Early Action: 12 September 2018

Round 1: 10 October 2018

Round 2: 3 January 2019

Round 3: 20 March 2019


Duke is a very popular target school for those who wish to penetrate the North American market. What many find so compelling about Fuqua is its incredibly warm and people-oriented approach. If you’re interested in what that concretely means, you need to look into and understand a number of unique aspects of the MBA, starting with Duke’s “Team Fuqua” mentality. Team Fuqua is a particular focus on leadership through teamwork that informs the whole educational process at Duke. Bill Boulding, Fuqua’s dean, provides an excellent introduction for the subject.

As for the essays, they haven’t changed from last year’s. Duke continues to search for students who not only excel in their careers, but also have strong characters that fit into Fuqua’s culture. It’s therefore extremely important to take the time to read about and connect with Duke and its alumni, well before you begin to answer these questions.

Instructions: Answer all three of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

2. What are your long-term goals

3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize, what alternative directions have you considered?

Imagine an arrow that stretches from your past work experiences, through the MBA and into your first position following your MBA. That’s the crux of the first question. To answer it, you need to think about what makes that arrow streamlined. If you target short-term goals based off of the skills that you’ve gained in your past experiences and those which you’ll gain through your MBA, your answer will seem strategic and realizable.

When it comes to the second question, while your long-term goals can be much more expansive, they should still follow the same principles as the previous question. That means that you need to focus on long-term goals that build upon your short-term goals. Even if your far-off plans will take place in a completely different setting, you want to make sure that the skills you’ve been developing and will develop can still provide you with strong benefits in the more distant future.

The final question is a very interesting one. Most of the MBA candidates we see go into a program with one idea about their career and exit with an entirely different one. It’s only natural that all sorts of unexpected factors may come to influence your post-MBA career. However, Duke wants applicants who can anticipate this possibility and prepare contingencies for it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to plan to enter a completely different role; for example, it could be the same position but in a different industry. Whatever you choose, make sure that it still fits comfortably between your past experiences and your long-term goal.

First required essay: 25 random things about yourself

Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed two pages.

For context: Fuqua believes different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out the best in everyone. And above all, we place a premium on succeeding while making a positive impact on businesses, organizations, and the world.  These ways of thinking set the Duke MBA experience apart, and this concept extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more. 

In this spirit, the admissions committee also wants to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

This is an extremely open and personal essay. Looking for some inspiration and a wonderful example? Shari Hubert, associate dean of admissions at Duke, shares an impressive list of her own. If you peruse Dean Hubert’s list, you instantly get a sense of her struggles, her humor, her values and her accomplishments. Even if her photo weren’t in the article, I’m sure she’d come across in your mind as a vivid character. That’s what Duke wants to see in your list: a colorful personality.

Don’t just jump in and try to write down 25 facts about yourself. Take a bit of time to reflect on what the memorable moments in your life have been made up of. What occupies your time? What made you laugh for days? What made you cry? What made you most proud? What changed the direction of your life?

Outside of your own opinion, talk with family, friends and acquaintances to find out what they believe most stands out about your lived experience. Throughout this essay, it’s most important to concentrate on developing a representative variety: from the humorous to the serious, make sure the pieces combine to make a clear vision of the whole.

Second required essay: The Fuqua community and you

Instructions: Your response should be no more than two pages in length.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community outside of the classroom?

The first and by far the most integral step to take in this essay is to do a deep dive into what Fuqua offers its student body. This question absolutely requires a significant understanding of everything that Duke could offer to you. As you research the program and speak with alumni, take the time to record what you’re most excited about pursuing, joining, and developing, as well as what parts of Duke’s philosophy most appeal to you.

Once you’ve developed a thorough list, connect each of the points with a personal or professional experience. Since Duke wants applicants that want to contribute and be of benefit to the larger Fuqua community, it would help to highlight those activities where you could go beyond simple participation; you can’t be a leader and a team player if you aren’t able to figure out where you’ll be of most use.

Optional essay: Tell us more

If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance), please explain them in an optional essay.

Please do not upload additional essays or additional recommendations in this area of the application, and limit your response to one page.

This essay clearly states that it should only be used for explaining problematic areas in your application. As tempting as it might be, do not try to wrench another essay inside this space. On the other hand, if you do have an issue that you need to clarify, do not leave this area blank. Without any explanation, Duke will have no choice but to assume the worst.

If you must account for a problem in your application, it’s best to do so by showing how you’ve learned from and rectified the issue. However, don’t harp on it. This section should be short and matter-of-fact. Whatever the problem was that you faced originally, you’ve now analyzed it, corrected for it, and moved on.

Published On: September 27th, 2018 / Categories: Duke, Essay, MBA / Tags: , , , , /