School of Business Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

NYU Stern MBA essays

The following essay topic analysis examines NYU Stern’s MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other the leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

NYU Stern Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations

  • What are your short and long-term career goals?
  • How will the MBA help you achieve them? (500 words maximum)

This is a fairly straightforward career goals essay, asking applicants to explain their post-MBA career objectives and how an MBA would support these plans.

First, applicants should explain the specifics of their post-MBA plans.  Establishing your long-term vision first would lend meaning to your short-term plans, as it can help the reader to know your destination before the path.  So, explain your broader 5-10 year plan, even going beyond the “what” and the “where” to the “why”—in other words, the impact you hope to make on an organization, sector, consumer base, or region. Then, applicants should outline their short-term plans very specifically, including both the position the candidate hopes to hold immediately after an MBA, along with 1-2 companies one plans to target. This short-term goal should lead naturally to the long term.

In regards to how the MBA would help you achieve your goals, it would make sense to briefly comment on your work experience to date to establish the skills you already possess; this sets up the gap in your skill set that a Stern MBA would fill.  This phase of your discussion should establish the skills and knowledge you hope to gain from a Stern MBA while integrating details about the program. Forging specific connections between the skills you hope to gain (whether in class or outside of it) and your future plans will show the adcom that you have a sound understanding of how a Stern MBA will prepare you for success.

Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.
  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.
This is a chance to literally show the adcom who you are, where you come from, and what you care about. While Stern has seemingly narrowed the range of options for candidates’ creative expression, Assistant Dean Gallogly assured applicants that they still have a wide range, as he explained, “It can be six words in a box, word clouds, emojis, pictures of a painting—there are so many options. The visuals should carry the lion’s share of communicating, with short captions that help support it.”

Candidates should consider what they would truly want their classmates to know about them, while also being mindful of the balance of content between the required essays. That is, because the first response asks about candidates’ career goals, and would necessarily include some commentary on work experience, it would make sense to focus the majority of one’s comments in this response on one’s life outside the workplace. Applicants will want to think reflectively about their values and personality, as well as strategically about what makes them unique with respect to other applicants. Naturally, you’ll also want to communicate your enthusiasm about meeting and working with your fellow students and comment on any ways you would engage with them that aren’t covered in your first essay.  The goal will be to convey information about your interests, values, and personality in the context of this creative exercise.

This prompt invites interspersing text with photos and graphics. A captioned photo album of particularly proud moments or a decision-making flow chart visualizing how you decide to spend your free time could show your creativity and willingness to put special effort into your Stern application. Finally, no matter the balance of images and text, applicants should pay attention to tone and ensure that they’re coming across as sincere, collaborative, and excited about the prospect of joining the NYU community.

Optional Essay

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information. (250 words)
Given the scope of the required essays and the explicit guidelines provided for this essay, applicants would do best to address only the topics outlined by the admissions committee for this prompt.

Clear Admit Resources

Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s NYU MBA essay topics! As you work on your Stern MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Stern offerings:

Need help with your essay?

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Posted in: Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays, Feature Small

Schools: NYU Stern

About the Author

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal is the Editor-in-Chief of Clear Admit, responsible for overseeing content creation for the site. Lauren has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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