USC MBA Essay Tips

Describe in a brief essay (do not exceed 250 words per section – 750 words maximum):
a) your post-MBA short-term goals (immediately after graduation)
Your short term goals should be a transition to your long term goals.
b) your post-MBA long-term goals (3-5 years after graduation)
c) how your professional experience, when combined with an MBA degree, will enable you to achieve these goals

This is a fairly brief USC MBA essay. So be concrete, specific, and concise. At the same time, leave room for the purpose and meaning behind your goals. Though you should try to stick with 250 words per section, focus on answering all three questions within the overall word limit.

The short-term goals section is usually the shortest part of the essay. You could have a few paths that would lead you to your long term goals. Just explain why these options will help you transition from your MBA to your long term goals.

For the long-term goals, expand on beyond the simple statement of what you want to do. Explain the meaning behind these goals. Think broadly about yourself as a leader – what do you hope to change; how do you hope to impact the world. This could mean sharing a bit on how you came to these goals. Schools want to understand the WHY behind your decisions (past and future), so explain why these goals result in your making the impact that you are seeking to make on the world.

Finally, in articulating how your professional experience combined with MBA will prepare you, do not just give an extended version of the resume. Instead, try to draw out the skills and characteristics you’ve built. Keep the focus on your qualities that have developed and then discuss what you still need from business school to fill in the gaps, take you to the next level of leadership, etc.

2) Complete one of the following three statements. Do not exceed 250 words.
a) “My most significant accomplishment to date is”¦”

This is an excellent opportunity to present your values. This does not need to be a work accomplishment. Try to think about what is truly important to you in life. Be succinct but focus less on the details of the accomplishment and more on WHY you view this as an accomplishment.

b) “People may be surprised to learn that I”¦”
Here you have the opportunity to round out your application by discussing a surprising aspect of your background or mitigating a red flag. This essay can be humorous or poignant, just be real. Show the USC MBA your self-awareness, resiliency, and passion for living a well-rounded life.

c) “I am considered a leader because”¦”
Self-awareness is a hallmark of maturity. Give a genuine assessment of yourself and how others see you in a leadership context. Certainly you should articulate your strengths but don’t shy away from reflection on areas in which you hope to develop your skills.

3) Answer two of the following questions. Do not exceed 500 words per question.
a) The USC MBA Prime Program prepares students for doing business in a global economy. Describe a cross-cultural experience that challenged you. How did you meet this challenge and what did you learn from this experience?

With this essay you can show your critical thinking, sensitivity, and self-awareness. You want to provide a surprising experience when you found yourself out of your element and learned something about your assumptions. Show how you changed as a person by learning from others.

b) The USC MBA program has garnered national acclaim for its emphasis on community outreach and service. How have you impacted your community?
Quality of service is more important than quantity in answering this. They are not looking for a list of your activities but rather a thoughtful reflection on the impact you have made on others.

c) We all experience significant events or milestones that influence the course of our lives. Briefly describe such an event and how it affected you.
This is obviously a great chance to address an aspect of your personal background that may distinguish you. Remember to remain positive. Briefly state the event, then focus on your actions and the lessons learned.

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