Posted on May 30, 2022

Columbia Business School MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2022- 23


'At the very center of business', Columbia Business School is one of six Ivy League business schools and is one of the oldest business schools in the world. CBS offers rolling admissions, so if you submit early, you will hear back early. Students may enroll in either August or January. The two paths "are identical in terms of competitiveness of admissions, academic rigor, and student resources; but only students who enter in August will be able to complete a summer internship. January (J-Term) students, having completed their first-term courses in the spring, will instead complete their second-term course work over the summer."

Application Deadlines

August 2023 Entry

Early Decision:            September 28, 2022

Merit Fellowship:        January 11, 2023

Final:                            April 5, 2023

January 2023 Entry

Final:                           September 28, 2022


 CBS has dropped the challenge question about DEI and has retained the short answer, why Columbia? and favorite book/movie/song questions from last year. So applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays. In addition, like in previous years, CBS allows applicants to submit an optional essay to explain any areas of concern in their application.

Here is MER's analysis of CBS's essays:

Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:

  • "Work in business development for a media company."
    • "Join a strategy consulting firm."
    • "Launch a data-management start-up."

This is a straightforward question about the candidates' career goals immediately after graduating from Columbia Business School. In a mere 50 characters, including space (approximately eight words), you must mention the job you wish to have after completing your MBA. Please make sure that your post-MBA goal aligns with the long-term goal that you will discuss in Essay #1. Since the character limit is stringent, you may not stress writing complete sentences.

Please reveal your true goals, not what CBS wants to hear I would encourage you to look at CBS' examples of possible responses listed above in italics.

Let's take a closer look at other essays now:

Essay #1

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3 to 5 years, and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)

CBS is going with this prompt again this year and begins by clearly stating not to repeat the information already given in the résumé and recommendations. In other words, the Admission Committee is shoving you away from wasting their time repeating your résumé! Though the question asks only about short-term and long-term goals, a bit of context about professional history is required to explain what has led you to your career goals. Now, if you must mention some of your achievements, it should be done only to carry your career path forward.

You may build your Essay from the immediate post-MBA goal stated in the short answer question. Discuss your career goals over the next 3-5 years, sharing how you intend to progress from your short-term goals to the long-term dream job. Also, make sure to keep the short- and long-term goals aligned. Notice the phrases in the essay question "dream job" and "in your imagination;" CBS urges you to be creative, imaginative, and think big, and is interested in learning about your dream job- your long-term goals. You may not need to conform to the prescribed norms; you could be the one who may pave the way for others.

You may tend to get a bit too carried away with the term "dream job." But you should resist the temptation and be as realistic and grounded as possible while detailing your goals. Try to highlight how things may change for the community or people around you when you succeed in getting your dream job. Your plans could be ambitious, but they should be viable and realistic. So, you should also stress your ability to fulfill your dream.

Although CBS does not ask how MBA from CBS will help you reach your goals, we believe that you can wrap up the Essay with a comment on (only one sentence) how CBS will open the doors to your dream career path. You don't want to go into details since you will discuss 'Why CBS' in the second question.

Read the following blog to avoid mistakes in outlining your goals.

Avoid These 13 Mistakes in Goals Essay

Essay #2

We believe Columbia Business School is a special place. CBS proudly fosters a collaborative learning environment through curricular experiences like our clusters and learning teams, co-curricular initiatives like the Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership, which aims to equip students with the skills and strategies necessary to lead in an inclusive and ethical manner, and career mentorship opportunities like our Executives-in-Residence program.

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally? (300 words)

This Essay picks up from where Essay #1 left off. After detailing your career aspirations, you will now explain how CBS aligns with your goals. The best way to write an effective response is to thoroughly research Columbia's intellectually driven alumni from varied backgrounds, curriculum, experienced faculty, clubs, extracurricular activities, strategic location, and recruiting strengths. And then, discuss how you intend to use the resources and offerings of the CBS MBA program to reach your short-term and long-term goals already mentioned in the short answer question and essay #1. Explain what classes you intend to take and what clubs or student organizations you are excited about attending to fulfill your personal and professional goals

CBS takes great pride in its strategic location, i.e., New York. So, you should put across your plan to make the best use of CBS being at "the very center of business." Having access to the leaders across the world is emphasized by CBS as one of the program's key benefits. You may indicate how you can leverage CBS's close ties to the business, non-profit, and government communities to succeed in the fast-moving competitive environment. Make a list of the opportunities you hope to get at CBS and in New York City, and then link each of these to your goals. Reviewing CBS's website, conversing with the alumni, attending CBS events for prospective students, and visiting campus (if possible) could all work to your advantage by setting your case apart.

However, highlighting how CBS is a good fit for you academically, culturally, and professionally in only 300 words is a tall order. To meet the stringent word limits, please go through the 11 strategies we have discussed (with examples) in the following blog:

  11 Strategies to Meet the Word Limits in MBA Essays

Essay #3

Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)

This Essay was added two years back that allows the applicants to offer the Ad Com a peek into their personal side i.e., values, beliefs, interests, and experiences. The focus of this 250 -words essay should not be on the book, movie, or song but on your reasons for loving that. It does not matter whether you choose a movie, a song, or a book or which movie, song, or book you choose. The key here is why that piece resonates with you. Here, the "why" becomes more important than the "what."

You may begin by providing some background information about the theme of the book, movie, or song you have chosen (approximately 60-70 words) and then go on to explain why that piece is so meaningful to you that it became your favorite. By describing why the piece resonates with you, you are sharing your emotions, feelings, values, fears, and dreams, which in turn reveal the personality traits that make you who you are. And please do not quote from other people's critiques or views. Be original and authentic. Do not write anything that you think the Ad Com will 'like' to hear; instead, be candid in sharing your thoughts and views. Most importantly, stay to the point and be extremely precise in sharing your thoughts in 250 words.

Optional Essay: If you wish to provide further information or additional context around your application to the Admissions Committee, please upload a brief explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to share relevant information with the Ad Com that you could not provide in other parts of your application, essays, and resume. The optional Essay is meant to address any weakness in your profile. For example, if you have a lower-than-average GMAT score, any grades below a ‘C’ on your transcript, academic probation, or a significant employment/education gap, you can explain that in this Essay. Also, if you cannot get your recommendation letter from your current supervisor, you should explain that in the optional Essay.

Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile. To provide a 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. First, explain the facts, then show how you have addressed the issue, and finally, conclude by explaining why this will not impact your ability to handle the academic rigor of the program. Also, as instructed in the prompt, you have the option to submit your information in bullet points instead of writing a formal essay.

This question is entirely optional. If you do not have any area of concern, you may not write this Essay.

Free Resources

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

MER Students Share their Success Stories

Case Studies

15th AIGAC Conference-20202- The Changing Trends in Management Education

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

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