Kellogg School of Management 2018-2019 MBA Essay Tips and Application Deadlines

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Kellogg School of Management is a top-ranked business school, with renowned faculty and a strong focus on student culture. It’s also a popular choice for professionals who want to focus on a specific aspect of career development or management training, thanks to the school’s streamlined One-Year MBA Program.

Applicants for both the One-Year MBA and the traditional two-year MBA program complete the same application, and have the same application deadlines. One-Year MBA applicants are strongly encouraged to apply in Round 1 or 2 because of the program’s earlier start date.


  • Round one: September 19, 2018
  • Round two: January 9, 2019
  • Round three: April 10, 2019

Writing Your First 2018-2019 Kellogg MBA Application Essay

The school’s first essay prompt reads:

“Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip, and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Tell us about a time when you have demonstrated leadership and created lasting value. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)”

Talking about challenges is a common way for business schools to approach the idea of leadership. Your challenges can be external or internal. Maybe you faced challenges because no one had ever done what you were attempting to do before, and it was hard to get funding; or maybe you faced challenges because you had to overcome your fears and doubts.

Kellogg is emphasizing bravery and challenges here – don’t be afraid to be a bit vulnerable about what you faced. It’s all about seeing a problem, and coming up with the tools to solve that problem.

Creating lasting value is another way of saying that they want you to be able to identify problems that are important, and come up with valuable solutions (not just temporary band-aids for the issue). It doesn’t have to be tangible or monetary to be important (although quantifiable helps!).

For example, creating a program to mentor younger students would be creating lasting value, particularly if you can share examples of students who have gone through the program and achieved success.

Also, note that leadership often means thinking differently: approaching a problem in a way that other people have not, using resources in a novel way, even realizing something is a problem when other people see it as just “the way things are”. It can be very brave to step up and say, “Hey, I know we’ve been doing things like this for a while, but I think there’s a better way.”

The good news is that you can also choose examples from your work environment as well as beyond the work space. The key is to focus on the impact and show that you did creating lasting value which required you to step out of your comfort zone and be bold.

Writing The Second 2018-2019 Kellogg MBA Application Essay

The second Kellogg essay prompt reads:

“Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)”

Note that this question asks about both personal and professional growth. While you should focus primarily on the professional, don’t be afraid to speak to your personal growth a bit as well.

This is a great place to mitigate some of the weaknesses of your overall application package. If you had poor grades at the start of your undergrad experience, or a bit of a spotty work history, and you can point to some real personal growth that you’ve gone through to turn things around, it’s a lot better than leaving those things unremarked upon.

That does NOT mean you should make excuses – you need to be able to point to some real work you did to make changes in your life.

The bulk of your response for this essay should focus on two things: your personal brand, as reflected in the arc of your career and professional growth, and your knowledge about what Kellogg offers that you find appealing. Almost every business school will ask you to write an essay about why you want to attend their MBA program in particular; this is Kellogg’s version.

As the school itself makes very clear, student culture is incredibly important at Kellogg. So if you want to talk about how you plan to grow during your time there, you absolutely need to talk about how you’ll get involved with your class and with the groups, programs, and activities the school offers.

Mastering the Kellogg 2018-2019 Video Essay

Kellogg is unique among MBA programs in their approach to interviews, and this philosophy extends to the video essay.

While the school makes it their goal to interview every single applicant, in some areas (like India) where they receive a significant number of applications, they are not able to conduct in-person interviews with all candidates. The video essay is especially important for applicants in those areas, as it may be their only chance to “meet” the adcom.

As the admissions committee puts it, “Student culture is hugely important at Kellogg. So we want to meet everyone. EVERYONE. … [The video essay] gives us a sense of your personality and allows us to get to know you in a more personal way than we can through your essays.”

The school does not release their video essay questions ahead of time – they don’t want applicants to essentially read a script of their response on video. After all, a big part of the video essay is for the adcom to see how well you do under pressure and how well you can think on your feet.

However, while we don’t know the specific questions you’ll be asked for your video essay, the school typically follows a similar three-question pattern.

The first question is an icebreaker, something like “What was the most interesting class you took during undergrad?” or “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” or “If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?” The goal is to loosen you up and learn a bit about your personality.

The second question is usually a straightforward question about your post-MBA plans and why you are applying to Kellogg in particular. While you should have done a lot of thinking about this topic in order to respond to the second written essay prompt, make sure you’re not just regurgitating your response from that essay. You can use the same themes, but try not to use the same words.

This is where lots of brainstorming before you write your essays comes in handy – you should have plenty of ideas that didn’t make the cut for a 450-word essay!

The final question is typically an interview-style question, usually relating to the workplace or to your leadership skills. Examples might include “What impact do you have on your co-workers?” or “Tell me about a time when you’ve overcome an obstacle in the workplace.”

For each question, you’ll have 20 seconds to think and 60 seconds to give your response. When you’re preparing for the Kellogg video essay, timing is THE most important thing to prepare for. You won’t get a second chance to record once you’re in the actual video essay portion of the application, and you will be nervous, so it’s crucial that you have a clear sense of just how much time you have.

Aside from that, your best bet is to spend a good deal of time thinking about your personal brand and your research into Kellogg’s culture. You may not know exactly what they’re going to ask ahead of time, but you can be clear on the message you want to get across.

Are you ready to apply to Kellogg?

Whether you’re looking to complete your business school education in one year or two, Kellogg is a great choice for an MBA program. But creating a compelling application requires a thorough understanding of your own personal brand, so that you can show the admissions committee how you’ll add value to the culture of their school.

If you’d like help developing your personal brand or creating a compelling, effective MBA application package, EXPARTUS can help. Our admissions consultants have helped hundreds of students gain admission to top MBA programs by focusing on their strengths and telling their story well. Get started today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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