Posted on June 17, 2020

Michigan Ross MBA Deadlines & Essay Tips: 2020-21


The Michigan Ross has announced the deadlines and essay questions for the 2020-21 MBA application season. For short-answer questions, the last years' three groups have been merged into two groups, so now the applicants will be answering two questions of 100 words instead of three questions. The career goal question remains unchanged, but the word limit had been cut down from 300 to 200 words. So, this year applicants have to use only 400 words in place of 600 words to present their candidacy to the admission committee. From 5 essay questions totaling  1700 words in 2012-13 to 2 essays of only 400 words in 2020-21 application season, Ross has come a long way in its 'less is more' requirement.'


Round Application Deadline Decision Announced
Round 1 September 14, 2020 December 2, 2020
Round 2 January 4, 2021 March 17, 2021
Round 3 March 29, 2021 May 5, 2021
Round 4 June 1, 2021 June 25, 2021



Let us take a closer look at the essay questions:

Part 1- Short-answer questions: Select one prompt from each group of the two groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or less (<100 words each; 200 words total). Every word counts here — the tight word count is intentional to force you to focus.

Group 1

I want people to know that I:

I made a difference when I:

I was aware that I was different when:

Group 2

I am out of my comfort zone when:

I was humbled when:

I was challenged when:

The purpose of these short questions is to give the admissions team valuable insight into who you are as a person and how you view yourself. Therefore, answer it in such a way that allows you to tell them what you want them to know about you. These questions require you to introspect and dig deeper for specific stories/ life experiences when you 'made a difference' or 'when you were humbled' or 'when you were challenged'. Begin your response to each prompt by completing the question. Your responses to these questions will showcase your unique personal traits- your interest as well as the impact you made, and your self-awareness (Group 1) and your humility, your experience of being out of your comfort zone (Group 2). Both the groups ask for a behavioral response, where you discuss one experience or situation and reflect on it. The key to all these responses is to demonstrate how you responded in the face of different situations and emerged a better and stronger person.

What makes these essays more challenging is the multiple-choice component? I can imagine applicants having a hard time deciding which option will paint them in a better light or which stories will reflect the traits that Ross is looking for. My advice is that you brainstorm ideas on all the 6 prompts and then evaluate which are your best 2 stories that you would want the Ad Com to know about you as a person. After you have finalized your best 2 stories, begin formulating your response, focusing on the challenges you faced, the action you took, and the impact you made. Don't forget to include your thought process behind your decisions as your thoughts and actions will provide the reader with a glimpse into your values and beliefs.

It's a challenge to discuss two different experiences in only 200 words. To meet the tight word limit, make every word count, and be as precise as you can.

Short answer questions Tips from Ross MBA Admissions Blog:

"The team has found that essays that reveal something personal- about what you value, how you think- give us much more insight into how you'll fit into the Ross culture than an accomplishment story. And, as you've probably learned, fit is an important part of our decision. (It should be an important part of yours, too). There are many other opportunities in the application to share your work accomplishments, use the essays to get personal."

Part 2- Career Goals Essay: Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this career goal the right choice for you? (200 words)

This essay focuses on short-term goals and your reasons for those goals. When explaining your post-MBA goals, make sure to be as specific as you can. Specify which industry, which company, and what position you would like to see yourself after graduating from Ross. Even if you are not 100% sure, you should be clear and decisive about your short-term goals. Though the question asks only about the short-term goal, you may still touch upon your long-term goal, but you should not elaborate on it.

Next, provide a brief account of your career history, summarizing your skills/strengths. Then go on to explain how your work experience has inspired your career plans and discuss the gap in your skillset that an MBA would fill. You don't want to discuss the 'Why Ross' part because the school doesn't want a 'laundry list' of the courses offered by Ross.

With a total of 400 only words to tell your story to the Ross admission committee, you should make every word count. There is no room for elaborate details or beating around the bush. To present a well-rounded picture of your candidacy, use 200 words (short questions) to demonstrate who you are as a person and 200 words (goals essay) to showcase who you are as a professional.

Optional Statement: Is there something in your resume or application that could use some explanation? You might want to discuss the completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

As directed in the essay prompt, you may use this essay question to address a weakness in your profile, such as employment gap, low GPA/low GMAT, completion of supplemental work, or unusual choice of the recommender. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. You may either use bullet points or essay format for the optional statement.

You may be interested in previous years' essay questions:

Ross Essay Questions Analysis- 2019-20

Ross Essay Questions Analysis- 2018-19

Ross Essay Questions Analysis-2017-18

Ross Essay Questions Analysis– 2016-17

Ross Essay Questions Analysis– 2015-16

Ross Essay Questions Analysis– 2013-14

Video interview of a Ross student: In this video interview with Poonam, Pablo shares his amazing experiences during his first year at Ross.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples

Essay Analysis of Other Top Programs-2020-21

 MER Students Share their success Stories

Case Studies

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