Posted on August 24, 2021

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2021-22

Duke Fuqua_2021

Duke Fuqua MBA program that seeks 'leaders of consequence' is known for a culture that is "more  supportive, more collaborative, more immersive and more diverse."Fuqua has made a few minor changes to the 2021-22 application. The word limits for Essay 2 and the optional essay have been increased from 300 words to 500 words. Allison Jamison, Assistant Dean of Admissions, explains the reasons for the changes: "We wanted to be sure applicants had the space needed to be able to explain not just what activities or groups they want to be involved in, but why they want to be involved with them. So take advantage of the additional space!" Additionally, the 25 random things essay now comes with a word limit of 750 words.

Fuqua continues to require one LOR. You may also submit one optional LOR.

Reapplicants can replicate their application from last year, but they can update any information they like. Reapplicants also have the option of submitting one or two new letters of recommendation if they wish.

Application Deadlines

Round Deadline Interview Decision Final Decision
Early Action Sept 2, 2021 Sept. 20, 2021 Oct. 14, 2021
Round 1 Oct. 11, 2021 Nov. 8, 2021 Dec. 15, 2021
Round 2 Jan. 5, 2022 Feb 2, 2022 Mar 16, 2022
Round 3 Mar. 24, 2022 Apr. 7, 2022 Apr. 29, 2022

*International applicants should apply in EA, Round 1, and Round 2 to allow time for visa processing.

Essay Questions

You'll need to provide your thoughts on one short essay, and two longer essay questions as part of your application.

Instructions for All Written Submissions:

  • Responses should use 1.5-line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
  • Do not repeat the question in the document you upload with your application.
  • Respond fully and concisely.
  • Length requirements vary by the question and are detailed below.
  • Responses must be completed before submitting your application.

All submissions are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in the admissions process.

Here is MER's analysis of the essay questions:

Required Short Answer Question

Instructions: Answer the following question in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first-choice career plan and your alternate plan. (500 characters, or about 100 words)

For this question, you will elaborate on your post-MBA career goals and alternate plans if your first-choice plans do not materialize. First, please identify the position you hope to hold immediately after MBA, specifying role, position, industry, and 1-2 organizations/ companies you want to work for. Then, articulate your goal and explain why this goal is exciting and important to you. Please note that your post-MBA plan should show a logical progression from your current skill set and the skills and knowledge you would acquire through an MBA degree. Also, make sure that your goals are ambitious as well as realistic.

Then think about your plan B. Duke admits that 'life is full of uncertainties, and you may come across situations that might prevent you from realizing your post-MBA goals. So, you must be prepared for plan B. Please make sure that your alternative career path is not an altogether different path that will not allow you to leverage your skills and experience to the fullest. It should be in alignment with your experience, skills, and knowledge gained from your MBA education.

First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself

The 'Team Fuqua' spirit and community is one of the things that sets the MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. Please share with us "25 Random Things" about you. The Admissions Committee wants to get to know YOU - beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.

Your list will be limited to 2 pages (750 words maximum).  Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be brief, while others may be longer.

The first longer response question, the iconic 25 random things about applicants, is Duke's favorite for many years. It is my favorite, as well. For years, I have enjoyed working with applicants on this question as it offers me a glimpse into the 'fun' side of their personalities. As stated in the essay prompt, the purpose of this question is to get to know you–beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. This means that the admission committee wants you to share with them your 'important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps them understand who you are as a person. Thus, the purpose of this essay is to show the admission committee your multidimensional personality.

Over the years, I have noticed that the candidates initially find this question a little daunting and are tempted to discuss their professional accomplishments. However, when they dig deeper and begin brainstorming ideas about unique and exciting things about themselves, and the unique personal experiences that have made them who they are, they start enjoying 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 them.

Please note that the word 'random' allows you to include little fun things you have done or are doing in your day-to-day life, your hobbies/ habits, adventure activities that have become an integral part of your personality. The unique component of this essay question is the "fun" part of it. So you don't need to get too serious about yourself. Feel free to share something about you that draws your reader in. Also, please resist the temptation of outlining your accomplishments, career goals, or leadership experiences because this is NOT what the Admission Committee seeks to know about you through this question. For ideas, you may refer to the following examples on Duke Website:

Examples of "25 Random Things"

Bottom Line: Be Yourself

Second Required Essay: The Fuqua community and you

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 the development of leaders. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are 3 ways you expect to contribute at Fuqua?

Instructions: Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum)

This essay is primarily about your contribution to the school. Duke emphasizes significantly how their students will make their community more productive. Hence for this question, you must 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. In addition to understanding the school's resources (curriculum, faculty, clubs, organizations, and student activities) through the website, you should reach out to alumni and current students to gain additional insights into the school's culture and resources.

Please note that it is vital to support your claims about your potential contribution to specific clubs and organizations by providing specific examples from your past experiences- personal, professional, or community engagement - in the given area. To demonstrate your 'fit' with the program, you must showcase what you have accomplished and how you will be a solid contributor to Duke as a student and an alumnus.

Allison Jamison's advice: "Our second essay will still ask you about how you plan to engage with the Fuqua community, but we would like you to limit it to the three most meaningful ways you expect to engage as a student. While there are so many opportunities available, one of the first skills you must develop as a student is how to prioritize what's most important to you."

Optional Essay: Tell us more

If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Information section is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your circumstances only.

Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).

As instructed in the essay prompt, submit the optional essay only if you must 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 cannot 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 is best to skip this question and focus only on the required three essays.

Re-applicant Essay

It is not uncommon for it to take more than one try to achieve a goal. Please share with us the self-reflection process that you underwent after last year's application and how you have grown as a result.  How did it shape your commitment to Fuqua and inspire your decision to reapply?

Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).

This is a straightforward re-applicant essay. Through this question, the Ad Com would like to know that your need for the  Duke MBA is as strong as it was last time. Hence you should demonstrate your continued interest in Duke Fuqua by explaining how you have enhanced your application since you applied last time. You may answer this by focusing on the areas you have improved upon since you applied last. Whether you have taken extra classes, boosted your GMAT score, received a promotion, led a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on a personal challenge, the key here is to demonstrate that you are now a better and a stronger candidate since your last application. Your conscious efforts to strengthen your profile and to work on your weak areas to be a  perfect fit for Duke will prove how determined you are to be a valuable part of the Fuqua community.

Since you are allowed 500 words, you can provide a detailed account of enhancements in your resume and additional steps you have taken to learn more about the school and your 'fit' with the school’s culture.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

MER Students Share their Success Stories

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2021-22

Case Studies

AIGAC Virtual Conference 2021: MER's Key Takeaways

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs, including Duke. (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.