Posted on December 16, 2023

Darden MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines- 2023-24

Darden MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines- 2023-24

Located in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia, the UVA Darden School of Business aims to "improve the world by inspiring responsible leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. The program is known for its case-based learning method and keeps collaboration and teamwork at center stage. Darden continues to invite candidates to submit a test waiver request or submit a range of tests, including GMAT, GMAT Focus, GRE, Executive Assessment (EA), MCAT, and LSAT.

Application Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Interviews Decision Release
Early Action September 7, 2023 Limited Open Interviews October 18, 2023
Round 1 October 4, 2023 By Invitation December 6, 2023
Round 2 January 4, 2024 By Invitation March 13, 2024
Round 3 April 3, 2024 By Invitation May 1, 2024



Like last year, Darden asks applicants to write three short essays covering a wide range of topics- teamwork, diversity and inclusion, and career goals. The three questions have been slightly tweaked this year. There is a slight change in word limits. The Introduction essay is reduced to 100 words, and the career goals essay is now 200 words instead of 100 words. The applicants have 600 words to showcase various facets of their candidacy to the admission committee.

From Darden Website:

For the 2023–24 application cycle, we will again feature short essay questions, which provide a broader platform for applicants to highlight their experiences through multi-dimensional narratives. These questions are a great opportunity for you to help the Darden Admissions Committee understand who you are and who you will be at Darden.

Here is our analysis of Darden's essay questions:

Essay #1: Community of Belonging: What would you want your classmates to know about you that is not on your resume? (100 words)

This question allows applicants to reveal what they would want their classmates to know about them. Given Darden’s emphasis on case-based learning methods and the importance of collaboration and teamwork, the admission committee wants to learn how well candidates will function in teams both in and outside the classroom. This question focuses on your association with classmates. Use this essay to shine a spotlight on your personal attributes – your passions and interests and what makes you "YOU'. Through relevant examples, showcase your teamwork skills, and personal and professional attributes that would make your classmates want to have you as their peer. Show them what you will bring to the table by sharing some stories/ anecdotes highlighting your unique attributes. You have the flexibility to choose both personal and professional experiences, but make sure to include elements that are NOT already there on your resume.

Essay #2: Please describe a tangible example that illuminates your experience promoting an inclusive environment and what you would bring to creating an inclusive global community at Darden. (300 words)

Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important to business schools in the current world. The essay prompt allows you to choose a personal or professional example. You must be working with people from different cultures, geographies, ethnicities, age groups, and skill sets at work. Look for an example of when you encouraged and accepted people who are different from you. Perhaps you went the extra mile to help an elderly member feel comfortable and safe during the pandemic by easing his workload or encouraging an introverted member to voice their views in the meeting. What conscious steps did you take to promote an inclusive environment?

 Please make sure to elucidate only one story/ example. As always, we encourage you to follow the STAR method and explain what the situation was. (S) What needed to be done? (T) What action did you take? (A) and what was the result (R)? Also, share the thought process that drove you to your decision.

In the second part of the essay, explain how you would contribute to creating an inclusive environment in and outside of class at Darden. With the 300-word limit, you can allot approximately 150-200 words to detail your story and 100 words to explain your plans to foster inclusivity at Darden.

Essay #3: At this time, how would you describe your short-term, post-MBA goal in terms of industry, function, geography, company size, and/or mission, and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (200 words)

This is a fairly straightforward goals essay that asks applicants about their short-term goals, specifying industry, function, geography, company size, and mission. The candidates must also explain how their short-term plan aligns with their long-term vision.

Begin with elaborating on your post-MBA objectives, identify the position you hope to hold immediately after the MBA program, and specify a job title/ role, industry, function, and 1-2 organizations/ companies that interest you. Next, articulate your goal and explain why this goal is exciting and vital to you. It is crucial to ensure 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. Provide a brief career history to showcase the skills and knowledge you possess, explaining how these will help you accomplish your goal in your chosen field.

Read our tips on avoiding common mistakes in crafting goals essay:

Avoid These 13 Mistakes in Goals Essay

When selecting examples for the above three essays, you want to maintain a balance between your personal and professional examples so that you can present your well-rounded personality to the admission committee.

Watch this video for Essay advice from Dawna Clarke

Make every word count and be as precise as you can. Please read the following blog to learn about 11 strategies to meet the word limits (the article also includes a video recording of the webinar we did on this subject):

11 Strategies to Meet the Strict Word Limits of MBA Essays

For more information about applying to Darden, please click here.

Free Resources

Overarching Essay Tips

MER Students Share Their Success Stories

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2023-24

Case Studies

About MER (myEssayReview)

Poonam Tandon, the founder of MER (myEssayReview), is a Ph.D. in English with 12 years of MBA consulting experience and three decades of teaching experience in India and the US. A master storyteller, Poonam has successfully guided hundreds of students worldwide to gain admission into the esteemed MBA, EMBA, and specialized Masters's programs in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Throughout her four-decade-long professional career, she has reviewed 10,000+ essays written by applicants worldwide. Poonam is recognized as one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club (143 reviews).

Do you have questions about your application for the 2023-24 application cycle? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.