Are you looking for an MBA diversity essay sample? You're in the right place. Whether your chosen MBA program specifically requests a diversity essay, or you've decided to write one to complement the rest of your application, it is always a good idea to review diversity essay examples to get a better idea of what your essay should look like and what it should include. You want to make sure that your diversity essay is adding something positive to your application, especially if you are applying to a competitive institution like Kellogg Business School, for example. This blog will cover everything you need to know about MBA diversity essays. We'll discuss how they differ from MBA personal statements, what qualifies as "diverse," and we'll show you an example that will help inspire your own essay.
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What exactly is an MBA diversity essay?
An MBA diversity essay is a short admissions essay that some business schools offer as part of their application process. It is meant to give the applicant a chance to provide more information about their social and personal background and tell the admissions committee how that diverse background can meaningfully contribute to the specific business program that they have applied to.
MBA diversity essays are usually optional secondary essays, but this is not always the case. Some schools, like the Wharton School of Business, do not ask for an MBA statement of purpose or diversity essay specifically but they provide prompts for the admission essays that candidates need to answer. The prompts in question are what will tell you what kind of essay you need to be writing. For example, one of the admission essays for the Wharton full-time MBA program is this:
"Considering your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words). "
This question essentially asks you to reflect on your background and discuss how your unique experiences and perspective will allow you to contribute to the school's community. In many ways, this is a diversity essay prompt.
It is important to understand that the term "diversity" does not necessarily, or exclusively refer to those of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic minorities. Too often, students assume that if they are not a visible minority or do not fall into one of the broader categories that people typically associate with the term diversity, they shouldn't write an MBA diversity essay.
This is a false assumption that is based on a lack of understanding. To get a better idea of what the MBA diversity essay is supposed to do, think of it as an opportunity to explain how your unique interactions with the people and societal structures around you have shaped you and your perspective. Then, consider how this unique perspective can contribute to the diversity of your chosen school or program.
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By thinking about it that way, you may realize that there are so many other identities and designators that are also distinguishing features that you can discuss in your MBA diversity essay. If you are a member of a traditionally underrepresented or marginalized group of people, you can certainly choose to discuss that, but it is not the only option.
Here are a few categories of identity and experience that you can discuss in your essay if they apply to you:
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a better idea of the different types of topics that you can cover in your MBA diversity essay. If you have experiences with the intersectionality of two or more topics, then you can write about that too. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that your experience does not need to be negative to be discussed in your essay. Applicants often assume that diversity and adversity need to go hand in hand in order to be valued, but that is also a false assumption. Simply reflect on your experience and tell your story the way it is.
Diversity essay vs personal statement
Your MBA diversity essay is a personal admissions essay, so it can seem very similar to a personal statement. Depending on the school you are applying to, it is even possible for candidates to discuss specific aspects of their identity or background in their personal statements. For example, one of the Harvard MBA personal statement prompts asks students the following:
"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?".
Many candidates can use this to discuss how their unique background has shaped their point of view and prepared them for the MBA program they are applying to. However, there are some key differences between the two essays.
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First, personal statements are a more comprehensive essay that is usually between 650 to 850 words, whereas diversity essays are rarely longer than 500 words. The former is also supposed to discuss your personal story as it relates to the MBA program you are applying for. Usually, that includes your academic and professional experiences, your goals, and your reasons for pursuing an MBA. On the other hand, your diversity essay should focus on your past and the experiences that have brought you to this moment.
Is an MBA diversity essay important?
Applicants often overlook this particular admission essay, but it can have a significantly positive impact on your MBA application. More than ever, business schools care about having a diverse body of students and different perspectives in the classroom. Harvard Business School, which is perhaps the world's most famous Ivy League School, has talked openly about the importance of having people from different walks of life in their community. On their website, the school states that student diversity enhances learning and can present both challenges and opportunities for discussion leadership.
It is important to remember that this applies to both visible and invisible identities and some of the broader categories of identities that we discussed earlier. For many applicants who fall into one of these latter categories, the school has no way of knowing about the diverse perspective that you can contribute to their MBA program unless you tell them. The MBA diversity essay gives you a chance to do just that.
