MBA Personal Statement Examples: Secrets to Standing Out -

Philippe Barr, PhD
10 min readSep 6, 2023

The pressure to write a perfect MBA personal statement can be overwhelming. After all, your essay is a key factor in your admission to a top-tier business school. With so much at stake, it’s important to know what makes a good essay and how to stand out from the crowd. One effective way to get started is by reading some MBA personal statement examples. These examples can give you a sense of what works and what doesn’t, as well as inspire you to find your unique voice. In this blog post, we’ll share some of the best MBA personal statement examples we’ve come across, and break down what makes them successful.

Tell a story

In the first of our MBA personal statement examples, we want to highlight a personal statement from an applicant to Harvard Business School. The essay tells the story of how the applicant’s upbringing in a small town in the Deep South shaped their perspective and goals for pursuing an MBA.

“I was born and raised in a small town in the Deep South, a place where the concept of business was synonymous with local mom-and-pop stores. I grew up observing the struggles and triumphs of these local business owners and realized the profound impact they had on our community. Their resilience in the face of adversity deeply resonated with me and sparked my curiosity about the world of business. I am not a product of privilege or wealth. My childhood was marked by financial hardship, but it was through these challenges that I learned the value of resourcefulness and the importance of community. These experiences have shaped my perspective and solidified my desire to pursue an MBA.

My goal in attending Harvard Business School is not only to acquire a globally recognized business education but to bring a unique perspective to the classroom, one shaped by humble beginnings and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by small businesses.”

What makes this essay stand out is the way the applicant weaves their personal story into a larger narrative about the need for greater diversity in the business world. The essay is well-written, vulnerable, and engaging, while also showcasing the applicant’s strengths and motivations.

Emphasize your career goals

Business schools want to see that you have clear, well-thought-out career goals that align with their program and have the potential to make an impact in the industry. Be specific about the industry, role, and impact you want to make after completing your MBA degree. For example, “After completing my MBA at ABC School of Business, my goal is to launch a start-up that provides sustainable solutions to the fast-evolving tech industry.”

Show your passion

“I’ve always been interested in healthcare, and when I graduated from college, I worked as a nurse for three years. I loved the work, but I could see that there was a tremendous amount of administrative waste in healthcare, which increased costs and reduced quality of care. I left my nursing position to work for a healthcare startup that developed technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs. My time there showed me the value of both business and healthcare, and that’s why I’m applying to MBA programs with a focus on healthcare administration.”

This personal statement does a great job of showing a changemaker who is passionate about their work and has a growth mindset. It also highlights how the writer’s experience in healthcare informs their interest in business administration. Try to incorporate your passions into your personal statement and how those passions connect to your plans.

Demonstrate your unique perspective

The next essay from our collection of MBA personal statement examples is from an applicant to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The essay focuses on the applicant’s experience working in a family-owned business in India, and how that has informed their goals for pursuing an MBA.

“Growing up, I was deeply involved in my family’s textile business in India. The sights and sounds of the bustling enterprise; the delicate dance between artisans, managers, and my family members; and the negotiations, compromises, and shared victories all shaped my early understanding of business. This formative experience instilled within me a deep appreciation for the intricate tapestry of business operations and the entrepreneurial spirit. (…) I realize that to take my family’s business to even greater heights and compete in the global market, I need a deeper understanding of international business practices, strategies, and ethics. This realization draws me towards pursuing an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.”

What makes this essay stand out is the way the applicant showcases their unique perspective on the business world, and how their experiences have given them a deep understanding of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. The essay is also well-structured and concise, with a clear focus on the applicant’s goals.

Highlight your achievements

This MBA personal statement example is from an applicant to the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The essay highlights the applicant’s impressive track record in finance, including experience working at a top investment bank.

“During my tenure at XYZ Investment Bank, I was fortunate enough to manage several high-profile deals. I led the team that secured a major contract with a well-known tech company, and my strategic insights resulted in a 20% higher-than-expected return on investment. This accomplishment, alongside my other achievements in the finance sector, has solidified my desire to further elevate my understanding of financial strategy and market dynamics. I am convinced that an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business will equip me with the indispensable knowledge and skills to achieve my career objectives in finance strategy and leadership.”

This essay successfully demonstrates the applicant’s professional accomplishments while highlighting their ambition for continued growth. The lucid link between their past achievements and future goals makes a compelling case for their candidature.

What makes this essay effective is the way the applicant uses their experience to demonstrate their skills and abilities. The essay is well-written, with a strong focus on the applicant’s achievements and growth.

Be specific

Admissions committees want to see that you have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with an MBA. Instead of making generic statements about wanting to “gain new skills” or “further your career,” give specific examples of the types of roles or industries you hope to work in after graduation. This demonstrates that you’ve thought carefully about your goals and how an MBA will help you achieve them.

“I grew up in a small farming community outside of Seattle and was the first in my family to attend college. While in school, I landed a job with a non-profit that provided financial services to underprivileged communities. I quickly realized that the skills I learned in school — management, finance, and information systems — could be used to make a significant impact in the world and I decided to pursue an MBA. I want to use my education to help others achieve financial stability and provide opportunities to communities that have been historically marginalized.”

