Posted on June 10, 2019

Darden MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines: 2019- 2020


Darden full time MBA application for the 2019-2020 application season is live now. Darden has retained its short question format that it had introduced last year. Two of the five questions have been modified, two questions remain unchanged, while one question has been replaced by a new question. The applicants have a total of 700 words to present their candidacy to the admission committee. “We want to get to know all of the various facets of your background and personality.”

Application Deadlines:

Round Application Deadline Interviews Admission Decision
Early Action 03 September 2019 Schedule your own 09 October 2019
Round 1 04 October 2019 By Invitation 11 December 2019
Round 2 06 January 2020 By Invitation 18 March 2020
Round 3 06 April 2020 By Invitation 06 May 2020


Darden’s Early Action round introduced last year is designed for full-time MBA candidates who are sure that Darden is their first choice. Applications for Early Action are due Tuesday, September 3, 2018, and decisions will be released on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. All applications for the full-time MBA are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on the deadline day. For more information click here.

Essay Questions:

1. Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)

This question about significant impact is modified a little bit. The first statement about the kind of leaders Darden cultivates has been added to it (it was part of another question last year). This addition will help the applicants to remain more focused when choosing their leadership stories. Your story should emphasize your ‘responsible leadership’ and ‘focus on purpose’ that led to meaningful results and a significant impact on your organization. That is, you will elaborate that the decisions you made and the results you achieved benefitted your organization or your team member in a significant manner.

For organizing your ideas, as always, we recommend following the STAR Method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result); however, keeping in mind the stringent word limit, you MUST highlight the ‘result/ outcome part’ of your story. You have the option to choose a professional story or non-work story (extra-curricular or community work). Though the essay prompt doesn’t ask you to reflect on the significance of the experience, you may wrap up your story (if space permits) with a final comment about how this experience was meaningful to you.

2. Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Read University of Virginia’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)

This is a new short question this year. However, Darden had asked a somewhat similar question two years back wherein it asked the applicants “about a time when their opinion evolved through discussion with others” who had different “views and perspectives.” In Darden’s case method of learning, students are presented with an actual business problem, along with all the relevant associated data, and tasked with identifying a solution to that problem. Each student analyzes the situation and information on his/ her own, then discusses it with the members of the learning team, and finally does so in the classroom. So having one’s ideas and opinions challenged is vital to Darden's experience. This is the reason why the admissions committee wants to assess if an applicant can listen, reflect, learn, and grow in this environment.

Again, you may choose a personal or professional example/ story. Given the word limit of 200 words, you may not write more than 1-2 sentences on setting up the situation but focus more on your thought process and the resulting change in your opinion/ perception. It is important to describe ‘before’ and ‘after’ situation, so you can share the inflection point that triggered the change in your thinking.

3. The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (50 words)

This question has been modified a little bit. That is, an introduction has been added; however, the response to the question remains the same. Darden expects its students to participate in at least one global opportunity during their two years of MBA. In 50 words, identify the name of the country that you would like to choose for your global assignment, explain reasons for your choice, and how your choice will enhance your learning as well as the learning of your peers. This super short question not only reveals your knowledge of Darden but also speaks about your personality and interest. You may use this essay to share a different side of you that is not presented elsewhere.

4. “Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about your– personal, professional or both.” (100 words)

This question remains unchanged from last year. Through this essay of only 100 words, you will introduce yourselves to your learning teams. At Darden, you will be solving cases within your learning teams of 4 to 5 members, so your learning team members should learn that you will be a great team player who will contribute significantly to the team. Tell your team members what team working skills and attributes you have and show them what you will bring to the table by sharing some stories/ anecdotes that highlight those skills in a personal or professional context. Again, you have the option to choose both personal and professional examples. When selecting examples for these 3 essays, you want to make sure to maintain a balance between your personal and professional examples, so you can showcase your well-rounded personality to the admission committee.

5. What is your short-term, post-MBA goal, and why? (150 words)

This question is again a repeat from last year and is a fairly straightforward goals essay. Note that the question asks you only about your short-term goal and not your long-term vision. So, you need to elaborate on your post-MBA objectives. Please identify the position that you hope to hold immediately after the MBA program, specifying a job title/ role, industry, and 1-2 organizations/ companies that interest you. Articulate your goal and explain why this goal is interesting and important to you. Please make sure that your goals are ambitious as well as realistic. The schools want to know that the path you have chosen is attainable, and the program has resources to aid you in reaching that goal. To provide a convincing response, you can explain what skills and knowledge you possess that will help you accomplish your goal in your chosen field.

Darden's Tips on Essays: “Use the essay to display your writing skills and tell us more about yourself. You will be asked to organize a persuasive argument to show us how you think about and approach business challenges. Emphasize those experiences, values, and goals that are most important and meaningful to you. Be sincere and be specific. Tell us what particular experiences and expertise you will bring to the mix. The essay question field is large enough for you to answer the question thoroughly.”

For some useful techniques to help you meet the tight word limits of 200 words, click here

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Tops Programs- 2019-20

25 Video/Chat Interviews of Successful MER Students

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

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

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