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Georgetown McDonough MBA Essay Analysis 2023-2024

georgetown mba essay analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (McDonough) MBA admissions essays for the 2023-2024 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Georgetown / McDonough Essay Topic Analysis 2023-2024

Before we take a closer look at each prompt, here is the preamble the adcom shares ahead of the required essay options.

Essay Preamble

Our goal at Georgetown McDonough is to craft a diverse class with people who have had varying personal and professional life experiences. As such, we want to give our applicants the opportunity to select one essay (from a list of three) that allows them the ability to best highlight their experiences, characteristics, and values that showcase the value proposition that they can bring to the McDonough community. Please select one of the following three essays to complete in 500 words (approximately two pages, double spaced) and include the essay prompt and your first/last name at the top of your submission.

Essay Option One

Georgetown Community: Our mission is rooted in Jesuit principles of equality and respect for everyone and an ethos of caring for the whole person. Inclusivity and diversity are core to supporting a community of people with an intersectional understanding of themselves and the world around them. Share how your educational, familial, cultural, economic, social, and/or other individual life experiences will contribute to the diversity of perspectives and ideas at Georgetown University. (500 words)
This is a chance to tell the adcom who you are, where you come from, and what you care about. It is also a good place to highlight instances of resourcefulness and persistence, especially discussing how far you’ve come, if you were a boostrapper or first generation in your family to attend college. You can provide insight into your personal and professional maturity and collaborative nature over the course of a narrative. An effective approach might be to describe the initial experience and its broad implications in a few sentences, followed by a brief illustrative example before concluding with a reflection on how the experience has shaped who you are today.

The adcom also wants to know that you’ll be supportive and collaborative while on campus at McDonough and be a good addition to the student community. Applicants should aim to connect their history with potential future contributions to McDonough. Whether you choose to draw on your professional, personal or academic life, it’s important to create context before connecting to how you would contribute. As you approach the contributions, specifically, think about how you can translate your experience and related lessons into involvement on the Georgetown campus. Creating a link between your past and your potential future at the program will enable you to present a consistent and clear picture of your candidacy, as well as your professional and personal interests. The more information you can provide about how exactly you would contribute (playing a certain role in organizing a particular annual event, for example), the more reason you’ll give the adcom to admit you.

Essay Option Two

Leave Your Legacy: Commitment to service and community is an important value that Hoyas share across Georgetown McDonough’s 40+ MBA student-run clubs and organizations, nine centers and initiatives, and various other co-curricular activities. What do you want your legacy to be as a McDonough student and alumni? Be as specific as possible. (500 words)
The adcom is inviting applicants to paint a picture of the kind of MBA student they will be. This begins with extensive research into McDonough’s mentioned offerings and then forging direct and specific connections to how you engage in the given features. It will not be enough to list the clubs or centers you want to engage, but rather to curate your list and develop rich details. For instance, if your goals are in healthcare, how does a given center support your plans? What will you do in a healthcare-focused club to ensure that you and your peers are on top of industry trends? There is also a chance here to highlight your past or current involvement—in fact, this would show your existing commitment to a given activity or cause. For instance, if you are currently mentoring through the Boys and Girls Club, how would you bring that mentoring experience to McDonough?

With the reference to being an alum, applicants should also consider the contributions they would anticipate making after graduation. Show the adcom how you will be an ambassador for McDonough. You may look up alumni events near you to see how you could get involved. The legacy/societal impact you can make through your long-term goals may also be relevant here.

There are a few angles you can take to begin reflecting on your legacy. You may first consider your goals and the leader you want to become, working backwards from there to how McDonough would support these plans (balanced with how you would contribute in turn). You could also reflect on what you are passionate about and how that is apparent in your past involvement, then forging connections between an existing activity and future one at McDonough. Essentially, think about what you need from the MBA program and, more importantly, what you can contribute. Find the activities and initiatives, etc., that allow you to learn and give at the same time. As with the prior essay option, the more information you can provide about how exactly you would contribute, the more reason you’ll give the adcom to admit you.

Essay Option Three

Magis: Magis is a Jesuit value that instills the sense of achieving “more” or “greater” excellence. Share how you achieved magis during a professional experience as evidenced on your resume. Describe why this experience exemplified excellence and what about your involvement (i.e. strengths or skills) contributed to the excellence. (500 words)
Georgetown / McDonough considers their program to be preparation for the global stage, and applicants would be wise to consider the response to this prompt as a reflection of how your strengths and potential would translate to the rigorous MBA program in D.C. The adcom will want to see not only how you overcame leadership challenges, but delivered excellence in spite of them and, ultimately, developed personally and professionally.

The primary task of this essay is to expand on a professional leadership experience identified in your resume that involved exceeding expectations. Once you have identified your example, we recommend a simple STAR structure for this response. Begin by describing the situation, the players, and stakeholders involved before moving into the task: what you needed to accomplish in your leadership role (as well as any challenges or barriers that you anticipated). You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. Finally, you should comment on the result — the positive outcome of your leadership efforts and the resolution of the story. In a concluding section, applicants will then want to note the characteristics they drew on to help achieve a greater result.  Finally, explain how these qualities position the applicant to add real value to the Georgetown MBA community.

