write successful MBA applications

Stanford MBA Essay Questions and Tips


Your answers to the two essay questions cannot exceed 1150 words. Suggested word limits: Essay A: 750 words, Essay B: 400 words.


Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

A strong response to this question will:

  • Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”
  • Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.
  • Genuinely illustrate who you are and how you came to be the person you are.
  • Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.
  • Be written from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you.


The correct answer for you lies somewhere close to the most obvious answer. Look for it. You will know when you hit the right answer.  


"My first answer was money. When I asked why, I answered that I want to give my family a great life. Then, I asked, so does money matter to me most or is it the family? Since money was not all that I wanted to give to the family, I wanted to give them time, support to meet their dreams, and values to help them wade through the ups and downs, I got my answer. Family matters most to me. Money will only help me give them what they need. Having found the answer, I delved on the why part and I could recall my growing up years when I ..."


Essay B: Why Stanford?

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

A strong response to this essay question will:

  • Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.
  • Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.


Show clarity about your short-term goals. Which industry, type of organization, role, why? What kind of challenges will you take up, what will you like to learn and contribute? Where do you expect the short-term goal to take you? Why is the goal important?  How will the Stanford MBA contribute to these goals, also how will it address the learning objectives you may have set.