Tuesday Tips: NYU Stern Essays and Tips for 2023-2024

NYU Stern essays

Are you getting ready to apply to The New York University Stern School of Business? Today, we’re sharing our tips for the NYU Stern essays. The goal is to help you create a positive impression through your application materials. Stern’s MBA admissions team says it seeks “students who best exemplify Stern’s core value: IQ+EQ. Our admissions committee takes care to select those who demonstrate strong intellectual ability, superior interpersonal skills, and a desire to create value for business and society.”

The parameters of IQ and EQ that are important to Stern MBA are academic, professional, and personal. The admissions team will evaluate your academic ability mainly through your GMAT and GPA. However, the NYU Stern essays play a crucial part in your application strategy. In particular, they give insight into your career goals and personality.

Again this year, NYU Stern asks for two EQ Endorsements with your application.

• The endorsement must be from someone who knows you personally and/or professionally and can act as a persuasive advocate of your EQ strengths.
• More details can be found here and on the NYU admissions website.

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. 

NYU Stern Essays

Short Answer: Professional Aspirations
(150 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
What are your short-term career goals?

Instead of answering why an MBA is necessary for your goals, NYU simply asks what they are. However, while many people seek an MBA degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Therefore, make sure you have a reason for an MBA from Stern to achieve your goals.

Post-MBA short-term goals ideally are both achievable and aspirational. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you. As a result, you should use the NYU Stern essays to show you are ready for the opportunities.

First, think about your past work experience, your MBA education, and a logical short-term goal. Ideally, your goal pulls from your recent work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program. Also, use specific examples if space allows.

Finally, with only 150 words to use, you should focus on your career goal and basic background information. Then, ideally, the rest of the application will fill out your holistic ambitions.

Essay 1: Change: _________ it

(350 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. Using NYU Stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. Change: _____ it. Fill in the blank with a word of your choice. Why does this word resonate with you? How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern? Examples:

Change: Dare it.
Change: Dream it.
Change: Drive it.
Change: Empower it.
Change: Manifest it.
Change: [Any word of your choice.]

In a repeat from previous seasons, Stern asks a question about your attitude toward change. Given the events of the past few years, it seems appropriate to focus on how you embrace change. First, this is a question about feelings. Second, it asks you to use branding techniques to communicate. As a result, there is both substance and style to this question.

If you feel daunted by choosing one word to explain your feelings about change, start with the substance of the essay. That means considering how you have embraced change and made it work for you. Did you need to pivot careers due to a layoff? Have you learned more about yourself as a result of social changes? What did the past several years teach you about the world?

Finally, this essay is an opportunity to communicate. Because Stern describes the school’s brand call to action, you should think about your brand. For example, if you are the kind of person who leads a team through a vision, you might choose Change: Inspire It. Or, if you are more practical, you might use the branding: Change: Build It. In conclusion, your goal is to choose the one word that speaks to your style and approach as a leader.

NYu Stern essays

Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).

  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.

  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.

A favorite American idiom says, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In this essay, you have six pictures to use. To get started, think about how you will choose the images to communicate with your future classmates and Stern MBA admissions. Think about the story you want to tell. Is it a collage of your life or a progression? How do the pictures work together to tell the story?

While the medium can be anything, your content is the vital part of this essay. First, brainstorm the information you want to convey. Then, think about your unique personal qualities and what your friends and family value most in you.  Next, ask yourself how you would want your classmates to see you. Finally, what information would you share with a new friend?

Building a narrative through images

Your six images may be all personal, all professional (not recommended!), demonstrate deeper meaning for you, or be aspirational and future-oriented. Also, you might want to show a journey you have taken or a person who is important to you. Or you could show a vision of your future desires and plans.

Isser Gallogly, associate dean of MBA admissions, has said that this question is similar to the kind of post you might share on social media to tell your friends about your life. As a result, images are more and more important in digital communication. Therefore, this essay asks you to use images as the primary form (drawings, photos, infographics, or any other images you choose).

The one-sentence caption for each image will also be an opportunity to contextualize. For example, if you show an image of a happy family, what does that say about your past or future? Who are the people to you? Finally, if you use a picture of a place or time, words can explain its importance to you.

Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

(250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.

This optional essay allows you to explain anything that is not clear in your application. For example, maybe your academic record shows any grades of C or below in a quantitative course, or your GMAT is low. If so, you will want to explain that you are academically prepared. And, any explanation should include the reasons you will perform strongly in your academic courses at NYU.

Additionally, if you have a gap in work experience, this is the place to provide context. Therefore, describe what you were doing during the interval. And, take the time to explain but not excuse. Finally, remember that you never need to use the optional essay if the information in your application is straightforward on its own.


For more information on applying, visit the NYU Stern admissions website. To talk to Stacy Blackman Consulting about your MBA plans, don’t hesitate to contact us!  We offer multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help reviewing your MBA resume.  Contact SBC 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.

(Image by Ajay Suresh CC BY 2.0)

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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