June 17, 2023

MBA Essay Guidance 2023-24: NYU Stern School of Business

NYU Stern School of Business has released its MBA application deadlines and essay questions for the 2023-24 application cycle.  Here are the important dates and Admitify’s guidance on the essays.


R1: Sep 6, 2023  /  R2: Jan 4, 2024  /  R3: Apr 2, 2024  /  Deferred Admissions: April 24, 2024



Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes. Your essays must be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be rescinded if you did not write your essays.


Short Answer: Professional Aspirations

What are your short-term career goals? (150 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)


Admitify Guidance

Given the tight word limit here, cut to the chase from the first sentence and state your short-term goals as concretely and specifically as you can. If that goal turns out not to be possible, what is your backup path?  State roles and even specific job titles; state organization types but also specific examples of those organizations. If you have space (you may not) to mention actual people who are doing what you want to do, then go for it, especially if they have Stern MBAs and/or you actually reached out to them to learn about their careers. Note that Stern is not asking for your long-term goals, no doubt because they realize you have no idea where you’ll be in 15 years. But if you see your short-term goal as primarily a stepping stone toward a long-term goal and/or if your long-term goal is interesting or compelling feel free to state your long-term goal in a single sentence. If you have space after doing all this you could also add a sentence explaining the motivation, mission or insight that drives this goal. 



Essay 1: Change: _________ it 

(350 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

In today’s global business environment, the only constant is change. Using NYU Stern’s brand call to action, we want to know how you view change. Change: _____ it. Fill in the blank with a word of your choice. Why does this word resonate with you? How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern? 


  • Change: Dare it.
  • Change: Dream it.
  • Change: Drive it.
  • Change: Empower it.
  • Change: Manifest it.
  • Change: [Any word of your choice] it.


Admitify Guidance

Change is good. Show Stern you get that. Don’t fret over the verb you choose; they aren’t grading you on your verbal ingenuity (but you may want to invest in Roget’s Thesaurus for this prompt :). They are grading you on your thoughtfulness around change, however. We see this as a two-part response. The first part (about 175 words) should focus on brief examples of you living the type of change that the change ‘word of your choice’ captures. (Again, it’s the examples [accomplishments] that matter here, not so much the ‘change word’ you choose.)  Assuming 175 words, depending on how long each of your examples is, you may have space for 2-4 discrete accomplishments showing you interacting positively with change. Aim to have change examples from different sides of your life. The second half of this essay is the forward-looking piece: ‘How will you embrace your own personal tagline while at Stern?’ Identify 3 of your most defining differentiators as an applicant and then find the Stern activities that align with them (if you are an African American fintech specialist who loves policy: Association of Hispanic & Black Business Students + Fintech Association + Stern Policy Forum). Then go one step further: suggest as specifically and creatively as possible how you will add value or innovate in this club/activity. This may require some exploration of the Stern activity, but admission to NYU is worth a bit of work, no?



Essay 2: Personal Expression (a.k.a. “Pick Six”)

Describe yourself to the Admissions Committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. Your uploaded PDF should contain all of the following elements:

  • A brief introduction or overview of your “Pick Six” (no more than 3 sentences).
  • Six images that help illustrate who you are.
  • A one-sentence caption for each of the six images that helps explain why they were selected and are significant to you.

Note: Your visuals may include photos, infographics, drawings, or any other images that best describe you. Your document must be uploaded as a single PDF. The essay cannot be sent in physical form or be linked to a website.


Admitify Guidance

The images you choose here matter more than the text, so choose carefully, but creatively. Look for the 6 images that capture you and your passions/life/dreams/personality as closely as possible. This is not the time to play it safe. Most people show images of family, friends, travel, school, career, and hobbies and doing that is perfectly fine. But don’t be afraid to think out of the box: the images don’t all have to show you; they don’t have to (probably shouldn’t) include posed, group shots or typical tourist photos (or God forbid baby photos), they don’t have to show people at all (they could show objects, places, people or ideas that matter most to you), and as Stern notes, they can be “infographics, drawings” (perhaps by you). You can use the sequence of the images to create a narrative (not necessarily chronological) or thematic statement. Your visual skill is not being evaluated here; your ability to shrewdly and authentically capture yourself and ‘make an impression’ very definitely is. The one-sentence caption should not be merely factually informative (‘My ex, Galveston, last July’) but should help the admissions reader understand what the key word/selection criterion was and why it matters to you (e.g., ‘I love my dog Buster’). The 3-sentence introduction or overview can be where you pull together the strands that the 6 images represent: do these 6 snapshots of your varied life share some non-obvious theme? Explore these connections in these 3 sentences. In other words, using this overview to write: ‘Who I am is best summed up by my love for family, friends, chocolate, good grades, and my firearm collection’ would constitute a major fail.  



Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

(250 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL, or any other relevant information.


Admitify Guidance

Stern gives you examples of the kinds of content you might include here: “current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment, IELTS or TOEFL.” These fall under the rubric of ‘extenuating circumstances’ – stuff you need to explain to keep Stern from drawing their own conclusions about some question mark in your profile. But Stern’s language (“any additional information,” “any other relevant information”) is quite broad, so if you have no extenuating circumstance to explain, by all means use this essay for anything of value that might impress the committee or show them another side of you. “Of value”: don’t write about your stamp collection, the chili contest you won when you were twelve, the marvelous PowerPoint you produced for your boss, or anything that is already discussed elsewhere in the application.


Check out our blog each week for more essay guidance.  Interested in applying for an MBA?  Now is the perfect time to schedule a free profile review and get started on your applications!