Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips 2023-2024

Ross MBA Essay

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is a top-ranked MBA program that provides real-world opportunities for students. Ross MBA essays are about demonstrating you fit in the culture. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful. Review our Ross MBA essay tips and show the admissions committee you are intellectually curious and able to accomplish your goals.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast Episode #156: Spotlight on Michigan Ross

Part 1: Short Answer Questions

Select one prompt from each group. Respond to your selected prompts using 100 words or fewer (<100 words each; 200 words total).

Group 1

• I want people to know that I:
• I made a difference when I:
• I was aware that I was different when:

Group 2

• I was out of my comfort zone when:
• I was humbled when:
• I was challenged when:

Take note that these short answers are about getting to know you personally—not your collection of accomplishments. Ross values community engagement, interpersonal communication, and teamwork skills. The admissions committee says clearly: “The most interesting and insightful responses to these prompts remain when applicants share personal examples.”

For example, you may want to write about an important extracurricular moment. Or maybe a challenge you overcame or a life event that highlights something unique about your background. The questions are short and purposeful. The experiences you describe should be clear and stand alone.

Looking at each Ross MBA essay group in turn, Group 1 might be an opportunity to talk about your values and background. It reads as a place to highlight what drives and motivates you on a deeper level than your career.

The first open-ended prompt allows you to talk about something you feel proud of—a personal quality or experience. For the next prompt, you could describe when you made a difference to an organization or person or advanced an important cause.

Finally, the last prompt is about how you are unique. Consider what sets you apart from others and what unique qualities you will bring to Ross.

Group 2 is more about your reaction to events in your life and your character. In addition, it could be an essay to describe your accomplishments. How do you interpret what happens to you and how do you handle adversity and discomfort? Perhaps you have had unique experiences in life thus far.

For example, living outside your home country, working with diverse groups, or overcoming a challenge at work or in your personal life. In essence, this is an opportunity to shine with your best stories of work, school, and relationships.

Are you curious about your chances of getting into Michigan Ross School of Business? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 

Ross MBA essay

Part 2: Career Goal

What is your short-term career goal and why is this the right goal for you? (150 words)

The Ross admissions committee has often said the best essays are focused. Remember, the ‘why’ is the most impactful and differentiating aspect of each essay. Therefore, Ross is asking for a succinct career goal and then an explanation.

Many MBA candidates struggle to refine a career goal to just one. Of course, it’s possible to change your goals once you start attending school. However, clear goals tend to lead to success. If you have several career interests, take the time to choose one. Consider how your career goal makes you feel. Can you envision the company you will work for? What about your day-to-day tasks?

Precisely imagining your goal also helps with the “why.” Consider what is most appealing about your goal. Why are you interested in it? Also, why are you a good fit for the role? Specific examples that showcase your personality will help!

Ross MBA essay

Optional Statement

Is there something in your resume or application that could use some explanation? You might want to discuss the completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Take it directly from former Ross admissions director Soojin Kwon: “The optional essay should only be used if there’s something in your background that requires a brief explanation. It’s not the place to submit an essay you wrote for another school or to tell us how much you love Ross.”

Think about anything that may raise questions while reviewing a resume, transcript, or recommendations. Typically the kinds of gaps that raise questions are significant gaps in employment (more than a few months), anything below a C on your college transcript (particularly in quantitative coursework), and low test scores.

For more information on applying to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, please visit the admissions website.


Stacy Blackman Consulting has successfully coached applicants for the Ross MBA program each admissions year. Now that you’ve seen these tips for the Ross MBA essay prompts, please contact us to learn more about how we can help you set a winning application strategy. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the AdCom expertise on the 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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