Tuesday Tips: Duke MBA Essays and Tips for 2023-2024

Duke MBA essays

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is a community-oriented program seeking a diverse class of accomplished students.  The Duke MBA essays remain the same this year. As you decide what to write about in your essays, carefully review the application instructions. The Duke Fuqua admissions committee seeks a well-rounded class of MBA students who are motivated and collaborative. Give serious thought to what you value in an MBA program. Part of your research on Duke Fuqua should include talking to current students and alums.  And remember, make sure you let your personality shine through in the application!

Learn all about Team Fuqua on B-Schooled Podcast Episode #84: Spotlight on Fuqua

Duke MBA Essays and Tips

Required Short-Answer Essay Question

Instructions: Answer the following question in 100 words. What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first-choice career plan and your alternate plan.

This is a concise essay asking for your vision for your career. Think big picture and focus on the overall story trajectory. How will your career goals flow from the combination of your MBA and your past experiences? The career goals essay is about your ability to assess your skills and plan for the future. However, it’s not a commitment to a specific path.

Listen as SBC consultant Sherry, former assistant director of admissions at the Fuqua School of Business, explains how to clearly and concisely express your post-MBA career goals.

@stacyblackmanconsulting #sbcyourfuture ? original sound – Stacy Blackman Consulting

To that point, Duke MBA admissions wants to know your first and alternate choices in careers. In response, think about goals that fit with your background and personality. Also, show what you could explore if your first plan doesn’t work out. Flexibility is helpful in a changing world and valuable for this Duke MBA essay.

For example, say your primary goal is to work in marketing in the consumer packaged goods industry. Therefore, you might be interested in a company like General Mills. If you don’t find the right job in that industry after Duke, maybe you would consider marketing for a retailer, such as Target. This could be an alternative career path because it allows you to develop a marketing career while remaining flexible about the industry.

Or, you may have two separate interests and want to consider both of them. Your Plan A is to join a strategy consulting firm after graduation. However, if you don’t receive a job at your top choice firm, you would think about co-founding a start-up as another possible path. Think about your range of interests and go from there.

Because you have limited space in this Duke MBA essay, boil your plans down to a clear statement. You should support any ideas for an MBA and career goals with the information provided in your resume, recommendations, and other essays. In particular, Duke Fuqua should be the ideal training ground for your future career.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school such as Duke Fuqua? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 

Duke MBA essays

First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself

The ‘Team Fuqua’ spirit and community is one of the things that sets the MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. Please share with us “25 Random Things” about you. The Admissions Committee wants to get to know YOU – beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.

Your list will be limited to 2 pages (750 words maximum). Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be brief, while others may be longer.

This Duke MBA essay is entirely open-ended. As a result, you can cover your background, work experiences, values, and hobbies. This is the place to tell your most compelling stories and make sure that personal topics are relevant to your Duke Fuqua application.

To help you answer this question, the Duke admissions committee has posted its own 25 Random Things examples. These range from very personal (engagement stories) to inspiring (starting a company from nothing). Consider the variety of responses as you draft your list.

Twenty-five random things may seem impossible to come up with at first. Therefore, start your creative process by brainstorming with friends and family. First, ask them what they think is unique and memorable about you. Then, ask them to share the first story that comes to mind when asked about you. Another idea is to keep a notebook handy at all times to record your thoughts as inspiration strikes.

Once you have 25 random things, how do you structure your list? You can structure it chronologically, thematically, or even alphabetically. Also, you could organize the list so that it builds from shorter to longer items. Another idea is to alternate paragraphs of explanations with sets of one-sentence items.

Structure the list to make it easy to read and follow. But resist the urge to package the list too perfectly. Remember, content is always the essential part of these Duke MBA essays. Also, the point of this essay is to show Fuqua your personality. This makes the essay a crucial part of your overall Duke Fuqua application.

Learn more about SBC’s 2-hour strategy engagement, which explores your strengths and weaknesses, target schools, positioning and differentiation AND allows you to test the waters with your consultant before committing to a full package.

Second Required Essay: the Fuqua Community and You

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and to the development of leaders. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are 3 ways you expect to contribute at Fuqua?

Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).

For this Duke Fuqua MBA essay, you should be specific about why Team Fuqua is the right place for you. As a result, the best Duke MBA essays will be personal yet informed. Everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network. Therefore, what will you specifically give and receive from your classmates?

Duke MBA essays

To decide on areas to focus on for this short essay, think about your past experiences. First, does Fuqua have clubs that match your interests? Next, what classes are intriguing and would help you build upon your knowledge? Finally, offer specific examples from your past experiences to show your passions.

Fit with the program is crucial. Ideally, you would showcase personal qualities that Duke Fuqua values. For example, Fuqua is especially interested in your role within your community. Community involvement, therefore, has significant weight in your Duke Fuqua application.

Also, This essay can be a place to talk about how the Duke MBA fits into your career goals. What do you know now that a Fuqua MBA education will further enhance? And what skills will you learn at Duke to benefit your future?

Overall, the main focus should be your contributions to the Duke community. Think about how you plan to improve the experience of others at Duke.

Fuqua School of Business – Keller Center East – Hall of Flags

Optional Essay: Tell Us More

If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Information section is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your circumstances only. Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).

Remember, this essay is only for exceptional circumstances. Therefore, do not use this essay to add new information to your Duke Fuqua application. If you have a low GPA, a gap in work history, or recommender issues, you should write this essay. Otherwise, plan to skip this question.

Focus on explanations and future performance in this essay. In a factual and positive manner, write that you know there could be questions about your background. Then, describe how you have improved. Your goal is to show that you have addressed or corrected any past issues. You are now on a successful trajectory and can handle Duke Fuqua’s academics. Overall your goal is to show you are ready to contribute to Duke Fuqua.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help reviewing your MBA resume.  Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

With deadlines around the corner, you may be interested in the world-famous SBC Flight Test. Once a full set of application materials for your initial school have been drafted, but not finalized, the application will be sent to a former admissions committee member for a one-time review, adcomm style. You’ll have the benefit of a true admissions committee review while still having the ability to tinker and change.  You will receive written feedback within two business days after submitting.

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