This personal statement is great because it highlights one’s unique background and how that experience led to the desire to pursue an MBA. Additionally, it showcases how the writer plans to use their education to make a meaningful social impact. When crafting your own statement, consider outlining your background and how that has influenced your values and goals.

Showcase your qualities and skills

The admissions committee is looking for candidates who will bring something unique and valuable to their program. Take time to reflect on your personal experiences, skills, and perspectives that set you apart from other applicants. Whether it’s your international experiences, leadership skills, or creative problem-solving abilities, find ways to showcase how these qualities would contribute to the program.

“Throughout my career as a marketing executive, I’ve learned the value of effective leadership in achieving organizational goals. My work has involved leading cross-functional teams, conducting market research, and developing strategic plans to enhance brand awareness and revenue. However, I’ve also realized that I have a lot more to learn to become an exceptional leader. An MBA program will expose me to new perspectives and challenge me to develop skills in entrepreneurship, innovation, and social responsibility. I’m confident that the business school’s diverse student body and renowned faculty will provide a valuable network and mentorship opportunities.”

This personal statement highlights the candidate’s strengths in leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving. The language used is professional and well-structured.

Use creativity to showcase your personality

This MBA personal statement example is from an applicant to the MIT Sloan School of Management. The essay showcases the applicant’s creativity and personality, including a clever use of a time-travel metaphor to illustrate their career goals.

“Just as time travel allows us to explore different eras and dimensions, I believe that business leaders must possess the ability to navigate through time, staying ahead of trends and anticipating future challenges. With this mindset, I aspire to be a trailblazer in the world of business, leveraging my creativity and strategic thinking to drive innovation and shape the future.”

What makes this essay successful is the way the applicant takes a risk and shows their unique perspective.

Demonstrate fit

One of the essential aspects of your personal statement is demonstrating why you’re a good fit for the school’s MBA program. Do your research beforehand and highlight what attracts you to the program’s curriculum, faculty, alumni network, or location. Moreover, show how your academic and professional background aligns with the program’s mission, values, and culture.

“My goal is to launch a start-up that leverages technology to promote sustainable practices in the energy sector. The school’s Entrepreneurship Lab and the unique opportunity to work with faculty members on research projects would provide invaluable experiences toward achieving this goal.

Moreover, the school’s diverse and inclusive culture appeals to me. As someone who has lived in several countries and speaks three languages, I value the exchange of ideas from different perspectives.

Find your voice

While studying successful MBA personal statement examples can provide good general guidelines, it is crucial to tailor your essays to your individual profile for several reasons. It allows you to authentically showcase your personality, thereby differentiating you from other applicants. It also demonstrates your genuine interest in the program, as you’re taking the time to explain how your unique experiences and goals align with the school’s mission and culture.

The most crucial reason to avoid using templates or automated tools to generate your essay responses is the risk of producing a generic-sounding essay. Admissions committees are inundated with thousands of essays, and a generic, ‘one-size-fits-all’ essay will do little to make you stand out from the crowd. They are interested in understanding who you are as an individual — your unique experiences, aspirations, and perspective. A generic essay fails to provide this insight, reducing your chances of being memorable. More importantly, a personalized essay signals investment and effort, demonstrating your genuine interest in the program, a quality highly valued by admissions committees.

Focus on the quality of your writing

Finally, in addition to finding your unique voice, a well-written MBA personal statement is vital for numerous reasons. Firstly, it serves as a testament to your communication skills — an essential competency in the business world. It demonstrates your ability to articulate thoughts clearly, concisely, and effectively. Secondly, a well-crafted statement is a reflection of your professionalism and diligence. It shows that you value precision and quality in your work, suggesting the same approach would be applied to your studies and future professional roles.

In this context, “well-written” means more than just correct grammar and spelling. It encompasses a clear structure, logical flow of ideas, and compelling narrative. It should capture your unique story and journey, highlighting your aspirations, accomplishments, strengths, and how an MBA program aligns with your career goals.

Conclusion

As demonstrated in the series of MBA personal statement examples, the significance of a well-written MBA personal statement can’t be overstated. It’s not merely a formality but a critical tool in painting a comprehensive picture of who you are beyond your academic scores, test scores, and resume. It’s your opportunity to express your motivation for pursuing an MBA, your fit with the program and your potential contribution to the school community. Therefore, it is fundamental to show the admissions committee that you are more than just a candidate — you are a promising future business leader!

The Admit Lab offers MBA essay service packages that help you with the entire writing process, or an hourly service that can provide you with feedback on your existing drafts. Whether you are struggling with crafting an essay or in need of an objective opinion, don’t hesitate to reach out to get the best results and gain a competitive edge in the admission game. Got questions? Got questions? Sign up for a consultation, or send us your draft for an estimate. It’s FREE!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Dr. Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Dr. Barr spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Dr. Barr has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

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Originally published at https://admit-lab.com on September 6, 2023.

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Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: https://admit-lab.com/