Graduate Admissions Top Tips

2019-2020 MBA Plans & Essay Prompts

By: Dr. Kristen Willmott

It’s that time of year when students have graduated from college and are thinking about their future, or those out of college for a year or two wonder about next steps. MBA admissions inquiries are plentiful here at Top Tier Admissions! Now that it’s June, more and more top MBA programs have started to release their 2019-2020 MBA deadlines, notification dates and essay prompts for the upcoming MBA admissions season, and some have even adjusted their number of rounds AND moved their round 1 deadline earlier than ever before (talking to you, Harvard!) —and we’re all over it for you.

If you’re targeting a top MBA program, then you know that aiming for the round 1 deadline is key. However, if your GMAT isn’t where it needs to be, or you’re about to land a promotion with a new leadership role at work that will amount to a big resume boost, then the later rounds are not going to kill your admissions odds and may well be something to consider.


Maybe that means you start off by taking this summer to boost your application odds and resume with:

We’ve helped applicants secure admission to many of the best MBA programs in the world and would love to help you as well.

MBA Programs 2019-2020


To help you plan your MBA application timeline, here is a sampling of 3 top MBA programs and their recently released 2019-2020 application deadlines and essay prompts:

Columbia Business School’s Full Time MBA Program

2019-2020 Rounds and Deadlines:                                       

-To start in Jan. 2020 OR Aug. 2020, apply by 10/4/19 (70% of full time MBA students start in -August and binding early decision is available for August entry only)

-Merit-based fellowship deadline, apply by 1/3/20

-Final regular decision deadline, apply by 4/10/20

2019-2020 Columbia MBA Essay Prompts:

Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters max)

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)

Essay 2: Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words) -NEW!

Essay 3: Who is a leader you admire, and why? (250 words) -NEW!

Optional Essay: Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (500 words max)

Harvard Business School’s Full Time MBA Program

(they’re sticking with just the 2 rounds as that was a new change for them last year!)

2019-2020 Rounds and Deadlines:   

-Round 1: App due 9/4/19                  You’ll hear by: 12/10/19

-Round 2: App due 1/6/19                  You’ll hear by: 3/31/20

-2+2 Program: App was due 4/9/19   They heard by 6/5/19

2019-2020 Harvard MBA Essay Prompts:

Main Essay: As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (no word limit)

For joint program applicants only (for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School): How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level? (400 words max)

UPenn Wharton’s Full Time MBA Program

2019-2020 Rounds and Deadlines:   

-Round 1: App due 9/17/19    You’ll hear by: 12/18/19

-Round 2: App due 1/7/20      You’ll hear by: 3/26/20

-Round 3: App due 4/1/20      You’ll hear by: 5/8/20

2019-2020 Wharton MBA Essay Prompts:

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words max)

Essay 2: Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words max)

Additional Essay (required for reapplicants): Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words max; first-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances.)


So . . . get thee to an MBA info session, campus tour, faculty symposium, academic conference, professional affiliation panel, etc. You might want to start with: the June 23rd Dartmouth Tuck Coffee Meet and Greet in Bellevue, Washington, or the June 25th event in NYC called “HBS in NYC: Harvard Graduate Programs Panel & Fair,” or the July 25th MBA Tour Grad Fair in DC, or the August 13th Harvard Women & the MBA Panel.”

Try to register for one now, and then reach out to us to help you take it from there!

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