Yale MBA Essays & Analysis 2023-2024
The following essay topic analysis examines Yale School of Management (Yale SOM) MBA admissions essays. The Yale MBA essay is 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.
Yale MBA Essay & Analysis 2023-2024
Let’s take a closer look at the 2023-2024 Yale SOM essay questions.
Briefly describe your career interests and how you arrived at them. What have you already done to pursue these interests? What do you need to do going forward? (150 words maximum)
With only 150 words, you’ll have a sentence or two to address each element of this short answer in the Yale MBA application. Therefore, you need to be concise and direct. Identify your short-term and long-term plans including position and industry. How you arrived at these goals may be due to your past experience, personal interest, or desired impact. Then, regarding what you have already done, Yale notes that “this could include speaking with people who work in your desired field, developing transferrable skills through your current work, or gaining direct exposure to your area of interest.” Ideally, your answer regarding what you need going forward would be “an MBA,” but you should expand on what precisely you need from the program. This could relate to specific skills, curriculum, community, etc.
For a preview of what 150 words looks like, this question analysis is 150 words long (including this sentence).
Main Essay Options
For the main essays this year, applicants are requested to answer one of three essay options in under 500 words.
We want to know what matters to you. The questions below are designed to help us gain insight into your background, passions, motivations, responsibilities, ideals, identities, challenges, or aspirations, depending on where you take your response.
Choose One Required Essay
Please respond to one (1) of the three essay prompts below. The word limit (though not necessarily the goal!) is 500 words.
Essay Option 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? (500 words)
With such a broad, open-ended mandate, it’s important to impose a structure on the response to this Yale MBA essay. Consider the main categories of what one can be committed to:
- An idea
- An organization
- A person
The benefit of being committed to an idea is that it likely allows for the broadest approach to responding to the prompt, as an idea could be supported in one’s professional and personal lives. For instance, perhaps you have been most committed to raising awareness of social injustice and have sought to introduce this in your office and community. Or perhaps you are committed to lessening the environmental impact that humans have on our planet and you have pursued that commitment via volunteer work, initiatives at work, and changes in your personal life. In short, it’s easy to see how commitment to an idea offers a broad array of possibilities to showcase various aspects of your candidacy.
One important note regarding commitment to an idea is that some individuals may gravitate towards religion or politics. While these are clearly fair game in light of the question Yale SOM has posed, it’s important to remember that these can be sensitive topics (and that we typically advise candidates to tread carefully when broaching them). In short, if religion or politics has been your priority, the key will be to focus on your actions and positive results as opposed to ideology.
Before we look closely at a response to this Yale MBA essay around an organization, we want to remind our readers that organizations can be of a professional or community nature. In addition, because the question originates from a professor of organizational behavior, it likely makes sense to reflect on one’s efforts within a group or in conjunction with groups. This would also afford the opportunity to showcase one’s leadership and teamwork skills—both desirable skills at MBA programs. Candidates do not need to feel confined to the professional realm; Yale SOM, after all, does seek to “educate leaders for business and society.” Perhaps you organized a community fundraiser or launched a community event—the key is to show how you engaged a group and led them to a positive result.
With regards to a person, it’s understandable that one’s go-to response to this Yale MBA essay would be a spouse or child; however, we would like to remind readers that taking this course may present some challenges. First off, there are likely to be many other applicants following the same path with their essays, and that could make it harder for you to stand out in a crowded applicant pool. Second, it may be a bit harder to speak to elements of your commitment to a significant other or child in a way that relates to your potential skills as a future business leader and ability to contribute to life at Yale SOM. Of course, if you truly feel that the biggest commitment you have ever made has indeed been to a loved one, and that you can write about this in a compelling fashion, then by all means give it a shot. With all that said, we would like to remind you that “a person” doesn’t have to be a loved one. For instance, perhaps you have maintained a strong mentoring relationship either at work or in your community; detailing the interpersonal challenges of your relationship and ultimate success in achieving goals together could fit well here. Once again, honesty is the best policy here, as the most compelling descriptions of commitment will stem from something or someone you are passionate about.
