Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Like most other top-ranked business schools, Fuqua has made some pretty substantial changes to its essays this year, including the introduction of a “25 things” list that we think is pretty exciting. Before you start drafting your Fuqua admissions essays, take a look at this blog post from the Fuqua admissions team to gain some insight into the thinking behind the recent changes.

This quote sums up Fuqua’s point of view pretty well:

This year at Duke, we are stretching the definition of “essay” in an effort to harness the sort of insight that we’re looking for from applicants. The Daytime MBA application now includes three very straightforward short answer questions about the applicant’s goals. Here, we’re just looking for the facts, with minimal embellishment.

Without further ado, here are Fuqua’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action: September 19, 2012
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: January 4, 2013
Round 3: March 21, 2013

Fuqua has actually moved its Early Action round forward by ten days and moved back its Round 1 deadline by about a week. If you’re thinking about applying early to Fuqua, the deadline is now less than a month away! But before you start rushing to start that application, note that, Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if you’re 100% certain that you want to attend Fuqua. If you’re anything less than 100% sure, then save your application for Round 1. Looking at the other rounds, Fuqua’s Round 2 deadline hasn’t changed, while its Round 3 deadline has been pushed back by about two weeks.

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays

Required Short Answer Questions (Just 250 Characters Each)

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
  4. Business schools are really into counting characters (rather than words) these days, huh? The three above short answers should add up to only about 150 words, if it’s easier for you to think about them that way. Re-read that blog post by the Fuqua admissions team… For these short answers, they really are just looking for the facts. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put any thought into these responses, but rather that they’re looking for less hand-waving and “big picture”-speak and for more headlines to help them quickly get a read on why you’re even applying to Fuqua in the first place. Think of this as your chance to make the admissions team’s job a little easier… Rather than having to sort through your application essays to figure out why you’re applying, you’re spelling it out in three bold “can’t miss” headlines. One more thought: Many applicants consider the third question to be a curve ball, but this sort of adaptability is important to show. No one knows how exactly their career will unfold, and with this question Fuqua wants to see if you “get” that idea and have at least thought through some alternatives.

Required Essays

  1. The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

    In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

    Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

    This is one of the most unique “essay” prompts we have seen come along in years! We suspect that many applicants may not like this new prompt since it’s so far “out there” and different from what else is out there. While this shouldn’t be a completely frivolous list, it also should not simply rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once roadtripped with a friend and visited two dozen baseball stadiums” are interesting and reveal something about you, whether you realize it or not. We have seem some advice out there that tells applicants that all 25 items must be “unique” and “ownable,” but it would be a mistake to apply that rule to all 25 items. If the favorite part of your week is spending a couple of hours on Sunday morning reading the paper, then it would be crazy for that not to make it into this list, whether or not other applicants might possibly say the same thing. For us, a good rule of thumb is that approximately half of this list should reinforce your application themes (which you should have nailed down long before drafting this list), and the other half can be more “fun”… Don’t run the risk of putting the admissions committee to sleep with your list. Finally, take a look at the examples that Fuqua admissions officers have posted about themselves!
  2. When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.

    Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

    While the “25 things” question will generate more buzz, we actually think this is the response the Duke admissions team may pay more attention to. The purpose of this question is really to assess your fit with the school. Last year the school simply asked, “Why Duke?” in an essay, and this year the admissions committee will try a new approach, but it’s still about fit: This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its culture, and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community. Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, or has a specific research center that interests you, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. But the school wants you to go beyond rattling off lists of professor and course names from its website and convince them that you will be eager to attend Fuqua if you’re admitted.

For more advice on getting into Fuqua, download our Essential Guide to Fuqua, one of our 15 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Fuqua and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum