Kellogg MBA Essay Questions and Tips

If Kellogg School of Management is on your list of target MBA programs, you’ve likely begun thinking about how to approach the Kellogg MBA essay questions. You’ve come to the right place. Read on for the Kellogg MBA essay questions and tips to ensure your responses are as strong as possible.

Kellogg MBA Essay Questions

  1. Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
  2. Values are what guide us in our life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Note: There is also a third required essay for those applying to a specialized MBA program and/or for those who are reapplying. Finally, Kellogg has three video essay questions that will need to be submitted within 96 hours of the application deadline (a link will be sent to you after you submit your application).

Kellogg MBA Essay Tips

To begin, it’s helpful to consider the qualities Kellogg seeks in its applicants. As shared on its blog, Kellogg ‘…develop[s] leaders who are empathetic, innovative and who harness the power of diverse teams to meet complex challenges.’ Aim to put your own personal spin on this statement and share experiences that demonstrate it resonates with you.


Think Long and Hard About the Story You Select for Essay One

As the first essay prompt indicates, Kellogg is looking for you to share one concrete ‘story’ in your answer. So, essentially, you have one shot to demonstrate why, as proven by a past experience, you will make an indelible mark on their incoming class. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one story, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Our recommended approach is to brainstorm a variety of stories you could potentially use here and not simply go with the first one that comes to mind. Just because an accomplishment was personally significant to you doesn’t mean it is the best material for this essay.

As general guidance, we would steer you towards a professional example that is relatively recent (within the last two years) and involved teamwork of some kind. Kellogg wants to see the kind of leader you are today and given the heavily team-oriented nature of the program, telling a story about a time you accomplished something without the help of others doesn’t demonstrate the fit they are looking for. 

Further, gravitate towards a time where you acted outside of your day-to-day job responsibilities (maybe you took the initiative to fix a process that was broken or launched a new employee resource group at your company) – this is how you hit on the ‘brave leadership’ element Kellogg is looking for.

Essay Two Should Blend the Personal and Professional

When it comes to the content for essay two, it should nearly always include some discussion of your future goals. If you’ve done robust personal branding work, these goals are rooted in your values and passions, exactly what this essay is looking for.

Thinking holistically about the Kellogg application, there really isn’t another place to talk about your vision for the future and how an MBA fits into it. As such, this is the ideal place to include it.

That said, the whole essay probably shouldn’t be forward looking. You want to show that you’ve put your values into practice through your past choices and actions too. Maybe the same value that led you to your pre-MBA career (drive for excellence, a desire to overcome challenges, etc.) is also influencing your future goals and decision to pursue an MBA.

Structure Ideas

For Essay 1, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:

P1: Brief intro that previews the story you will tell and the learnings you will share at the end
P2: Context / background info for your story
P3: Challenge you faced as part of the experience and how you overcame it
P4: Wrap up the story, covering the ‘results’ and impact on your team or organization
P5: Share ~2 ‘learnings’ from the story that you can envision applying at Kellogg and beyond

For Essay 2, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:

P1: Introduce the value(s) you will cover in the essay and preview your answer to how they have influenced you
P2: Share the ‘origin’ of these values (i.e., what experience or person/people caused these values to be central to your life)
P3: Example story from later in life showing an application of these values
P4: Forward-looking discussion of how these values have influenced your future career plans and desire to pursue a Kellogg MBA

Kellogg MBA Video Essay Tips

Kellogg has provided two of the three questions you will be asked and outlines the topic of the third prompt.

  1. Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.
  2. What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?
  3. This question will be based on a challenge you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from it.

Once the clock starts ticking, you will have 20 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer each question. Focus the bulk of your practice on getting the timing right – a minute is shorter than you think! That said, content is important too and it should be complementary, not repetitive with the rest of your application. Since you don’t know the exact prompt for the last question, prepare a few (2-3) brief stories that might fit. Reflect on what each challenge has taught you and how you have put these learnings into practice since.

If you’d like assistance with your Kellogg essays or your broader MBA application strategy, click here to schedule an initial consultation!

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