The Wharton EMBA adcom shows a very clear focus in its set of essay questions. It wants to understand your goals and how executive business studies support them (essay 1), it wants to understand you as a person and as a professional (essay 2), and it wants to make sure that once you accept one of their precious slots, you’ll stay for the duration (essay 3). This trio of essays comprises a clear, well-rounded picture for the adcom with no meandering – it requires straightforward substance. Moreover, while the questions focus on professional topics, essay 2 provides an opportunity to discuss a non-work experience (in the first option about leadership) if you have something of particular relevance, import, or interest outside the professional realm that would enhance your application. My tips for answering Wharton’s EMBA essay questions are in blue below.
Wharton 2013 Executive MBA Application Essay Questions
What is your career objective and how will the Wharton MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of these objectives? (no word limit)
The lack of word limit contains a hidden warning: you have to impose your own discipline in selecting and presenting content. Failure to do so risks lack of focus and/or lack of proportion. I suggest keeping this essay to between 500 -750 words – long enough to thoroughly answer the question but short enough to employ focus, concision, and thoughtful selection of content. Also, resist the temptation to review your career progress, which is not asked for. Limit discussion of career progress to points relevant (directly or indirectly) to your goals.
You may want to start by discussing your current career situation to set the context, and clarify how the MBA education will enable you to achieve your immediate goals in your current role. You can then naturally move on to your future short- and long-term goals. In describing your goals at any given point, indicate why you are taking that step or pursuing that role. In discussing how the program will benefit you, be specific: describe what skills and knowledge you need, and how the program meets those needs. Also refer to the structure and special features of the program, detailing how they will support you and your goals.
Answer one of the following three questions (500 word limit):
- Describe the most significant way, either in or out of your job, that you have demonstrated leadership.
- In one of your Wharton MBA courses, you are given a case assignment to be completed in a study group comprised of six students. What is the most significant strength you would bring to the group process?
- As ‘The Ethicist’ in the New York Sunday Times Magazine often demonstrates, many ethical dilemmas are fairly complex with gray areas making the decision path a challenging one. Give an example of one such dilemma and how you handled it.
In selecting the question you will answer, keep in mind a few factors: it’s helpful to write about something that is fresh and not redundant of other parts of the application; something that helps the adcom know you as a person; and something that shows an aspect of you that is memorable, distinctive, and relevant. No one of these three essay options is inherently “better” than the others. The first and third questions are straightforward; if you choose one of them, after you narrate your story add a short paragraph or even just a sentence or two with a summarizing, reflective point. And with the middle question, avoid just “talking” in abstract descriptive terms about your “significant strength” – rather, ground the discussion in actual experiences and anecdotes.
Given your already demanding job and the desire to remain committed to important family and personal obligations, how do you plan to handle the additional demands on your time once you enroll? (500 word limit)
This straightforward question deserves a straightforward answer. Discuss the accommodations you will make at work, such as delegating more, adjusting travel schedules, etc. You don’t have to go overboard and tell them every single thing you can think of – focus on the most significant two or three things. Also address your personal responsibilities and how you will meet them with this additional significant demand on your time and energy; even acknowledging that you’ll have less time at the playground with your toddler or mentioning the support of your significant other will show that you’re facing this issue squarely. If you’ve already successfully balanced school and working full time, by all means mention it.
(Optional) Is there anything else you would like to add that would help us in evaluating your candidacy? (No word limit)
This question’s wording indicates that you can use the optional essay not just to explain a problem (low GMAT, employment gap) but also to present new material that you think will enhance your application. However, if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there better be a darn good reason, not just that something is nice to know. First, succinctly explain any points that need explaining. Then, if there is something you feel is important that you haven’t had a chance to discuss elsewhere, write about it, noting why it’s important for the adcom to know.
If you would like help with Wharton’s essays, please consider Accepted.com’s Wharton Executive Packages or our other MBA admissions consulting and MBA essay editing services.
Deadlines: San Francisco: December 3, 2012 (early), February 6, 2013 (regular); Philadelphia: February 4, 2012 (regular only; if you require an early decision please see website instructions).
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, "Ace the EMBA."
Accepted.com's experienced admissions consultants can help you create the most impressive application possible with comprehensive packages, or provide targeted assistance from picking perfect programs to designing a dazzling resume, constructing engaging essays, or preparing for intense interviews…and more! Accepted.com has guided thousands of applicants to acceptances at top MBA programs since 1994 – we know what works and what doesn't, so contact us to get started now!
This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.