Posted on July 12, 2017

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Questions Tips & Deadlines- 2017-18


Duke Fuqua MBA program that seeks ‘leaders of consequence’, has announced its essay questions and application deadlines.

Early action:

Application Deadline: September 12, 2017
Interview Notification: September 26, 2017
Decision Notification: October 19, 2017

Round 1:

Application Deadline: October 10, 2017
Interview Notification: November 9, 2017
Decision Notification: December 15, 2017

Round 2:

Application Deadline: January 3, 2018
Interview Notification: January 30, 2018
Decision Notification: March 15, 2018

Round 3:

Application Deadline: March 20, 2018
Interview Notification: April 11, 2018
Decision Notification: May 1, 2018

Duke Fuqua applicants are asked to submit 3 short answers and 2 required essays for 2017-2018 admissions. Duke’s 2 long essays (2 pages each) and a short career goals essay allows applicants to cover a lot of ground about their personal and professional traits and accomplishments  The first required essay is Duke’s favorite for many years -‘25 Random Things about Yourself' prompt. The second essay prompt is  new this year and asks applicants about their ‘fit’ with ‘Team Fuqua.’

From Duke Website:

Instructions for All Essays:

  • Responses should use 1.5 line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
  • Do not copy the essay question in the document you upload with your application.
  • Respond fully and concisely. Length requirements vary by question and are detailed below.  
  • Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
  • Prepare your responses carefully. The Admissions Committee considers your answers important in the selection process.
  • All essays are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Expressing your ideas by using verbiage from existing sources, including other applicants' essays or materials, without properly crediting those sources constitutes an act of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will result in an application denial. Note: if you have worked with a consultant to complete your application materials, please ensure that the honor code policy is discussed and he/she will not share your essays with other potential applicants.

Let’s take a closer look at the essays:

Required Short Answer Questions

Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

  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? 

The goals essay question has been broken down into 3 parts, so you will answer these straightforward questions separately in a clear, concise, and succinct way.

  1. Discuss what you plan to do immediately after your MBA. Be as specific as you can in outlining your role, position, industry, and the company you aim to join after your MBA. Make sure that your post-MBA goal is a logical progression from your current skill set and skills and knowledge acquired through an MBA degree.
  2. Then explain your long term vision for your career. Also, discuss how you see yourself progressing from achieving your short term objectives to your long term vision.
  3. Lastly, think about your plan B. Duke admits that ‘life is full of uncertainties, and you may come across situations that prevent you from realizing your post-MBA goals. In such a scenario, you must be prepared for your plan B. Please make sure that your alternative career path is in alignment with your experience and the skills, knowledge gained from your MBA education. It should not be an altogether different path that doesn’t allow you to leverage your skills and experience to the fullest.

First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself

Instructions: 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.

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.

This question about ‘a list of 25 random things’ about applicants is Duke’s favorite for many years. Actually, it is my favorite as well. As stated in the essay prompt, the purpose of this question to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. So they suggest that "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". Thus, this question offers you an opportunity to show to the admission committee your multidimensional personality.

I have seen candidates finding this question daunting initially, but when they begin brainstorming ideas about unique and interesting things about themselves, they actually love this process of self-discovery. I advise them to do these brainstorming sessions with their family and friends and ask them what they find interesting and funny about you.  Also, you will need to do a lot of self-reflection to dig into interesting things about your personality, your likes, and dislikes and your unique personal experiences that have made you who you are.

Please note that the word ‘random' allows you to include little fun things that you have done or do in your day- to day life, your hobbies/ habits that have become an inseparable part of your personality. The unique component of this essay question is the “fun” part of it.  So you don’t want to get too serious about yourself. You want to write something that draws your reader in. Also, please resist the temptation of drifting away to your accomplishments, career goals, or leadership experiences because this is NOT what the Ad Com seeks to know about you through this question.  For ideas, you may refer to the following links on the Duke website:

Examples of "25 Random Things"

Bottom Line: Be Yourself

Second Required Essay

Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

This essay is primarily about your contribution to the school. Duke emphasizes greatly on how their students will make their community richer. Hence for this question, it is important for you to do your homework and research the school thoroughly. You need to think beyond your contribution to the classroom and discuss how your involvement in clubs, organizations, and student communities will add value to the program.  Also, in addition to understanding the school’s resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, organizations, and student activities) you should reach out to alumni and current students to get additional insights about the school’s culture.

Please note that it is important to support your claims about your potential contribution to specific clubs and organizations by specific examples from your past experiences, personal or professional, in the given area. In order to demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the program, you must showcase what you have done in the past and how you are going to be a strong contributor as a student and as an alumnus.

Since the short goals essay doesn’t give you an option to explain how Duke will help you realize your goals, you can use this essay to discuss how various resources and offerings of Duke are aligned with your career goals. Be as specific as you can in connecting your career aspirations to specific courses, and clubs and organizations at Duke. However, the main focus should be your community involvement and how you plan to add value to it.

Optional Essay

If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).

Do NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area of the application. The Optional Essay is intended to provide the Admissions Committee with insight into your circumstances only. Limit your response to one page.

As instructed in the essay prompt, submit the optional essay only if you have to explain extenuating circumstances. (e.g. “unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance”).  If you have a low GPA or less than ideal GMAT, or if you are not able to get a recommendation from your current supervisor, or if you have an employment gap, you may address these concerns in your optional essay. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. This essay should convey that you are aware that these are areas of concern in your application, but, whenever possible, you have made a sincere effort to improve upon these areas.

If you do not have any of those areas to explain, it’s best to skip this question and focus only on the required three essays.

myEssayReview has helped applicants get accepted into Duke. For questions, email Poonam at

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