Two-Year MBA

Round 1: 10 October 2018
Round 2: 15 November 2018
Round 3: 3 January 2019
Round 4: 10 April 2019

One-Year MBA

Early Action:10 September 2018
Round 1: 10 October 2018
Round 2: 15 November 2018
Round 3: 3 January 2019
Rolling (Final): 3/15/2019*

*After January 3rd, applications will be received and reviewed on a space-available basis with a final submission deadline of March 15, 2019.


We’ve noticed a growing interest in Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to us, as Cornell seems to have successfully restructured its MBA program in 2016. In fact, Johnson has been rather consistently trending upwards across rankings and delivering high results in post-MBA salary statistics.

Johnson’s application takes a unique approach, so it’s highly recommended that you do some advanced planning before jumping into any particular portion of the app. If you’re looking for help in creating the strongest possible essays for Cornell, feel free to contact us.

Essay 1 (Goals Statement) — A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout the admissions process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience. To the best of your understanding today, please share your short and long term goals by completing the following sentences and answering the enclosed short answer question (250 words maximum):

Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:

In 5 – 10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___.
Targeted Job Role:
Target Job Company:

How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals?

This is a novel approach to a classic question. At the heart of it, Johnson is trying to evaluate how realistic and how attractive your career objectives are. To start, it’s helpful to take the time to study your career, beginning with your university studies, piece by piece. How has each of your experiences influenced and benefited the next? Once you’ve figured that out, you can better identify how your short-term and long-term goals fit into the larger picture. Do keep in mind, your long-term goal is defined as your potential role in 5 to 10 years. Aiming high is important, however, being unrealistically optimistic in your projections could turn Cornell off from your profile.

If you’ve conducted a proper analysis of your work and higher education history, you can create a more effective answer for the final question. As you respond to it, try to express not only what skills and experiences you’ve gained but also what sort of passion you’ve developed for your goals. You can choose one or two short, impactful examples that strongly illustrate these points, though you shouldn’t write too extensively about your biggest hits, as you’ll have other opportunities in this application to showcase your accomplishments.

Essay 2 (Impact) —At Cornell, we value students who create an impact. Please indicate the opportunities for impact that you’ve identified through engagement with our community and describe how what you learned has influenced your decision to apply to Johnson. (500 words limit)

How well do you know Cornell Johnson? If you haven’t had the opportunity yet, you need to dive into researching everything that Johnson has to offer. Even better, if you can find the time, join some events or visit the campus, and connect with alumni and current students. Though, the insights you gain from this process are not going to be useful unless you connect them to yourself.

Don’t make the classic mistake of showing the depth of your Johnson-related knowledge by simply listing opportunities to engage with other students that you might find interesting. Instead, associate the research you’ve done with previous experiences you’ve had or areas of mastery. How can you tie together what you know or what you love with the Johnson community?

For the final portion of the essay, you need to explain your motivation for entering Cornell and how it relates to your desire to impact the school. Johnson wants to be made certain that, to some extent, your motivation for pursuing an MBA is connected with your understanding of the impact other students have made on Johnson’s community, as well as the potential impact you may have on the program.

Essay 3 (Back of Your Resume) —The front page of your resume has given us a sense of your professional experience and accomplishments as well as your academic summary and extracurricular involvement. If the back page reflects “the rest of your story,” please help us get to know you better by sharing the experiences that will give us insight into your character, values, and interests.*

We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube, etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions. The maximum file size is 5 MB. If you choose to submit a written essay, please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer. Multimedia submissions should be under 5 minutes.

It’s very important to understand what this ‘essay’ is and what it is not. One point you should very much keep in mind is that you should not use this space to simply relist information that has already appeared in other portions of your essay. However, you can expand on points that appear in other sections of your application. For instance, if you mention on your CV that you’ve been practicing ballet, you could shoot a small video in which you practice the art, and explain how you got into it and what it means to you.

In many ways this is an American ‘beer test’ question; everything else aside, would I have a beer with this candidate? So, it’s important that you really concentrate on expressing your individuality here. That doesn’t mean that you need to utilize the most unique format for presentation. Focus on the content first and foremost.

Optional Essay — You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson (500 words maximum).

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application and candidacy since the last time you applied for admission. Please also review our Admissions Policy for additional information about re-applying (500 words maximum)

If you happen to be a new applicant, you should reserve this space to explain, plainly and directly, the circumstances surrounding any issues (gap in work history, poor academic performance, etc.) in your application. As always, if there’s a problem with your application, meet it head-on in this essay. Explain the context and why it won’t happen again. If possible, try to demonstrate that you permanently resolved the issue. Moreover, do not spend more time than necessary talking about the problem: be brief.

On the other hand, if you’re a reapplicant, you’ll need to use this space to talk about what’s changed since your last submission. There are many positive changes that could have taken place; for instance, you might have been promoted at work, changed to a position with greater responsibilities or lead a successful charitable campaign; it could also be the case that you’ve reassessed your career objectives, arriving at more realistic and attractive goals. As I often mention, make sure that you set yourself apart from all of your competition here: other applicants and your former self.

Published On: November 22nd, 2018 / Categories: Cornell Johnson, Essay, MBA / Tags: , , , /