UNC Kenan-Flagler Application Essay Tips, 2023-2024
The biggest change at UNC Kenan-Flagler is the return of three-time alumna Mary Margaret Frank, who became the first female dean in Kenan-Flagler history in August 2023. The school’s prime offerings — including real-life learning, concentrations tailored to your professional goals, a career team behind you, a STEM-focused curriculum, an engaged MBA community, and a small class size with robust faculty resources — will help you amplify your career impact and prepare you to excel in a global business environment.
The school’s first essay question is unchanged from the past several years and asks you to outline your short-term professional goal, explain how a Kenan-Flagler MBA will help you, and offer a “backup” plan in the event that your initial goals prove unattainable for some reason. The second essay question is new this year and asks you to provide evidence of delivering results in either your professional or your personal environment. The optional essay is unchanged, allowing you to share something fun about yourself if you have room after addressing the usual optional essay topics related to employment gaps, academic or testing issues, and recommender choices.
Essay 1 is required. Your response should be no longer than 500 words and should address the following questions:
– What are your immediate career goals and how will you benefit from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School?
– As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore?
Before you jump in to present your immediate post-MBA career goal, consider sharing a brief story that provides some context for why your goal is important to you. There are only so many immediate career goals you can have — consulting, real estate, technology, finance. It is difficult to stand out when you state your goal without providing any context. Your goals will be so much more interesting and differentiated in the minds of the admissions team if you also offer a unique and meaningful story about why your chosen goal makes sense in relation to your aspirations and experience.
In addressing how you will benefit from a UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA, note any gaps you have that could prevent you from reaching your career goal and explain how specific classes, clubs, and resources at the school can help you fill in these gaps. Don’t overlook Kenan-Flagler’s robust institutes and centers when considering the offerings that might be of use to you. Every business school wants to know that students are excited to attend its MBA program in particular, and UNC Kenan-Flagler is of course no different. The school provides a user-friendly MBA Student Ambassador link that you can use to find a student with your intended concentration or industry goals. Have conversations with student ambassadors to understand how you can both gain from the program and give back to it. Taking the time to do this research is one of the best ways you can demonstrate your strong interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler.
In asking about your alternative goals, the admissions committee wants to know that you have done some career reflection to understand other ways of attaining your career objectives. The job market can be unpredictable, and Kenan-Flagler wants evidence that you have given some thought to other options, if needed. Your alternative goal should be related to your immediate goal, not a completely different career path.
Essay 2 is required. Your response should be no longer than 500 words and should address the following question:
Reflect on a project or initiative you were involved in that had a significant positive impact on a community, organization, or individual. How did this experience shape your sense of responsibility as a future leader dedicated to making a difference in the world?
While this is a new essay question for UNC Kenan-Flagler, the MBA program has always sought to admit students who make an impact. The program wants net givers — people who will move initiatives forward as opposed to passive students who would not add value. You have the opportunity to showcase either a professional or a community accomplishment. The most important aspect is that you provide some evidence of your ability to drive results, because these are qualities valued not just by Kenan-Flagler but also by employers. For the latter part of this question — regarding how the experience has shaped your responsibility as a leader — think about UNC Kenan-Flagler’s core values of integrity, inclusion, innovation, and impact. UNC Kenan-Flagler views these as concentric circles, with the foundation being integrity, then moving outward to think about how to create inclusive environments that foster innovation and ultimately drive impact. As you reflect on your leadership journey, consider how you have approached any of these core values.
Essay 3 is optional. We encourage you to tell us more about who you are so we can get to know you as a person and potential member of the Carolina community. Use this essay to convey information that you may not have otherwise been able to in the application. Your response should be no longer than 200 words.
– Personal or professional accomplishments
– Interests and passions
– Gaps in work experience or inconsistent academic performance
– Context for recommender selection
– A fun fact about yourself
Beyond addressing gaps in your work experience, explaining inconsistent academic performance, or providing context for your recommender selection, this essay gives you the opportunity to help the UNC Kenan-Flagler admissions team get to know you more fully. The wording of this question even invites you to share something “fun” that will give the school more insight into who you are. If you do not need to address any problematic topics, you might not need to use all 200 words.
Essay 4 is required only for previous applicants to any UNC MBA program format. Your response should be no longer than 100 words and should address the following prompt:
If you are re-applying to the program, we appreciate your continued interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler. We require a complete application in addition to a brief essay that describes how your application differs from your previous submission and that alerts us to new test scores, a recent promotion, or other areas that demonstrate how you have strengthened your candidacy.
If you are taking the time to reapply, refresh your essays! When I reviewed applications for UNC Kenan-Flagler, one of the first things I looked to see was whether there was new material in the essays compared to the previous year. Taking a fresh look at your application speaks volumes about your interest in the program. Enhance your resume to reflect an extra year of professional growth. Ideally, you have grown in your leadership outside of work as well. If your test scores were not a strength in your previous application, address how you have attempted to improve your skills or knowledge either through additional coursework or an improved score, or both. Your ability to highlight your most impressive improvements will signal self-awareness to the admissions team and help you make your case for admission.