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Columbia Business School Essay Analysis

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

The questions are similar to last year, but they dropped the Phillips Pathway question, with the remaining two now required rather than giving applicants a choice of which to answer.

Short answer question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters)

Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 Words)

Essay 2: The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a co-curricular program designed to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to develop as inclusive leaders. Through various resources and programming, the goal is for students to explore and reflect during their educational journey on the following five inclusive leadership skills: Mitigating Bias and Prejudice; Managing Intercultural Dialogue; Addressing Systemic Inequity; Understanding Identity and Perspective Taking; and Creating an Inclusive Environment.

Describe a time or situation when you had the need to utilize one or more of these five skills, and tell us the actions you took and the outcome. (250 words)

Essay 3

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, an extremely active co-curricular and student life environment, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? Please be specific. (250 words)

2023/24 essay question analysis

Essay 1

Similar to prior years, Columbia is asking for both your short-term and long-term plans. Offer context for your motivations (what is the first time you realized this was your goal? How did you feel when you first realized you could fix the “problem” your goal is centered around?), as well as what from your background makes you the best person to pursue this goal.

Also, make sure you’re connecting how your short-term plans relate to your long-term objectives. For example, if you want to start a business, and then become a public servant, explain how starting the business will help you be a better public servant. Otherwise, it risks sounding unrealistic.

While it is fine to include some quick references to how Columbia would help you on the path to achieving your dream job, avoid spending too many words on this (should be less than 15% of the words used in your essay). Instead, save those examples for Essay 3.

Finally, every year, people are tempted to recount their past career as part of this question. Avoid doing this. Talking about your professional path eats up A LOT of words, typically without answering the question directly. Remember, the admissions committee will already have your resume.

Essay 2

This is a new prompt for Columbia, though it touches on themes that other schools ask for in their essays (i.e. Stanford impact essays, last year's Kellogg essay 2). While the tone of the question implies heavy emphasis on Diversity Equity and Inclusion, the types of examples that could be compelling in answering this prompt are fairly wide. Think of a time when you engaged an individual or group that was different than you, and drove yourself and others towards a positive result. Chances are that example would great to include in this section! Also keep in mind that inclusivity can mean more dimensions than just race/ethnicity, gender, gender orientation/identity, and other dimensions currently hot topics in the news. It can also mean being inclusive based on age, socioeconomic, background, disability (visible or hidden), mental health status, faith, and many other dimensions.

Essay 3

Traditionally essay 2, this prompt now shifts to being the third essay due to Columbia's focus on attracting and building empathetic leaders.

This prompt mimics a more traditional “Why [our school]” that other schools ask as well, albeit with a tight word limit. While Columbia is looking for Columbia-specific answers to this question, it still will help to weave in an example drawn from the larger NYC community that Columbia offers you a platform to interact with. An example could be discussing organizations in the city that you will reach out to and build relationships with. Doing so will emphasize how you are seeking to take ownership of your experience at Columbia, rather than waiting for the school to do things for you.

2023/24 deadlines

Specific submission time: 11:59pm ET

Early Decision/January Deadline: September 13, 2023 Merit Based Fellowship Deadline: TBD

Final Regular Decision Deadline: TBD

Deferred Enrollment Deadline: TBD

Other application details

Click here for school interaction opportunities.

The online application for 2023/24 is expected to go live in June; click here to access the application portal once it goes live.


Check out information here.

School resources

Check out our links to several of school's resources, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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