Tuesday Tips: Kellogg MBA Essay Tips 2024-2025

Kellogg MBA essay tips

If you are getting ready to apply to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management this year, these Kellogg MBA essay tips will help you prepare to knock it out of the park. The Kellogg School is a close-knit community that values a diverse community and philanthropy. Our insiders tell us that candidates who show the right combination of high-impact leadership and humility demonstrate “Kellogg DNA.”

Is Kellogg the right fit for you? To find out, do your research. For example, what are the programs, activities, clubs, and classes you are most excited about? While you are talking to students and alumni, look for ways you will contribute to the Kellogg MBA community.

Advice From One of SBC’s Resident Kellogg Experts

Caryn Altman, a tenured consultant on our SBC team, previously served as a Kellogg admissions officer and also holds an MBA from the school. For these Kellogg MBA essay tips, Caryn describes the importance of “unique points of difference” throughout your entire application—essays, resume, interview, etc. It can be challenging to distinguish yourself from other applicants of similar backgrounds.

“This is especially the case for those coming from oversubscribed professional backgrounds such as consulting and banking, along with oversubscribed populations from particular areas of the world,” Caryn notes.

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

Kellogg MBA essay tips

With the rise of generative AI tools, Kellogg has included directions to cite any use:

Generative AI can be a powerful aid in crafting an essay, but it should be used as a supplementary tool rather than a replacement for your own effort and creativity. If you choose to use generative AI in your essays, do so with integrity to ensure you provide genuine insights and reflections. You should also cite the use of generative AI by referencing the tool at the conclusion of your essay (Name of Tool, URL).

Be honest here, and make sure you cite the tool you may have used. If you do choose to use AI for this set of essays, be sure to fact check any information gathered. In total, these essays should reflect your own ideas and personal details.

Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

Essay One: Intentionality is a key aspect of what makes our graduates successful Kellogg leaders. Help us understand your journey by articulating your motivations for pursuing an MBA, the specific goals you aim to achieve, and why you believe now is the right moment. Moreover, share why you feel Kellogg is best suited to serve as a catalyst for your career aspirations and what you will contribute to our community of lifelong learners during your time here. (450 words)

This career goals essay focuses on why you are pursuing an MBA, why now, and your professional aspirations. Note that Kellogg uses the term “intentionality,” which demonstrates that you are in charge of your own career and your goal orientation. Professionals with clear and realistic goals are most successful, and Kellogg is seeking successful graduates and leaders.

Therefore, the narrative of this essay should provide insight into your decision to pursue an MBA. As you review your career so far, note the moments of intentionality. When did you make a conscious choice to pursue one opportunity over another? Did you have a master plan, or did you follow your interests and strengths?

Either way, demonstrate that you moved from one inflection point to another purposefully. As you consider your MBA, what is motivating that choice? Think about your post-MBA career goals and what you will learn in the MBA program as inputs to this decision.

This essay question is important because it asks why now is the right time for your MBA. For many candidates, the MBA might be the next box to check on their career ladder. For others, there are other possible routes to take. Therefore, spend time describing why this is the right moment on your journey.

Finally, demonstrate you’ve done research to determine that Kellogg is the right place to pursue your MBA. What classes, professors, or internships will accelerate your goals? Think about the areas where you need to develop for your post-MBA leadership journey. Ideally, you connect with the Kellogg community as part of your research and visit campus or attend information sessions in person.

Learn more about this program on B-Schooled Podcast #86: Spotlight on Kellogg School of Management

Essay Two: Kellogg leaders are primed to tackle challenges everywhere, from the boardroom to their neighborhoods. Describe a specific professional experience where you had to make a difficult decision. Reflecting on this experience, identify the values that guided your decision-making process and how it impacted your leadership style. (450 words)

This essay focuses on leadership using a behavioral essay framework (the clue is “tell us about a time…”). Details about exactly what you did, said and learned to provide details about your skills.

As you structure the essay, spend some time setting up the background of the story. Then use most of the space to describe what you did, thought, and felt and how you behaved. Also, use details to entice the reader and set yourself apart. A few well-placed specifics will add color without adding length to these Kellogg MBA essays. Make sure you are outlining the skills that you used in this example.

If you choose a challenging situation that you overcame, be sure to include lessons learned. In addition, describe the various skills used. Also, showing you are open to feedback so you can improve will be an asset.

As you consider the skills you highlight in your example, don’t neglect teamwork, a core value at Kellogg. Your leadership experience is likely part of a team at work or in an extracurricular activity. Also, collaboration demonstrates maturity and social skills. Finally, make sure you explain what you accomplished in this example. Ideally, it is impactful to the organization and those around you.

Career Goals Short Answer Questions: Please tell us about your career goals. You’ll also have the opportunity to expand on this in other parts of the evaluation process.

Short-answer question #1: Share with us the motivations behind your desired industry/function after graduating from Kellogg. (500 characters)

First, consider intentionality when describing your motivations to pursue your industry and function. Second, what past experiences and research have taught you about this career path. Third, be specific and brief in your response.

Short-answer question #2: What does a successful career look like five years after you graduate from Kellogg? (500 characters)

Each person defines success differently. After some time in your industry and function, what does a successful career look like? It may be promotion to the next level, having an impact on your organization, or accomplishing a specific career milestone. Again, intentionality will lead you to your longer-term goal and help you define success for yourself.

Kellogg MBA essay tips

The Video Essay

The Kellogg admissions team advises the following in regards to the video essay: We’ve read your essays, we’ve read your resume — now we want you to bring all that to life in a video. Show us the person behind all those carefully crafted words.
The video will be comprised of three questions, each designed to help you showcase your personality and share some of the experiences that brought you here today.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to complete this section:

  • Video essays are due 96 hours after the application deadline.
  • A video essay link will appear on your application status page after you submit your application and payment.
  • You will need an internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone
  • The video should take about 20-25 minutes to complete, which includes time for setup.

Watching a video essay gives the admissions committee a truer sense of who you are. Therefore, the Kellogg admissions committee advises: “Be yourself. We don’t want scripted answers — we want to get to know you and learn something new. Please do not try to reuse an example from an essay that might, in some roundabout way, answer the video essay question asked. We already read that essay, so why tell us that story again?”

Kellogg’s video essays should reveal your personality. Preparation will help you be comfortable and be yourself when you are recording the video. That said, it’s essential not to sound like you are “acting.”

Also, it would be useful to do a few rounds of practice in front of the camera to get comfortable. Draft a friend or family member to ask you some common interview questions and record your answers. Think of a few personal stories about your background that may be good examples for the video questions you are presented with.

Kellogg MBA essay tips

Reapplicant Essay: How have you grown or changed personally and professionally since you previously applied and what steps have you taken to become the strongest candidate you can be? (approximately 250 words)

Provide tangible evidence that you have improved your candidacy in this answer. Some visible improvements could be a higher GMAT score. Also, grades from any new quantitative classes you took.

In addition, you could describe a promotion at work or new volunteer activities. Another area could be increased responsibility at work or in your extracurriculars. Or, discuss how your career goals have changed. Finally, you could focus on how you have refined your personal goals.


Now that you’ve seen these Kellogg MBA essay tips, would you like personalized help with your MBA applications? Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your needs, from our All-In Partnership to test prep to hourly help with targeted tasks. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. 

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

Stacy Blackman

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Kellogg, Booth and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Beth who held the position of Director of Admissions for Kellogg’s Full Time MBA program selecting candidates for the 2-year, 1-year, MMM and JD MBA programs.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.

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