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The Harvard MBA essay is legendary for its ability to scare people. With Harvard’s 12% acceptance rate for 2015, every part of your application needs to stand out. All you need to do is create an interesting, factual, and well thought out essay.

This essay is a major asset if you use it effectively.


  • This is a business exercise.
  • Information quality is more important than verbiage.

They don’t need you to write a library. You can write your essay in a few hundred words, about one sheet on a Word document. The “unstated” word count is 800 words. Be thoughtful, rather than verbose.

Essay content issues

Consider this:

As the Harvard essay question for 2017 states, they already have a lot of information on your application. They want you to provide supporting information for your candidacy.

So- Don’t rehash your application, and deliver useful additional information.

The content of the essay must be used as an assessment tool:

  • What are your top priority reasons for getting an MBA?
  • What are your career goals? How does a Harvard MBA achieve those goals? (See the Harvard MBA program Required Curriculum page for useful reference points.)
  • What leadership roles have you undertaken which define your personal drivers in relation to the MBA qualification?

Essay content values

Your essay content has one basic criterion:

How do you combine the essay content above into a single document, which makes a good case for your application?

Short answer – tell Harvard what they need to know. The essence of good writing is clarity and simplicity.

Sample content

The following paragraphs are examples of useful information you can include in your essay:

I have the greatest, most rewarding job in the world. I’m a senior project manager for a large construction corporation. I have an extremely supportive employer, by whom I’ve been promoted three times in four years.

I manage a very diverse culture of contractors, architects, engineers, stakeholders, and investors as well as my project teams. I’m in a wonderfully challenging leadership position working on multiple construction projects. This is a career track I want to follow forever.

That said – I am now clearly arriving at a crossroads in my career. I’m deeply conscious of the steep learning curve required to progress in this highly competitive field to top corporate levels. I’m on a threshold, and I need a fully integrated range of skills to progress in this fabulous career.

My top priorities are:

  • Develop and enhance my strategic management skills and knowledge.
  • Consolidate and thoroughly integrate my practical financial management experience with a much broader knowledge base.
  • Advanced corporate planning skills development, particularly in the capital management, marketing, and investment areas.
  • Practical, holistically-based experience in a leadership role in the above fields.

You’ll notice that priorities are clearly laid out in bold font for the reader’s benefit, addressing core issues. This also saves space.

Write, edit your MBA eesay, and assess it like a business document. Does it do the job you want it to do? Is it good value as additional information? You’ve got it right.

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