Columbia EMBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines

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Columbia Business School EMBA 2018-19 essay tips

The first 2 Columbia EMBA essay questions ask you to project into the future, both near and long term – they address what you hope, plan, want, and expect. The third essay question looks back: it gets into the nitty-gritty of what you did.

In the first essays, beware of the tendency to write mainly generic, abstract “stuff”: ideas, thoughts, buzz words. Even though not specified in the question, grounding those essays in your experience is the key to making them credible and dynamic.

And in the third essay, beware of only telling the facts of the story: Columbia wants people with something to say about their experiences. Even if just a sentence, present some insight or reflection in that essay.

These approaches will enable you to create a vivid, meaningful picture of your candidacy. Considering the scant opportunity to discuss past professional achievements in the essays, your resume carries all the more weight in the Columbia EMBA application – attend to it accordingly.

Columbia EMBA Application Essays

Columbia Executive MBA Short-Answer Question

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses: 1) “Work in business development for a media company.” 2) “Join a strategy consulting firm.” 3)“Launch a data-management start-up.”

As their examples show, a factual phrase or bullet will suffice; don’t worry about responding with a whole sentence. Do include function and industry.

Columbia EMBA Essay #1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years, and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

You may start by mentioning your current career situation to set the context, and how the MBA education will enable you to achieve important immediate goals. You can then naturally move on to your short-term, or 3-5 year, goals. Give solid detail about the role(s) you plan during these years: position, company, scope of accountability, what you want to accomplish, and how you hope to grow (or, to put it another way, why you want to pursue this path).

Your longer-term “dream job” needs less detail and should of course reflect some reasonable trajectory from the earlier role. Yet the wording of “dream job” instead of “long-term goal” plus “in your imagination” provides an invitation (even encouragement) to be open, to “go for it.” Put some heart and risk into this future vision and think beyond just practical considerations. If it’s a dream job, it should be ambitious in a way that is meaningful and enticing to you. Make the reader feel your excitement.

There is no request to explain “why Columbia” in the question, but it would be fine to add a sentence or two about what is truly compelling to you about the program, if you have something thoughtful and insightful to say in this regard. And only if.

Columbia EMBA Essay #2

Columbia Business School’s Executive MBA will challenge you by offering a rigorous academic experience, global exposure through the international seminar, and the opportunity to immediately apply what you learn to your career. How will you approach balancing the demands of the program with your professional and personal life while you are in school? (250 words)

Discuss the accommodations you will make at work, such as delegating more, adjusting travel schedules, etc. Focus on the most significant two or three adjustments.

Also address your personal responsibilities and how you will meet them with this additional demand on your time and energy; include 1-2 specific changes (probably, sacrifices), e.g. acknowledging that you’ll have less time at the playground with your toddler or mentioning the support of your significant other.

If you’ve already successfully balanced school and working full time, mention it. Nothing is better than actual evidence that you can juggle a demanding schedule.

Columbia EMBA Essay #3

Please provide an example of a team failure of which you have been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently? (250 words)

I suggest making this essay do “double duty”: while engagingly answering the question, also let it show you in a relatively recent role with meaningful stakes, to maximize its strategic benefit.

Given the brevity of the essay, an efficient and effective approach is to draft it straightforwardly as a story. Set the scene (where, when, why, what, who), and narrate what happened. Frankly address your own part of the failure (though you needn’t shoulder all responsibility if that’s not the situation) and avoid seeming to blame others. Conclude with the discussion of what you’d do differently – and beyond what, note why. It may be just a phrase, but the “why” is the evidence of your ability to both analyze and synthesize. And Columbia values that intellectual capability in its leaders.

Another option: If you subsequently implemented the lessons learned with a successful outcome, mentioning this later experience would be an excellent note upon which to end your response. Obviously, you must write succinctly and focus only on the essentials of your story.

Columbia EMBA Optional Essay

An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

This question invites you to present new material that will enhance your application, as well as explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as non-necessary points, since you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing. Finally, keep it short.

For expert guidance with your Columbia EMBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to Columbia's EMBA program and look forward to helping you too!

Columbia EMBA Application Deadlines for 2019 Start

Program Name Entry Date Application Deadline
EMBA-Americas January 2019 October 24, 2018
EMBA-New York Saturday May 2019 Early Decision - January 9, 2019

Final Decision - February 20, 2019

EMBA-New York Friday/Saturday August 2019 Early Decision– Mar. 20, 2019

Final Decision – May 29, 2019

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

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Cindy TokumitsuCindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!


Related Resources:

• The Expanded Executive MBA Profile, a series for the rising executive
• The MBA Menu at Columbia Business School, a podcast episode
• Meet Dr. Nadia Afridi, Plastic Surgeon, Recent Columbia EMBA, and Mom, a podcast episode

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