Posted on September 14, 2023

Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2023-2024


Duke Fuqua MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2023-24

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.” The essay questions for the 2023-24 application season remain unchanged from last year. Fuqua continues to require one short essay and two longer essays. Also, like in previous years, Fuqua requires only one recommendation letter and uses the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation to make the process easy for recommenders and applicants.

Application Deadlines

Round Deadline Interview Decision Final Decision
Early Action Sept. 07, 2023 Sept. 21, 2023 Oct. 19, 2023
Round 1 Sept. 28, 2023 Oct. 26, 2023 Dec. 08, 2023
Round 2 Jan. 09, 2024 Feb 02, 2024 Mar. 12, 2024
Round 3 Feb. 22, 2024 Mar. 13, 2024 Apr. 5, 2024
Round 4 Apr. 04, 2024 Apr. 19, 2024 May 10, 2024

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

Re-applicants: Reapply during Early Action or Round 1.

Essay Questions

Duke Fuqua has kept last year's essay questions. It continues to require applicants to write a short question about career goals, its iconic 25 random things essay and a contribution essay.

Fuqua continues to require applicants to submit one short answer goals essay (100 words), its iconic essay of 25 random things (750 words), and a contribution essay (500 words). Applicants can also submit an optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances (500 words).

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.

For more details on plagiarism, click here

Here is MER's analysis of the essay questions:

Required Short Answer Question

Instructions: Answer the following question in 100 words.

What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first-choice career plan and your alternate plan. (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 your MBA, specifying the role, function, 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 demonstrate a logical progression from your current skill set and the skills and knowledge you anticipate acquiring through an MBA degree. Additionally, make sure that your goals are ambitious as well as realistic.

Now, let’s think about your plan B. Duke acknowledges that 'life is full of uncertainties, and you may encounter situations that might prevent you from realizing your post-MBA goals. Therefore, it is crucial to have a plan B in place. Please ensure that your alternative career path aligns with your experience, skills, and knowledge gained from your MBA education rather than being a completely different path that would not allow you to fully leverage your skills and experience.

You may read our blog on common mistakes to avoid in goals essay.

13 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Goals Essay

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, has been Duke’s favorite for many years. It is also my personal favorite. Throughout the past 12 + 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, this question aims 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 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 personal experiences that have made them who they are, they start enjoying this process of self-discovery. I advise them to engage in 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, and adventure activities that have become an integral part of your personality. The unique aspect of this essay question is the "fun" element. So, you don't need to get too serious about yourself. Feel free to share something about you that draws your reader in. Additionally, please resist the temptation of outlining your accomplishments, career goals, or leadership experiences because this is NOT what the Admission Committee seeks to learn about you through this question. For inspiration, you may refer to the following examples on Duke's 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 primarily focuses on your contribution to the school. Duke places significant emphasis on how its students will enhance their community’s productivity. Hence for this question, you must do your homework and research the school thoroughly. You should look beyond your contribution to the classroom and explore how your involvement in clubs, organizations, and student communities will bring value to the program.

In addition to understanding the school's resources, such as curriculum, faculty, clubs, organizations, and student activities through the website, it is advisable to reach out to alumni and current students to gain additional insights into the school's culture and resources.

Please note that supporting your claims about your potential contribution to specific clubs and organizations is vital. You should provide specific examples from your past experiences, whether personal, professional, or community engagement in the relevant area. To demonstrate your 'fit' with the program, you must showcase what you have accomplished and how you will be a valuable 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, please submit the optional essay only if you need to clarify 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, are unable to obtain a recommendation from your current supervisor, or have experienced an employment gap, you may address these concerns in your optional essay. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. It's important to convey that you are aware of these areas of concern in your application and, whenever possible, have made sincere efforts to improve upon them.

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

Read our blog on 12 Reasons why you should write an optional essay.

12 Reasons Why You Should Write an Optional Essay

Reapplicant 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, reapplicant essay. Through this question, the Ad Com would like to understand if your need for the Duke MBA is as strong as it was during your last application. Therefore, you should demonstrate your continued interest in Duke Fuqua by explaining how you have enhanced your application since your last attempt. You can address this by focusing on the areas in which you have made advancements since your previous application. Whether you have taken extra classes, boosted your GMAT score, received a promotion, led a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or tackled a personal challenge, the key here is to demonstrate that you are now a better and a stronger candidate since your previous application. Your conscious efforts to strengthen your profile and to address your weak areas to be a perfect fit for Duke will underscore your determination to be a valuable member of the Fuqua community.

With a 500-word limit, you have ample space to provide a detailed account of the enhancements in your resume and the additional steps you have taken to familiarize yourself with the school and showcase your 'fit' with its culture.

You may also read our blog on 11 helpful tips to craft a reapplication strategy.

11 Helpful Tips to Craft a Reapplication Strategy

For Fuqua’s guidelines for reapplicants, click here.

Free Resources

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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 from around the world 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.