Duke Essay Tips

Short Essay 1: Why are you interested in The Duke MBA and how will it help you achieve your goals? Please also discuss your career path, including your short and long-term professional goals.
This question is similar to career goals/why MBA question for many schools. As with Stanford, Chicago, and UCLA, you must be specific about why Duke – which academic programs, classes, clubs, etc are related to your career goals. Because this essay is short, be efficient in your wording when discussing your path and future goals. However, it is worth it to spend some words on why your goals are meaningful to you.

Short Essay 2: How will your background, values, and non-work related activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to the diverse culture we strive for at Fuqua?
This is your opportunity to show them who you will be on their campus – how you will stand out from your classmates and impact their school. Get creative and show them your personality, unique aspects of your background (experiences from childhood or your culture), things you like to do outside of work (they do not have to be organized activities), and then explain how these things will play out on their campus. You can suggest clubs you’ll be a part of (or start) or just what you are like as a friend. Show them who you are and what that means for your future classmates. Try to be as specific as possible.

Long Essay 1: Please respond fully and concisely to one of the following essay topics. Clearly identify which question you have selected.
a. To be a good team player, one needs to be an effective individual leader and vice-versa. Describe an example of where you were challenged to become a leader in a team-oriented context. What was the challenge you faced, how did you address it, and what did you take away from the experience for your future development as a leader?
There are a few specifics in this question to note – they want an example from when you were leading a team and a challenge. Set up the experience quickly and focus your actions and reflection. Spell out what you did to address the challenge, but be sure to dedicate a lot of space for your reflection on lessons learned and how you have applied those lessons and what more you have to work on.

b. Describe a situation in which your ability to perform ethically was challenged. What was the issue, how did you handle it, and what did you learn from it?
In describing the situation, try not to disparage any other people. This essay is a good opportunity to demonstrate your values, just be sure to focus on yourself without making assumptions about other people involved. State what was challenging for you. Spend the majority of your words on your actions in handling the situation and, of course, your reflection and how you’ve applied lessons learned.

c. Describe a significant leadership failure in your life. What did you learn from this failure? How has it impacted who you are today and the kind of leader you would like to be?
This is a wonderful opportunity to show self-awareness. Again, be brief in describing the incident. Focus on the positive by giving thoughtful reflection and a description of how you’ve changed since then. Revealing weaknesses and how you’ve overcome them shows maturity. Show them your theory on leadership and the kind of leader you intend to be in the future.

Long Essay 2: How has your personal history and family background influenced your intellectual and personal development? What unique personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have achieved professionally.
Follow the instructions to focus on who you are instead of what you have done professionally. In discussing your family and background, you can tell stories about your childhood, cultural experiences, travel, etc. Don’t be afraid to get personal and emotional about the important people and events in your life and how they have shaped you. However, you don’t have enough space to tell your whole life story. So try to think back to what’s important and find themes that you can cleanly present with vivid examples.


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