“Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay is one of the most common supplemental or optional essays. Whether you are looking to apply to Harvard Business School or the Kellogg Business School, you will need to prepare to answer this question via essay or an MBA interview question.

Some schools may indeed state that the essay is optional, but any serious candidate would be well-advised to write it.

In this post, we will help you write the “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay and increase your chances of landing that seat in the coveted program.

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Article Contents
9 min read

Why business schools ask for the “Why do you want to pursue MBA?” essay Before you start writing What to include in a “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay “Do’s and Don’ts” “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay example Conclusion FAQs

“Why Do You Want to Pursue an MBA?” Essay: Why Business Schools Ask For It

At this point, you’re probably wondering why business schools even bother with such an essay. Well, there are many reasons, including:

#1 How an MBA will help your career goals

Universities don’t want to waste their time and resources on candidates who can’t fully commit to their studies. They need to select candidates who will graduate and pursue careers that will become a testimony to their alma mater.

Your essay will show them how much mettle and commitment you, the applicant, have. You can use this essay to show what getting an MBA will do for your career. It allows you to tell the admissions committee about why you’re going after an MBA – What are your motivations? What are your goals?

They can gauge your academic achievements by looking at your transcripts and GRE scores, for example. But, with this essay, you get a chance to reveal what drives you forward and what an MBA can help you with.

#2 Insight into personal character

Personal character is an important indicator of what the candidate is “made” of. The essay gives them an insight into your eligibility as a well-rounded and reliable individual.

They are looking for characteristics that make a candidate a dependable, even honorable, individual that can be relied upon to make smart decisions both in life and in their career.

Most importantly, it offers a chance for you to show the admissions officers what it is that makes you stand out from other candidates who have similar or better academic achievements and extracurricular activities.

This essay is another chance for you to stand out and remind the admissions committee of your unique skills and experiences.

#3 Shows how much the candidate wants the spot

More importantly, the admissions officers will be able to see how much you want to join the MBA program. A good “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay conveys an applicant’s eagerness, passion, and even future dedication to a career in the business field.

Use this essay to show the admissions committee that you really want this spot in their MBA program. Let them know that you are a perfect fit for the program and that the program is a perfect fit for you in turn. Show them you can contribute to it too.

The best way to do this is by showing them that you have done your research and your homework by finding out all you can about the school and how you will take an active part in contributing to as many academic and social activities they have.

Do you also need to submit an MBA statement of purpose? Check out our tips:

Before You Start Writing Your MBA Essay

There are some points to consider before you start writing. To begin with, don’t veer off-topic – the essay needs to lie within the school’s word-length requirements. For example, Harvard Business School has set its application essay length at 400, Yale asks for three required essays of 300 words or less, while Kellogg School of Business asks for two essays of 450 words each. This means that every word needs to contribute towards answering the question “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” and nothing more.

Before you even start brainstorming, you need to do some research:

#1 School history

Do thorough research on the school. Find out as much as you can about its history, alumni, awards, commendations, and recognition it may have earned.

Are there any courses and classes the business school is known for and that you are interested in? Are there any faculty members lecturing at the school with whom you would like to work?

Are there any famous internship programs that can help you with achieving your career goals? Do they have a curriculum you know will teach you about a specific niche of business?

You can openly express your interest in these aspects of your future education in your essay. Showing that there is something specific that interests you in your chosen program demonstrates that you have made a careful and calculated decision. For example, you can say that a lecturer at this school is a role model with whom you would like to study. Or you can express that a specific course curriculum interests you because it is directly tied to your future career goals.

#2 Alumni

If you know someone who has graduated from your chosen MBA program, reach out to them! Send them an email or try to meet in person to ask any questions you may have. Alumni can be a great insight into the inner workings of a program. They can indicate what qualities you may want to showcase in your application and interview. Having someone on the inside is a great advantage!

#3 Extracurricular activities

University life doesn’t only involve life in the classroom. There are various on-campus activities for students to partake in. If your essay shows that you will contribute to life outside of the classroom, this may be your chance to stand out.

Business schools offer a wide range of sports, clubs, musical ensembles, theater groups, and student organizations. They always strive to enroll students with diverse interests so that they can effectively contribute to their collegial community.

What to Include in a “Why Do You Want to Pursue an MBA?” Essay

Let us move on and delve into what makes up a “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay. We will have a look at important components that help create a well-rounded essay.

Some suggestions include:

#1 Achievements

Your essay should demonstrate to the admissions officers the different accomplishments you have achieved in your education, profession, and other aspects of your life.

Proof of accomplishments can include academic awards, professional recognitions, or contests that you have entered and placed in, such as essay contests, art competitions or science fair competitions, work diplomas or awards.

#2 Strengths

Your essay must demonstrate, via examples, that you can indeed be “creative”, “mature” or “skilled.” The key is to show, rather than tell the admissions committee what relevant strengths you possess that make you the perfect candidate for an MBA program. Make sure to include details and demonstrate, with examples, what makes you the right fit for your chosen MBA program and the business world in general.

#3 International experience

If you are an MBA candidate looking to pursue a career in international business, you might want to emphasize what steps you took to prepare yourself for this path so far.

