Posted on August 13, 2015

Tepper Essay Questions Analysis- 2015-16

Dates & Deadlines

                          Application Deadliness           Decision Notification

Round 1         Oct. 5, 2015                                        December 15, 2015

 Round 2         Jan. 4, 2016                                      March 23, 2016

Round 3         Mar. 15, 2016                                    May 16, 2016

Round 4        May 1, 2016                                       June 1, 2016

For Tepper MBA essay questions and recommendation questions, click here.

Like last year, Tepper has asked two questions with 300-word limits. Also, they offer an optional essay if there is additional information you wish to share about your candidacy. However, unlike last year, there are no short questions this year.

The new essay prompts look almost similar to those of last season’s; The first question focuses on a defining moment and the second one on the candidate’s fit with Tepper. However, when we look at the questions closely, we find that there are subtle changes.

Let’s compare the new essay questions with the last year’s essay questions:

Question #1 (2014 -15): Describe a defining moment in your life and explain how it shaped you as a person.

Question #1 (2015 -16): Describe a defining moment in your life. How has it shaped you professionally?

Thus, instead of asking the applicants how the defining moment has shaped them “as a person,” this year’s prompt limits the impact on their professional lives.

Question #2 (2014 -15): Based on your research and interactions with the Tepper community, please share why you are a good fit with the Tepper MBA program

Question #3 (2015 -16): Based on your research and interactions, describe how your strengths contribute to the Tepper School community. How will you benefit from being a member of the Tepper School MBA program?

Even though this year’s question is also about the applicants’ fit with the program, this is a more explicit question about their strengths and their potential to contribute to the Tepper MBA program and student community. This suggests that the Ad Com expects the candidates to make a positive impact during their two years on the campus.

Let’s take a closer look at the questions for the class of 2018.

Essay 1: Describe a defining moment in your life. How has it shaped you professionally? (Maximum 300 words)

This is the third year Tepper has asked the applicants to discuss the defining moment of their lives, but the first time they have asked how it has influenced them in their professional lives. In order to identify the defining moment that has shaped you who you are as a professional, you need to do some self-reflection. It is possible that you can identify a single defining moment or experience that has impacted your personal and professional life. So you may use that experience/story. Still, you need to make sure that your focus is on the resulting professional skills you have acquired or professional decisions you have taken or the career choices you have made.   It is up to you to select your story from your personal or professional life; however, in order to present well-rounded candidacy, please make sure to touch upon that aspect of your professional life, which has not been revealed in the other essay question.

How to structure your essay?

  1. Provide details on your experience and explain when and where it happened, who was involved, what exactly happened, and in what ways it became a “defining” moment for you. (approximately 200 words)
  2. Discuss the ways this experience has influenced your professional life. While discussing the impact, please make sure to explain that this experience has made a broad impact on you, making you a more accomplished professional in terms of your leadership abilities, problem-solving, or decision-making skills.  (approximately 100 words)

In the following example, the candidate is commenting on the impact ‘his defining moment ‘has made on his professional life.


After nine months, I heard “the knock” of opportunity that summoned me to Wall Street in New York, where I currently work. Taking the biggest ever decision under unfavorable circumstances and then reaching my goals was undoubtedly a feat. That moment defined the subsequent course of my life. “

Essay #2: Based on your research and interactions, describe how your strengths contribute to the Tepper School community. How will you benefit from being a member of the Tepper School MBA program? (Maximum 300 words)

This question expects you to do your homework and gain a thorough knowledge of Tepper’s resources and offerings so you can discuss how you will benefit from the program and what value you will add to it. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the program, you should also gain some knowledge about professors, reach out to current students, and alumni, and if possible, visit the campus.

You can break down your response in two parts:

  1. Discuss your contribution to the Tepper community, i.e. your participation in on-campus activities, academic programs, class discussions, group work, etc.  Also, you should discuss in what ways you will contribute to the Tepper community as an alumnus.
  2.  Identify some personal and/or professional strengths and then comment on how these would enable you to make a positive impact on the Tepper community. You may identify 2-3 skills/talents and link each of them to a unique contribution you will make to the school.

Then explain how you will benefit from the Tepper MBA experience. That is, how an MBA from CMU matches your goals and other interests. Apart from mentioning specific courses, professors that are closely aligned to your career aspirations do not forget to comment on the student clubs, community events, and other offerings that match your other interests and skills.  Your response should showcase that you had done your homework well before you made your decision to apply to the program.

Example :

With my cultural adaptability and global perspective, I look forward to enhancing these experiences, with my fellow mates through projects and ‘International Business Association’ and embrace Tepper MBA’s value of diversity in thought, association, and purpose. With my culinary skills, I hope to ignite a passion for cooking in my peers and faculty and work towards creating a ‘Chocolate and Bakery Club’ at Tepper. Following the school’s motto “My heart is in the work”, I wish to influence the Tepper Community both as a student and an alumnus.”

You may click here to learn more about the Tepper School of Business.

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