Things to Avoid
While we’ve covered what potential topics could be discussed in this Yale MBA essay, there are likely a couple of choices to avoid. Namely, though it may be tempting, this essay should be limited to one commitment. You may have multiple examples in support of an idea, but the theme should be singular. Additionally, ‘applying to business school’ or ‘pursuing an MBA’ as an answer should probably be avoided. It is certainly a grueling process to apply to business school–and a big decision to commit to an MBA–but the adcom wants to get to know who you are, not just your passion for an MBA. Also, remember that everyone applying to Yale SOM is theoretically making a commitment to an MBA, which would make it harder for you to stand out.
Final Thoughts & Structure
Underlying each of the aforementioned categories, consider what it means to be committed: overcoming challenges consistently and staying the course. A commitment takes work, takes time and can take sacrifice or compromise. Consider what made achieving your goal difficult (in other words, what made you want to walk away or give up on your commitment), but, ultimately, what made you stick with it (some sign of progress, the impact of the ultimate goal). Finally, because this should be one’s “biggest” commitment, reflect on the scope and scale of the project. Your commitment should be worthy of the moniker, “biggest.”
As for structure, 500 words is not a lot of space, so it should be used wisely for this Yale MBA essay. Start with a concise and straightforward explanation of your commitment—ideally in a sentence or two. Then, move onto the meat of the content, which should include examples that showcase how you are committed to the idea, organization or person you have chosen. Space permitting, it would be nice to suggest how you would continue to pursue this commitment at Yale SOM and beyond. The essay can then be wrapped up with a brief reiteration of your biggest commitment and the satisfaction you get from it.
Essay Option 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? (500 words)
This question reflects Yale’s interest in identifying students who are in a position to contribute meaningfully to the school’s community. It’s also an opportunity to show who and what you care about by accounting for how you spend your free time.
Candidates will be well served by some deep reflection on this topic, with the ultimate goal of offering insight into how they have enacted—and will continue to enact—their values. You can provide insight into your maturity and collaborative nature over the course of a narrative. An effective approach might be to describe the community and its broad context in a few sentences, followed by a brief illustrative example of your contributions before concluding with a reflection on how the community has shaped who you are today.
The adcom wants to know how your background, perspective and experiences will make you an asset to the Yale community. Therefore, it would make sense to wrap this essay up with connections to Yale’s offerings. Consider specific classes, programs, potential collaborations with other parts of the school, clubs, conferences, or other offerings that your involvement would enhance. Learning about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities–whether through a visit to campus or conversations with alumni–will help you craft a response that really stands out.
Essay Option 3
Describe the most significant challenge you have faced.
How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person? (500 words)
Regarding the sorts of example that one might cover, the wording of this Yale MBA essay question is technically wide open to personal and professional experiences. Rather than gauging the significance of an experience solely in dollar amounts or percentages, we encourage applicants to attend to the follow up question about the actions taken and lessons learned. Whether the challenge was logistical (like stretching yourself to coordinate across internal teams while managing a client’s expectations) or interpersonal (such as developing a good working relationship with an adversarial colleague), effective responses will highlight a transferable skill that was formed or strengthened during this process.
With respect to structure, we recommend a basic STAR approach 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 goal. You should also lay the groundwork for the challenge(s) you encountered, identifying the factors or relationships you would need to navigate to be successful. You should then move into the action, providing a chronological account of how you moved through the project or process. It would likely make narrative sense to introduce the challenges and how you overcame them as part of this narrative rather than addressing this in a separate section.
Finally, you should comment on the result — the positive outcome of your efforts and the resolution of the story. The response should then conclude with a reflection on the lessons you learned, and perhaps a comment on how they have served you since and/or how they position you to add real value to the Yale MBA community.
Optional – Additional Information
If any aspect of your application requires additional explanation, you can address it in the Optional Information section below. Please note, you should use the specific prompts provided in the Work Experience section to address gaps in work experience or choice of recommender. The Optional Information section is truly optional – if no aspect of your application requires further explanation, you should leave this section blank. (200 words)
Applicants should exercise discretion when responding to this prompt, as providing an optional essay creates extra work for the admissions reader. This will be a good place to address extenuating circumstances that have influenced one’s academic or professional history or to address weaknesses in one’s application. The wording of this question is open enough that applicants may also choose to discuss an element of their background that is not reflected in their other materials (including data forms and résumé), though they will need to demonstrate sound judgment in doing so – i.e. the nature of the content should be such that it makes a material difference to one’s application – and should summarize the information as concisely as possible. Be sure to review the rest of the application for opportunities to share information before repeating content here.
Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Yale MBA essay topic. As you work on your SOM MBA essay and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Yale offerings: