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MBA Admission Essays: Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

Posted by Chioma Isiadinso

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business requires three short answers and two rather lengthy MBA admission essays, which gives MBA applicants room to provide plenty of detail and fully develop their MBA application strategy.

Check out these tips for answering each portion of Fuqua’s MBA admissions essays.

Short Answers (250 characters each- about 50 words) 

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize, what alternative directions have you considered?

You don’t have a lot of space to answer these questions, so be as precise as you can. (Think about tweeting your business goals). Your short-term goals should be specific and achievable. State the goal in the first sentence, and then state what you hope to learn and how you are already qualified. Your long-term goals can be a bit broader, but should still be concrete and well thought out. Again, you need to get to the point immediately and show how your interests and background will help you achieve these goals.

The third question demands flexibility. Keep the focus on your short-term goals, and list one or two viable alternatives that will still contribute to your long-term goals. Again, you must be specific. This is not the place for vague, sweeping career plans.
MBA Admission Essays
Essays- do not exceed 2 pages for each

Essay 1. The “Team Fuqua’ spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself”. As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents and more.

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In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you- beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

This is a tough question that requires a lot of thought and planning. You need to balance the light tone of the question with more serious revelations about your goals and life experiences. Applicants with a thorough knowledge of their personal brand will have a distinct advantage here, as they can quickly dismiss “random things” that do not fit with their brand.

As you think of your 25 facts, I would suggest listing five facts in five different categories.

  1. Family/personal background, i.e. “I grew up in a military family and lived in six different countries before the age of 16. Cultural adaptability was a necessity, and an integral part of my childhood.” Go beyond where you are from and where you went to school- they can see all that on your resume.
  2. Life experiences, i.e., “I understood the principle of competitive advantage at around age six, when I realized that lemonade stands selling cupcakes and lemonade were far more lucrative than simple lemonade stands.”
  3. Hobbies and community activities, e., “I am a licensed scuba diver and hope to dive in all of the world’s major oceans.”
  4. Personal achievements, i.e. “I was the youngest employee to be named an associate within my company, achieving the distinction within only a year.”
  5. Light-hearted fun facts, i.e., “Juggling is my go-to party trick, and I actually own a juggling set.” Don’t be afraid to embrace the light-hearted nature of the question with a few random, fun facts about yourself.
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Fuqua Business School
Essay 2 (Choose 1 of 2)- 2 pages

Option 1: When asked by your family, friends and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

This essay should show your thorough knowledge of Duke’s program and the resources that the school has to offer. You should include several tangible examples of assets and coursework that you hope to take advantage of. However, the question is looking for more than just a list of resources. The MBA admissions board wants to know “the reasons that are most meaningful to you,” so don’t be afraid to delve into the intangibles. Duke places a lot of value on community and teamwork (see the second option below). Emphasize how these traits and others have been important in your life, and how you see them reflected at Duke. You have plenty of room, so make sure that you take advantage of that. Offer up several traits that have drawn you to Duke, and share examples from your own life.

Option 2: The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality is a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your two years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the six principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.

  1. Authentic Engagement:We care and we take action. We each make a difference to Team Fuqua by being ourselves and engaging in and supporting activities about which we are passionate.
  2. Supportive Ambition:We support each other to achieve great things, because your success is my success. The success of each individual member of Team Fuqua makes the whole of Team Fuqua better.
  3. Collective Diversity: We embrace all of our classmates because our individuality is better and stronger together.
  4. Impactful Stewardship:We are leaders who focus on solutions to improve our communities both now and in the future. We aren’t satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
  5. Loyal Community:We are a family who looks out for each other. Team Fuqua supports you when you need it the most.
  6. Uncompromising Integrity:We internalize and live the honor code in the classroom and beyond. We conduct ourselves with integrity within Fuqua, within Duke, and within all communities of which we are a part.
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For this question, you will need very strong, memorable examples of when you have displayed a particular trait. Choose your principle based on the quality of the examples that you can provide. Don’t worry too much about which principle most respondents will choose, or which one will make you “stand out”. If you have good examples, your essay will be able to stand on its own.

Make sure that you tie each example from your life to a future-focused idea of how you will engage with the Fuqua community. How will you live out the principle on campus? How have you seen Duke facilitate that principle?

For more information, visit Duke Fuqua’s website.

Deadlines: Early Action- September 17; Round 1- October 20; Round 2- January 5; Round 3- March 19

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