June 5, 2024

MBA Essay Guidance 2024-25: Yale School of Management


Yale School of Management has released its MBA application deadlines and essay questions for the 2024-25 application cycle.  Here are the important dates and Admitify’s guidance on the essays:


R1: Sep 10, 2024  /  R2: Jan 7, 2025  /  R3: Apr 8, 2025  


Yale SOM

Please respond to one (1) of the three essay prompts below. The word limit (though not necessarily the goal!) is 500 words:

Prompt 1: Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. Why is this commitment meaningful to you and what actions have you taken to support it? 


Here are Yale’s notes for the first half of this prompt in 2022: “We developed this question in collaboration with Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM. Your time in business school, and the choices you make thereafter, represent significant commitments. In asking this question, the Admissions Committee is seeking to learn about how you have approached a commitment of importance in your life.


When it comes to choosing a topic, be genuine. We want to hear about something that is meaningful and distinctive to you in your own voice. Your commitment can be personal, specific or expansive. We receive outstanding, insightful essays covering a wide range of topics.


The content of your essay is every bit as important as the topic. Regardless of the commitment that you choose, the most effective essays do a great job of describing your approach to commitment. Point to the specific actions that you have taken over time to bolster your commitment. This is especially important if you have chosen a broad topic, such as an ideal or a belief. Don’t just explain why a commitment is important to you; we want to understand how your behaviors have demonstrated and supported your commitment.


“The first thing that may come to mind about our essay question is, ‘Why is it phrased so broadly?’ That’s intentional. We don’t want candidates to think that we are trying to steer them towards a particular kind of commitment, either in nature or scope. The question is meant to elicit self-reflection and result in you describing a commitment that is truly meaningful to you.”

—Maria Derlipanska, Senior Associate Director of Admissions


Admitify Guidance 

  • In its guidance, Yale asks you to “point to the specific actions that you have taken”: that means they want you to demonstrate — to illustrate with examples — the behaviors that support your commitment.
  • Your response should clearly state the commitment you’ve selected
    • Why did you select this particular commitment — was there a problem or a challenge you were responding to?
    • How did you approach it? What obstacles stood in your way (a commitment that the reader perceives as easy to live up to will seem less impressive)
    • What were/are the specific behaviors — that is, examples of you ‘in action’ — that supported/continue to support it? What did you think, say and/or do in living up to your commitment?
    • What did you learn from that?
  • Don’t try and select a commitment that you think ‘fits’ Yale — this is the time to be authentic, so choose something that was/is deeply important to you, as evidenced by some sustained involvement or excellence or challenge in your life.
  • You only have 500 words so be concise. 


Yale SOM

Prompt 2: Describe the community that has been most meaningful to you. What is the most valuable thing you have gained from being a part of this community and what is the most important thing you have contributed to this community?


Admitify Guidance

  • Choose a specific community  that really does matter to you in your life or has had a profound impact on you. It could be a cultural community, a professional network, a volunteer group, an academic club, or any other community you belong to. Ensure that you have a genuine connection to the community and can discuss it passionately. A community that matters to you is likely to be one you have engaged with over a long period of time and that connects to some core identity.
  • Begin your essay by explaining how you became a part of this community and what drew you to it. Describe the community’s goals, values, and activities. Why do these matter to you?
  • Use specific examples (vivid personal anecdotes and specific instances) to show how belonging to this community has helped you be yourself or  grow. When have you had to defend or stand up for this community? When has your membership in this community been tested? Have you ever considered leaving it? What made you stay? Literally and concretely state the most important “thing” (skill, relationship, value, knowledge) this community has given you.  Literally and concretely state your single greatest contribution to this community. This could include leadership roles, initiatives you’ve undertaken, or efforts to support and uplift others in the community. Don’t exaggerate or fabricate; keep it real and credible.
  • Tie your experiences in this meaningful community to your future goals if your goals have been shaped by this community. 


Yale SOM

Prompt 3: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced. How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person?


Admitify Guidance

This prompt gives you an opportunity to showcase your resilience, problem-solving abilities, and personal growth:

  • Select a challenge that had a significant impact on your life and brought about meaningful change. It could be a personal, professional, or interpersonal challenge, ideally something unique and profound. Avoid discussing trivial or common challenges; avoid an academic challenge unless it was distinctive, involved working with a group, and/or led to a distinguished or selective outcome or honor. Focus on something unique and profound.
  • The challenge should be explicitly and concisely stated. Discuss how the challenge affected you emotionally, mentally, or even physically. Be candid about your initial reaction to the challenge and how you coped with it.
  • But the bulk of the essay should center on describing how you confronted and overcame the challenge. Demonstrate how you took control of the situation and worked towards a resolution. What strategies did you employ, what support did you seek, what behaviours helped you overcome the challenge successfully?
  • What lessons did you learn from tackling this challenge? insights about yourself, newfound skills, changed perspectives, or a deeper understanding of others. Emphasize how the experience has shaped your values and decision-making. If relevant, talk about how your experience also affected others around you — family members, friends, colleagues, or teammates. Demonstrating empathy and compassion in challenging situations can be powerful. As with the other prompts, briefly state how this experience helped shape your post-MBA goals, if it did.


Now is the perfect time to start on your Yale SOM MBA applications!  Contact us today and we’ll guide you through the application process.