Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business recently released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Bucking the trend among most top MBA programs, Duke has actually made no changes this year! However, last year the school made some pretty radical changes, so one could argue that other schools are now coming around to some of these aggressive and creative changes. Further, the fact that Fuqua hasn’t made any changes this year suggests that the admissions committee likes what it saw last year, so following their advice and giving them what they want is key.

Here are the Fuqua School of Business’ admissions deadlines and essays for the coming year:

Duke (Fuqua) Application Deadlines
Early Action: September 18, 2013
Round 1: October 21, 2013
Round 2: January 6, 2014
Round 3: March 20, 2014

Fuqua’s admissions deadlines have barely changed since last year, which each deadline moving by no more than a few days. On important note about the school’s Early Action deadline: Even though it’s called “Early Action,” Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if Fuqua is clearly your first choice. If that’s not the case, then save your application for Round 1, which still gets you your final decisions from the admissions committee before the holidays.

Duke (Fuqua) Application 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. This trio of short questions (and really short answers!) carries over unchanged from last year, and so our advice mostly remains the same. 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. With the three short questions, the admissions team really is 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 question also carries over unchanged. This exercise makes many applicants uncomfortable since it’s so far removed from the “typical” MBA admissions essay, but we like it. While you shouldn’t generate a completely frivolous list, you also shouldn’t simply rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once narrowly lost a pizza-eating contest to the eventual state champion” are relevant and reveal something important about you (that you’re fun!), whether you realize it or not.

    We have seen 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 some examples that Fuqua admissions officers and students have posted about themselves… You’ll see that they’re far from 100% serious!

  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 gets talked about more, 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. The school used to simply ask, “Why Duke?” in an essay, and last year the admissions committee tried this 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. The first eight words of this question are the Fuqua admissions committee’s way of saying, “Please don’t just tell us what you think we want to hear.”

    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 14 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, get a free profile evaluation from 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