For its application essays, Wharton doubles down and asks two questions that require you to present your knowledge of its program. In short, Wharton really wants to know that you want to be at the school. So, really do your homework before you start writing—talk to students and alumni and attend online or (if possible) in-person admissions events. Really dig in! Wharton wants to be sure you didn’t just look at a ranking when choosing a school or that it’s not your backup option if you don’t get into Harvard Business School or the Stanford GSB. Wharton wants to feel confident that you will accept a place in its next class. Be ready to prove it!
Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)
A strong essay response to this prompt will start by contextualizing your future goals. Although there is no room here for an extended autobiography, by revealing growth and development professionally or potentially through a particular interest, you can set the stage to reveal the leap you aspire to take in your career—one that will be dramatically accelerated via the Wharton MBA.
Your goals should be true to who you are; there is no Wharton-specific goal that the school is hoping for you to say. However, it is very important that the admissions committee really believes you need an MBA from Wharton specifically. The school’s question makes this a focal point. Here is where you need to share your research on the program—not as a data dump, but as a thoughtful discussion of how you will use the Wharton experience to grow. You might almost think of this as an opportunity to share your Wharton game plan. You can show the admissions committee that you are coming to campus on a clear educational mission (and remember that education can occur outside the classroom as well!) and that the school can count on you to execute both during and after your Wharton experience!
Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)
This essay is a challenge for many because it has two distinct parts—and if you divide them roughly equally, you have 200 words, or only a few sentences, for each! In the first, you need to share an anecdote or experience that is formative or that clearly helped define who you are or how you walk through life. The experience you describe should clearly illuminate specific values that you hold, and you should explain how you would apply these values for the better at Wharton. It isn’t enough for you to just say, “I will bring this characteristic with me to Wharton!” Instead, you need to show that you have a deep understanding of the applicability of this trait at Wharton (Where will your impact be felt? How will you contribute?). For example, will your trait come alive in planning or executing the Wharton Follies, in helping your clustermates with their job hunt, as a William P. Lauder Leadership Fellow, or all of the above? It doesn’t matter where it manifests; again, it just matters that you have a clear game plan and that you know how you will execute it!
Required Essay for all Reapplicants: Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)
This is an opportunity to explain how you have grown since you last applied. Ideally, you have improved on some aspect(s) of your profile—whether that is a higher test score, more work experience, a promotion, or something similar. Be sure to explain what it is about the school that motivates you to apply again. This can be a great way to show the specific and sincere reasons you value a Wharton MBA.
Optional Essay: Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.
This question only needs to be addressed if there are gaps in your employment or some specific situation where providing background or context would be helpful. Some other examples would be if your recommender is not your direct supervisor, or maybe your transcript is riddled with holes or bad grades. If you have any special extracurricular causes or work that you believe would further illustrate who you are, this would be a good place to share this aspect of your profile with the admissions committee. Whatever your topic, there is no need to make this essay any longer than it needs to be to explain your answer. Just briefly provide the necessary explanation or information without a lot of extraneous commentary.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into the Wharton School, you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings such as the the Field Application Project, the Venture Initiation Project, Wharton Follies, and the MBA Pub. This free guide also includes class profile statistics and our expert advice on answering the business school’s application essay questions. Download our brand-new guide to learn more about the Wharton School!