Furthermore, for applicants who fall in the former category, like visible minorities, for example, the diversity essay gives you a chance to contextualize your background and provide additional information that will improve your MBA candidacy.
Tips for writing a compelling MBA diversity essay
Now that you know what an MBA diversity essay is and what it is supposed to communicate let's go over a few tips to help you write one that will add value to your MBA application.
MBA diversity essay example
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story." - Chimamanda Adichie.
When I was two years old, my father accepted a position as a maths professor at a university in [city], and we moved from Ghana to Canada. We lived in a community full of immigrants from all over the world for a long time, but when I was thirteen, we moved from [place] to the suburbs of [city].
It seemed like we had moved to a completely different country. I experienced culture shock going from a school where almost every student looked like me to a place where I was considered "exotic." Also, it took me months to become acclimated to the food. My father and I no longer had easy access to the international grocery store where we got the chilies and dried shrimp that we used to cook our favorite foods. What I remember the most was struggling to bond with my classmates because they seemed to focus on the ways in which I was different from them, and that was all they wanted to talk about. It took me a long time to make friends and find my footing, but eventually, I was able to do it.
My experiences growing up have taught me the importance of representation. Over the years, several stereotypes have followed me. There were several occasions when my classmates assumed that I was on a scholarship in college, or they made jokes about affirmative action. Even some of my professors would ask me if I had run to Canada because of a war in Congo, and I had to explain that I was raised in Canada and that my parents were from Ghana, a completely different African nation.
I do not think any of these people meant me any harm, but rather, they are a product of their environment. What we see has an impact on us, and the way Africans have been represented in the media for a long time is not only monolithic, but it leaves a lot to be desired.
That is why I always remember that quote by Ms. Adichie, and over the years, as an advertising executive, I have been striving to learn about and from those who are different from me so that I can share their stories. Seeing a small part of your culture or someone who looks like you in an ad can make you feel like you belong, and it helps us get rid of this "dangerous single story."
I look forward to learning even better ways of doing this and sharing this perspective with other marketing and business professionals. ( 458 words)
1. What is an MBA diversity essay?
It is a short, usually optional, admission essay that discusses an applicant's diverse background and how their unique perspective and experience can contribute to the MBA program they've applied to.
2. Should I write an MBA diversity essay?
This question is difficult to answer without any context, but here is what we suggest: Ask yourself if there are any particular aspects of your identity that have made your path to business school especially unique or maybe challenging. If yes, will those particularities contribute something notable or positive to your performance and experience in the MBA program? If the answer is yes, then you should write a diversity statement. If you’re unsure where to start or need assistance, you can reach out to an MBA consultant for help. Make sure you verify that your chosen school gives you the option of submitting one before writing and sending one with your application.
3. How long should my MBA diversity essay be?
It is quite a short essay. Usually, an MBA diversity statement is 350-500 words, but this varies significantly from one school to another, so always verify the instructions provided by your chosen school.
4. I identify as part of a minority group; does that mean I have to write an MBA diversity essay?
Most of the time, MBA diversity essays are optional essays, meaning that you do not have to write one. However, some schools will have a prompt for the admission essay that essentially asks you to talk about your diverse background. It's important to remember that diversity refers to more than just being a visible minority or belonging to a minority group. You do not have to talk about any aspects of your identity that you are uncomfortable discussing.
5. I do not identify as part of a minority group; can I still write an MBA diversity essay?
6. What aspects of my diversity can I discuss in my essay?
You can write about any elements of your identity or experiences that have given you a unique perspective. That includes but is not limited to your race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, experiences, family life, and even uncommon relationships.
7. What's the difference between a diversity essay and a personal statement?
A personal statement is a relatively long, more comprehensive essay about your motivations for pursuing an MBA program. In contrast, a diversity statement is a much shorter statement answering a more specific question about your identity.
8. My school website doesn't mention MBA diversity essays. What do I do?
Some business schools will not outrightly ask for a diversity essay, but they may include an essay prompt that asks you how your unique background will contribute to their program. Others simply won't mention the option of submitting one. If you feel that your application would benefit from an MBA diversity essay, feel free to reach out to the school and ask if it would be okay to send one in.
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