Posted on July 25, 2020

Chicago Booth MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2020-21

Chicago Booth

The Chicago Booth, the world’s most flexible full-time MBA program, evaluates candidates based on the criteria of academic preparedness, intellectual curiosity, and communication skills. It is ‘the destination for ambitious, intellectually curious professionals—bold leaders who want to advance in their careers and earn an MBA degree from the world’s leading academic business school’.

Application Deadlines:

The Chicago Booth MBA deadlines for the 2020-21 admissions season are as follows:

Round Application Due Decision Notification
Round 1 September 24, 2020 December 3, 2020
Round 2 January 12, 2021 March 18, 2021
Round 3 April 1, 2021 May 20, 2021
Chicago Booth Scholars April 1, 2021 June 3, 2021

All applications are due by 11:59 PM CST.

Essay Questions:

Like last year, the admission committee requires the applicants to answer two essay questions. The first essay remains unchanged, but the second essay question has been changed this year.

From Booth Admissions Blog: Our approach to the MBA application and evaluation is holistic. In this way, we can begin to get a sense of who you are both professionally and personally. That is why this year you’ll find that we kept the essay question that provides insights into your post-MBA goals and added a new question that gets at the heart of your motivations.

Instead of a maximum word limit, there is a minimum word limit of 250-words. Though there is no maximum word limit for these essays, the admission committee asks candidates to use their own judgment in determining how long the submission should be.

From the Booth Website: We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

I advise my students to include only the essentials and keep their submission within 500 words for each essay.

Apart from these two required essay questions, applicants can also submit an optional essay to address/explain any weaknesses in their profile or any extenuating circumstances. Re-applicants will also submit an essay explaining how their perspective about their future, Booth, and MBA has changed this year.

Let us take a closer look at the essays:

  1. How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250-word minimum)

This is a standard goals essay that focuses on your short-term and long-term goals and how an MBA from Booth will help you achieve your goals. To begin with, provide a brief account of your career history, explaining the skills and knowledge you have gained the accomplishments you have made. Outline how your professional experiences so far have inspired your career plans.

Now share your short-term goals. Identify the position that you hope to hold immediately after MBA, specifying role, position, industry, and 1-2 organizations/companies which you would like to work for. Articulate your goal and explain why this goal is interesting and important to you. Please note that your post-MBA goal should show a logical progression from your current skill set and knowledge acquired through an MBA degree. Your goals should be ambitious as well as realistic. That is, if you aim for a technology or a consulting role, you will need to demonstrate that you already possess some skills/experience in that area and are now aiming to enhance those skills. Likewise, if you are a career changer, you should provide evidence as to how your current skill set would facilitate this transition. Now explain your long-term career vision. Your short-term goals should naturally lead to your long-term goals which may or may not be specific in nature.

After that, discuss the gap in your skillset that you hope to fill through Booth MBA. Connect your goals to the curriculum, career placement, and other resources and offerings of the Booth program, explaining how they can prepare you for the future career. Please note that thorough research of the Booth MBA program and its offerings is key to an effective response to this question. Be specific about how skills, knowledge, and experience acquired at Booth will help you build on your past knowledge and skills, inching you closer to your goals. Chicago Booth admission committee looks for individuals who are aware of the direction their decisions will lead them to and their eagerness and undaunted spirit to make an impact. The intent is to see if you can fit into the ethos of Booth’s community.

  1. An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (Minimum 250 words, no maximum.)

Last year, Booth asked about the ‘choices’ that included both personal and professional choices. This year the Booth admission committee expects applicants to reveal their personal side. The purpose of this essay is to show who you are as a person and what motivates you. You will have to do some soul searching and share stories from your personal, academic, and community life that showcase your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions. Give the admission committee a glimpse into what matters most to you, what drives you, motivates you, and has shaped you as a person.

When writing this essay, focus on experiences that have shaped your values and priorities all these years.  Do not shy away from sharing the challenging experiences in life – often tough experiences make us stronger and self-aware. Remember all of you are unique individuals, so your experiences, values, and interests will set you apart from other candidates. Some people have extensive volunteer engagement, while some may have varied interests and hobbies outside of work. This essay is a great place to share your involvement and passion for voluntary service and your interests and hobbies.

Having discussed your passions, and interests that occupy your days outside of your work hours and are the guiding forces in your life, connect them to your potential experiences at the ‘choice rich’ environment of Booth. Your research of Booth’s resources and offerings will come in handy to address this part of the question. Explain how you see yourself engaging in the clubs and organizations of Booth based on your interests and passion. This is your chance to show to the Ad com what you will bring to the table as a student and as a valuable alumnus. For instance, you can talk about how your accomplishments in a specific sport or your passion for volunteer work will enable you to actively engage in specific clubs or organizations at Booth. This is a great way to demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the program. Please note that self-awareness is imperative for acceptance to the MBA program in Chicago Booth.

While the first essay unfolds your professional accomplishments and goals, the second essay unveils your interests, motivation, and values outside of the professional arena. Make sure that these two essays should showcase a well-rounded picture of your professional and personal self.

If you are invited to interview, you will have the opportunity to share even more about who you are, how you think, and why. You will get two short answer questions that allow you to further showcase yourself.

Optional Essay: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300 words maximum)

This optional essay asks you for information that will clarify something that is unclear. It is a great place to address any weaknesses in your profile. For example, if you have lower than average GMAT score, any grades below a C on your transcript, academic probation, or a significant employment or education gap, you can explain it in this essay. Also, if you cannot get your recommendation letter from your current supervisor, please explain that in the optional statement.

To provide context for a weakness in your profile, make sure your reason is genuine to convince the Ad Com that your low grades or employment gap occurred due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. For example, if you are discussing your employment gap, you may explain that you did something productive during that period, such as traveling, volunteering, or handling a family medical emergency.

If you do not have any weakness in your profile or any areas that need justification/explanation, you may skip this question and focus only on the required two essays. This question, unlike the required questions, does have a word limit. Please respect it.

Re-applicant Question: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/ or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words maximum)

The answer to this re-applicant essay is vital for the re-applicants since it is asking for your perspective and growth. Instead of asking how your application has improved this time, Booth wants to assess how failure has altered your outlook and how differently you have geared up this time for the MBA admission. Take this opportunity to showcase the change in your stance and your maturity to progress towards the goal. Do not forget to mention how you have tailored yourself to meet Booth’s admission criteria. Though the question doesn’t ask for improvements, you should definitely mention if there are any improvements in your profile, such as, an improved test score, or a promotion at work, or significant community involvement that has resulted in a changed outlook of your future. Your conscious efforts to strengthen your profile and to work on your weak areas will prove how determined you are about your Booth MBA.

To meet the prescribed word limit, you need to be extremely precise in presenting your case a make every word count.

For more information about applying to Chicago Booth, please click here.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21

 MER Students Share their success Stories

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs, including Chicago Booth. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

Do you have questions about your Booth application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.