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Carnegie Mellon / Tepper Essay Topic Analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business (Tepper) MBA admissions essays for the 2020-2021 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Carnegie Mellon University Tepper Essay Topic Analysis 2020-2021

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Required Essay

At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, we value our community and it is important for each person to contribute to its success. What difference will you make as a member of the MBA class at the Tepper School? (Maximum 350-500 words.)

This question is a classic in terms of MBA essays; adcoms are interested in people who make an impact, whether at work, or in other avenues of their lives. They want to know you’ll make an impact while on campus at Tepper and be a good addition to the student community. Applicants should aim to balance reflections on their past and connect their history with potential future contributions to Tepper.  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 to Tepper. As you approach the contributions, specifically, think about how you can translate your experience and related lessons into involvement on the CMU 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.

Optional Essay

  • Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have been otherwise able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.
  • If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

While there is no set word limit for this essay, it would be wise to keep this under 350 words, given the length of the required essay. Optional materials also create more work for the reader, so it’s important to keep that in consideration while being concise in one’s explanations.

For first-time applicants, this optional essay should be reserved for addressing potential liabilities in one’s application. Such discussions should be direct and to the point, providing an explanation and pointing to mitigating factors without being defensive or making excuses. This essay is optional, so should not be used if there are no issues to explain.

Meanwhile, reapplicants should detail the steps they have taken to become a stronger applicant and learn more about the Tepper MBA program since their last application. Candidates in this situation should comment on how they have spent the past year, taking particular care to highlight improved quantitative records, new professional skills and responsibilities, progress toward their ultimate career goals, and/or increased community involvement.

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