Ucla Essay Questions Mba

This blog post is part of our "Application Insider" blog post series that provides insider information, tips, and advice about applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program.




In 2017, we made some changes to our Essay section for new applicants. As a reminder, these are the essay requirements for the 2017-18 application cycle:


 - Essay Question: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words max)

 - Short Answer Question: Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words max)


Reapplicants are those who submitted a completed MBA application within the previous two years (those who applied for the MBA program starting in 2016 or 2017). If you applied three years or more prior, then please answer the "New Applicant" questions. 

- Reapplicant Essay Question: Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)


As in previous years, we also have an optional question for those who need some additional space to explain extenuating circumstances that are not evident in the application. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the optional question. The optional question can be answered by either new applicants or reapplicants.

 - Optional Question: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

You may be thinking...What is the best way to approach answering the essay and short answer question?

The essay and short answer are designed to allow you to share different aspects of your profile and background with us.

The essay is more professionally focused so here are some tips:

  • The skills you gained and the qualities you've learned about yourself in your past career experiences will often influence your future professional goals; so take the time to self-reflect on what you liked and didn't like in your past job(s) to help understand where you see yourself in the future. It's important that we understand how your past experiences and transferable skills fit into your future goals. 
  • With this better understanding of your past, you can start by thinking about your long-term goals and work backwards to short-term goals, and then work backwards even further to what you would do at UCLA Anderson to achieve those goals.

For the short answer question, you might think about your areas of interest beyond work, past organizations and/or groups you have been involved in and see if you can continue and share those interests in the UCLA Anderson community, or perhaps explore new areas you'd like to get involved in as a part of your MBA journey. You can connect with our students and check out our Club Webpages to explore how our student club leaders can make an impact on campus. We pride ourselves on our student-led culture and the Admissions Committee looks for qualities of student contribution potential in applicants. 

What if my career plans change once I start school? 

The Admissions Committee understands that our MBA program may expose you to other professional opportunities that, in turn, may change your goals. But for the purpose of the essay, we need to know that you can set a goal, research the paths to get there and develop a well-articulated plan on how you will leverage and grow your skills with an MBA from UCLA Anderson to help you get there.

When should I use the optional essay? Is it really optional?

For those of you that may have additional situations to address (for example, an unexplained leave of absence from work or context to the reason for a less-than-stellar course grade in college), you might consider using the optional essay to address those situations. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. The essay is truly optional and should only be used to explain situations not evident on the application, not act as an extension to the main application essay. 

How do I know my essay is ready to submit?

Once you are satisfied with a draft, it is advisable to have at least two people read and review it. You may also choose to share the essay prompt with them or not to see if they can guess the topic solely from your response. Here are our recommendations on who you should ask: 

  1. A person who knows you very well and can quickly conclude if the essay faithfully represents you, your values and your goals. 
  2. A person who may not know you as well. This person should be able to give you an objective perspective on how the essay may come across to the admissions committee, who are unlikely to have met you before. Are your goals clear and concise? Can they tell how excited you are about UCLA Anderson? Is it evident that you've done the work to get to know the school?

By getting insights from people with varying levels of knowledge about you, you should be able to refine your essay(s) further. After another review for clarity & conciseness, typos, grammar, etc., you'll be ready to press submit!


Check back for more "Application Insider" blog posts that will cover information and tips on the many aspects of applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program!



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Questions? Contact us at: mba.admissions@anderson.ucla.edu

UCLA Anderson School of Management is located in a desirable location in Los Angeles with alumni highly represented in the region. While entertainment and real estate are still dominant industries in Los Angeles, technology and entrepreneurship have become more and more important to the region. Anderson’s faculty, alumni and students are thought leaders in business and promoting collaboration and innovation.

We have helped countless applicants achieve their UCLA Anderson dreams. Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you.


Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words maximum)

As you evaluate your career goals, consider your career thus far and how you would like to develop it. When you think about any long-term goals you have for your career, why is an MBA the right next step? And why would Anderson be the right place to gain the education and network you need? Your career goals should be examined through the filter of Anderson’s values and how you plan to use those values in your post-Anderson life.

When structuring this essay consider telling one or two pivotal stories to illuminate who you are. UCLA is looking to understand how you are different from other applicants and how you have determined your goals. Consider the turning points or moments that triggered reflection for you.

Have you experienced a significant personal setback? What is your family background? Have you lived outside your home country? When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? What moments have called upon your need to collaborate, lead or innovate?

When describing your career goals, briefly explain what you plan to do immediately after graduation, and then what you want to accomplish over the long-term with your career. A career path that focuses on demonstrated passions and interests throughout your life is going to be most compelling as you write this essay and each section should bridge seamlessly into the next.

Short-answer question:Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words maximum)

Last year the Admissions Committee provided an excellent guide to approach the essays. The blog talks about what UCLA looks for in candidates: “At UCLA Anderson, we are a community defined by three core qualities — we share success, think fearlessly and drive change — so the Admissions Committee is looking for these same qualities in prospective applicants.”

To learn how you fit into Anderson, the school recommends connecting with current students and visiting campus. UCLA suggests citing specific classes, professors and programs in this essay. On your personal engagement with Anderson, it will be helpful to include the social and extracurricular aspects that attract you to the close-knit experience. Be specific as you discuss the clubs and conferences that are unique to the UCLA MBA. The other important component to this question is to address how you will contribute to the community. What skills and perspective will you bring to share with your class? Do you see clubs or activities on campus that you can impact in a positive way? Having specific ideas based on your school research will be invaluable to answer this question.

The following question is optional and can be submitted by either first time applicants or reapplicants. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the optional question.
Optional Question: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words maximum)

Note that Anderson specifically asks you not to write this essay unless you need it. Do not use it as a place to continue making the case from the required essay. If you do need to use this essay to explain gaps in work experience, a low grade, or lack of a current recommender, focus on explanations rather than excuses.

Clearly explain the situation, and if it is a situation from the past, explain why you have changed. Providing evidence that you will not repeat the actions in question will help to solidify your answer.

Applicants who applied for the MBA program in the previous two years. Reapplicant essay: Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

If you are a recent re-applicant to Anderson this essay gives you the opportunity to highlight improvements since your last application. This essay focuses on updates to your career progress and any updates to your career goals since your last application, but you have room to add other “ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy.” If you have an improved GMAT score, academic updates or extracurricular activities since your last application it would be useful to update the admissions committee.

What if you didn’t start a new job, earn a promotion, or advance in a linear way along your career path since your last application? If your resume remains basically the same, consider any new projects or accomplishments at work you can highlight. Demonstrating significant thought about your career path and increased introspection can also be progress, so updating your career goals thoughtfully is equally important to this application.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, UCLA Anderson Advice and tagged Anderson MBA, application advice, essay advice, Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips, mba essay tips, MBA Essays, UCLA Anderson School of Management, UCLA MBA.
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