Yale MBA Essay: Tips for 2023-2024

At Menlo Coaching, we noticed that most MBA essays will fall into one of a number of categories: personal essays, career goals essays, behavioral essays, etc. Read ahead for our expert guide on approaching these essays for Yale SOM.

SOM’s Personal Essay

Choose one of the following prompts (500 words maximum):

  • Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. Why is this commitment meaningful to you and what actions have you taken to support it?
  • Describe the community that has been most meaningful to you. What is the most valuable thing you have gained from being a part of this community and what is the most important thing you have contributed to this community?
  • Describe the most significant challenge you have faced. How have you confronted this challenge and how has it shaped you as a person?

SOM’s Career Goals Essay

  • Briefly describe your career interests and how you arrived at them. What have you already done to pursue these interests? What do you need to do going forward? (text box, 150 words maximum)

The Optional Essay

  • If any aspect of your application requires additional explanation, you can address it in the Optional Information section below. Please note, you should use the specific prompts provided in the Work Experience section to address gaps in work experience or choice of recommender. The Optional Information section is truly optional – if no aspect of your application requires further explanation, you should leave this section blank. (upload file, 200 words maximum)
  • If you would like to elaborate on any of your responses within this section, or any other aspect of your background, we encourage you to do so here. (text box, 250 words maximum)

If you are a reapplicant to Yale SOM, you can also find a section on the reapplicant essay, which include this year’s prompt.

Applying to Yale SOM

Yale SOM is looking for students with a well-rounded background and lots of experience that can be translated into a concise and compelling statement. One of the essential tips for an impactful essay is asking yourself why you chose to highlight a particular experience. Did it show significant professional development? Did it show how you overcame a personal struggle? Connecting your essay to the prompt, especially how it shows why you are pursuing an MBA, will make your essay stand out. No matter what the essay prompt is, these tips are broadly applicable. With that being said, the two different types of essays you will see on Yale SOM’s MBA applications are personal and career goals.

Yale SOM’s Personal Essay

Personal essays encompass your moral character, passions in and out of work, and the relationships you have fostered with friends and mentors. This essay type is where you can show the MBA program who you are as an individual and the intrapersonal impacts you have made on people around you. Yale is looking to recruit students who show compassion and enthusiasm in the office and with the people in their lives. Tailoring which attributes you write about to each program is essential. Yale prioritizes personal connections, teamwork, collaboration, real-world experience, and integration with the community. 

Make sure to emphasize where you have shown empathy in your life while explaining how you will contribute positively to the on-campus experience. One of the biggest mistakes students make when writing a personal essay is focusing too much on their professional expertise. This essay is where you can move away from talking about your work and speak about who you are outside of your job.

Yale SOM’s Career Goal Essay

The career goals essay is the space to emphasize your post-MBA plans. MBA programs want to accept students who have concrete, achievable career plans and a roadmap to success. MBA programs want a glowing post-grad report that proves they produce successful graduates with many job prospects (and who will donate money in the future)! Yale also wants students to promote their program to friends, co-workers, and prospective applicants. The career goals essay combines your hard statistics (ex: GMAT score) with your interpersonal skills (ex: recommendations) to formulate the case for getting an MBA. 

Make sure to state your achievable short-term and long-term goals explicitly. Explain why an MBA would help you achieve these goals and how Yale is essential to your plan. Connecting the positive attributes from your personal essay to your career goals essay is critical to forming a well-rounded application. Yale SOM students enter the consulting, finance, and investment banking industries, so emphasize your findings in the essay to show you’re genuinely interested.

Optional Essay

Once you’ve completed your application, the optional Yale SOM essay gives you an additional opportunity to provide the AdCom with any additional information or clarity that you feel would enhance your application.

One trap that MBA applicants fall into is using the additional space provided by this essay to write on a whole new topic. However, this is not always the best idea.

You should only make use of this essay if you what you write will provide context to an element of your application to improve your candidacy—you don’t want to jeopardize your chances by adding unnecessary noise to your application.

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Reapplicant Essay

For reapplicants, Yale SOM requires a specific essay in which you can address how your application has improved since your last application.

In this essay, you can address any improvements to your test scores, promotions at work, additional volunteer or community work, or any significant professional development that you have undertaken since you last applied to the program.

Timing is key for reapplicants, and when you’re applying for an MBA program a second time around, you want to be sure that you are a more qualified and desirable client than you were in the past—even if your application was stellar the first time.

Reapplicant Essay Prompt

  • Since your last application, please discuss any significant updates to your candidacy, including changes in your personal or professional life, additional coursework, or extracurricular/volunteer activities. (upload file, 200 words maximum)


Overall, honesty and growth are the most important parts of a successful MBA application essay. In addition, applying the lessons you learned shows improvement in your interpersonal and professional skills, making you a more attractive candidate for MBA programs.

Need help with admissions essays for Yale SOM MBA? At Menlo Coaching, we’ll walk you through the prompts and share advice on how to tackle each essay type. Gain an edge in your application process with the assistance of our experienced MBA admissions consultants.

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