You can use the “Why do you want to pursue an MBA” essay to demonstrate your exposure to a wider world beyond your country’s borders. Whether it’s an educational or a professional experience, you can include it in this essay to show that you are serious about a global career.

Additionally, your experience abroad will demonstrate that you can get along with, learn from, and grow with peers from various countries.

#4 Extracurricular activities

A healthy individual will have a well-rounded life outside of the office. Your essay can demonstrate that you have hobbies and commit to non-work-related activities. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your extracurriculars are not interesting to the admissions committee! These may be precisely the details that make you stand out from the crowd. So, if you love dancing or tutoring children in math or science, you can feel free to incorporate this in your essay!

#5 Goals – short-term and long-term

Admissions officers want to know what the candidate is aiming for. They need to have a clear picture – even if you don’t exactly have one yet – that you are at least aiming for a few milestones in your career. Remember, you do not have to be specific. However, you can mention what aspect of the business world you want to grow in.

You can be as specific as you want to be about your goals post-MBA.

Do’s and Don’ts of the "Why Do You Want to Pursue an MBA?" Essay

Ok, we have come this far and the “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay is almost complete. But, we also need to see what to do and not do in the essay.

Let’s have a look:



“Why Do You Want to Pursue an MBA?” Essay Example

Now, let’s have a look at a sample “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay:

As a child, I was interested in how businesses were run. The idea of owning and growing a small business into an international conglomerate thrilled me. It is this passion that led me to want to join this esteemed institution.

My journey to pursue an MBA started during my first year in college, when I joined one of the largest banks in Canada as a Cash Counter Clerk.

Immediately, I loved that the work was demanding and required extra hours and even coming in on weekends. I learned and thrived in this environment. My communication and organizational skills that I applied in my role soon made me a reliable colleague. I managed to become Employee of the Month three times in a row without it affecting my college work. As a matter of fact, the experience at the bank helped me with creating a schedule for managing my time in college. I received several promotions at the bank while I was at college, and after graduation was also immediately offered a Supervisor position at the bank.

In my new role, I continued to develop my leadership abilities, which culminated in the $1billion move of our Finance and Auditing business from Memphis to Toronto – right in the middle of a financial system meltdown.

As a Supervisor, I used feedback from my team to make effective changes in my style of management. I allowed workers who wanted to work from home to do so as long as the deliverables and deadlines were met. This cut down on overhead in the office while also creating more relaxed, happier, and more efficient team members. My versatility and self-awareness resulted in a positive response from my team members, which was reflected in their attitudes and the quality of their work. They started putting in more hours and were more creative with their contributions. We cut costs but increased productivity.

Having worked as a Supervisor for over 4 years now, I have made the decision to pursue an MBA program to further develop my leadership and management skills. I have found that your MBA program, with its faculty and curriculum, is the exact tool I need to achieve my career goals. I hope to graduate and join the ranks of alumni like [INSERT NAME] who, after graduating from your business school went on to create ACME Intl. – one of the leaders in the business finance field. I am sure that with Professor [INSERT NAME], who teaches Leadership, Teamwork, Management, and Organizational Behavior, I will be able to build upon my experiences and take a step closer to making my dreams come true.

Want to see more MBA essay examples from top business schools?

Want to learn the secret to any admissions essay?


Writing the “why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay might understandably seem like a daunting task – after all, it is only your future career that is hanging in the balance. But, the trick to use is to imagine oneself telling a story and then trying to capture that story in writing. It is all about conveying the story intact.

Make sure to give yourself at least 6 weeks to draft and redraft your essay. Consider reaching out to an MBA essay consultant to help you. These professionals can help you brainstorm, edit, and finalize an essay that will perfectly reflect your strengths and suitability.


1. How should I format my “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” essay?

The rule of thumb is to avoid using fancy fonts. The best options are Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in 12-point type. Also avoid using bold, italics or emojis.

2. How should I structure and format my essay?

Always check the university’s guidelines first. If there are none, make sure to structure your essay as an academic essay, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Additionally, make sure that your essay includes A 1” margin on all sides with 1.5 or double line spacing and left alignment with no justification.

3. How do I make sure my essay “flows”?

Use transitional sentences to connect paragraphs. As you read your essay, it should flow from one paragraph to the next.

4. How long should my essay be?

Always check the university’s guidelines for specific length requirements. DO NOT write more than the word limit. If there are no guidelines, stick to 400 words or so. . Remember, it’s always best to write a concise essay, so writing less than the word limit is a good strategy.

5. How personal can I get in my essay?

The best way to gauge if a story belongs in your essay is to imagine telling it to someone you just met a few minutes ago. How would they react? That’s probably exactly how the admissions officer reading it would react too.

6. Should I mention failures in my essay or should it all be about achievements and successes?

If there is a teachable moment you have experienced or a lesson was learned while trying to right a wrong, then you should, by all means, include them to show that you can learn from your mistakes.

7. How much information should I include about my educational background?

Only as much as necessary. Remember, you are submitting your essay alongside other educational documents. The admissions committee will have access to them. You, therefore, don’t need to dwell on it unless it helps with your essay – “I passed with distinction…” or “I graduated top of my class…” should be enough information.

8. What should my editing process be?

A good way to edit your essay fully would be to spellcheck, use third-party apps to have a second run through it, read it aloud, and finally have someone else read it. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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