Video Essay

Building a cohort of diverse and unique individuals is important to the admissions team. We want you to bring your whole self to Georgetown McDonough. Throughout the application, we’ve learned about what you would add as a professional and leader. Just as important is learning about your interests outside of work. In one minute, please share 5-10 random facts about yourself that are not on your resume and how these facts contribute to who you are as a professional and leader.

  • You may use your phone, computer, or other means to record the video, but please ensure all audio and visual components are clear. We recommend a well-lit room and minimal noise distraction.
  • The admissions committee would like for you to appear in person during part of your video.
  • We recommend unscripted, conversational videos – help us get to know the real you!
  • Upload your video to an accessible website (such as YouTube, Vimeo, Youku, or Tudou), and submit the direct video URL into your online application.
  • Please note that all videos must remain active and accessible to the admissions committee online for a minimum of five years for record retention purposes.
  • For your privacy: Do not include your name in the title of your video. You may submit “unlisted” videos via YouTube or password protected videos through Vimeo. If using a password, please include immediately after your link in the text box below. [Ex:, password: Hoyas]

Before pressing the “record” button, it would be worth reviewing our advice on video essays to understand the broader goals of a video prompt. Do not hesitate to practice your response to ensure that it will be within the time limit. You should also record your response on your own and watch it so you can improve before the final recording. The key caveat here is to not allow the practicing to lead to a robotic/overly rehearsed final video.

As this is a visual presentation, ensure you are dressed in appropriate professional attire and that the scene is well lit and you can be heard clearly. In terms of a background, clean and steady may work best—you do not want to make the adcom dizzy by taking them on an unsteady walking tour with your laptop or phone. While many applicants will be tempted to introduce props into their video, such as signs, souvenirs, or any prized possessions that might quickly convey who you are, we would like to urge some degree of caution in this domain. A focused, one-minute, heartfelt explanation (while looking your audience in the eye) may be far more effective than a distracting string of props, signs, charts—each requiring valuable time to make transitions—not to mention careful attention to readability/visibility on screen. This isn’t to say that displaying a prized souvenir from traveling along the Silk Road in Asia can’t work, it’s just that we want you to think carefully about how to best convey your message on video.

Getting to the specifics of McDonough’s request, this open-ended prompt allows applicants to showcase interesting and meaningful facts about themselves that they otherwise might not get a chance to share with the adcom. It also amounts to a test of the applicant’s creativity and judgment in arriving at a well-rounded set of admissions-appropriate tidbits that inform your leadership and professional business life.

Here are some things to think about when developing your response to this prompt:

  • Keep it positive! Share happy memories, interesting talents, or (very short) references to accomplishment. Steer clear of failure or disappointment (unless you can be light-hearted or self-effacing about it).
  • Aim to cover all domains of your life, including your interests outside of work and even important personal details and relationships. Highlighting the reason you admired your grandmother growing up or what you learned during a long-distance phase in your relationship will help the adcom get to know you on a level beyond your resume.
  • Short items are okay!
  • In fact, the most effective responses to this question will intersperse very brief items (of just a few words) with longer ones that might include several sentences, creating an almost poetic effect.
  • First-date and job-interview rules apply here — think twice before discussing religion or politics. If these areas are important enough to you to warrant mentioning, limit your comments to personal meaning and community aspects (i.e. don’t try to educate or persuade the viewer).
  • We recommend a mix of items beyond work. As the preamble hints, the adcom can read about your professional background elsewhere in your application.
  • Aim for balance in content throughout your list; rather than listing items chronologically or by domain (i.e. professional, personal, extracurricular), change things up throughout and keep your reader on her toes to make this truly “random.”
  • Show your draft to a close friend or relative to get feedback on how well you’re capturing your personality (and on whether you’re overlooking anything) before speaking to the camera.

Optional Essay

Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (300-350 words, approximately one page, double spaced)
This will be an appropriate place for applicants to address potential concerns with or liabilities in their candidacies, to explain unusual recommenders or gaps in employment, or to comment on extenuating circumstances that affected past performance. Given the word limit, it is best to keep this essay short and to the point, if addressed at all.

Re-Applicant Essay (Required for Re-Applicants)

How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (300-350 words, approximately one page, double spaced)
It would help to review your last application to reflect on any potential weaknesses—did you have enough leadership experience? Were your goals clearly defined? Did you improve your GMAT score or take quantitative courses to balance your weak undergraduate record? This prompt is focused on proactive improvement in one’s candidacy since the time one last applied. This response should therefore be fairly action-oriented, with a focus on describing the steps that one has taken to become a stronger applicant to McDonough since being denied, as well as the results of these efforts in terms of new knowledge and strengthened skills. The request for professional growth should involve accounting for an increase in one’s responsibilities at work—perhaps more direct management experience—or a concluding project that has met with success since your last application. On the personal side, this could entail extended community involvement. There should also be room to account for how one has refined career goals and an interest in McDonough’s program itself. It’s also important not to repeat material verbatim from your prior application; the adcom wants to see that you have approached the application process freshly and with new information.

Clear Admit Resources

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