Posted on November 29, 2020

Tuck MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines: 2020-21


Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, the  Tuck School of Business is one of the most popular elite MBA programs. It is a difficult task to secure a seat in its small batch.  This year, the Tuck admissions team has fine-tuned one of the four criteria the school uses to evaluate applicants. The criterion 'Encouraging' replaces last year's "Nice." Amy Mitson, Director of Admissions Recruitment and Marketing,  explains, "We've evolved this criterion from 'nice' to better describe how Tuck students conduct themselves." The other three criteria remain the same- smart, accomplished, and aware.

Application Deadlines:

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has made some changes for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Prospective MBA students will now have a fourth, rolling round deadline in late spring 2021.

Round Application Due Decision Released
Round 1 September 28, 2020 December 10, 2020
Round 2 January 4, 2021 March 18, 2021
Round 3 March 29, 2021 May 6, 2021
Rolling Deadline April 1-June 1, 2021 May 10-July 1, 2021
Round 1 Consortium* October 15, 2020 December 10, 2020
Round 2 Consortium* January 5, 2021 March 18, 2021

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. EST

There is no change in Essay Questions for Dartmouth Tuck this year.


Let's take a closer look at the essays:

Essay 1: Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck? (300 words)

This essay asks applicants to explain their reasons for pursuing an MBA, from Tuck, in particular. Be aware of the four attributes listed in admission criteria; a strong essay will demonstrate an awareness of why you think an MBA from Tuck MBA will help you achieve your goals.

Begin your essay with a brief career history focusing on your career progression and the skills and knowledge you acquired at each job position. Explain what skills you lack, what knowledge gaps you have, and how an MBA will fill those gaps and propel you to your career goals.

To answer the second part of the question, explain why an MBA from Tuck is your best bet at this time. Do your homework and demonstrate your thorough knowledge of the school's curriculum, faculty, special programs, and extracurricular activities and explain how you will use them to achieve your professional and personal goals. Also, please mention how your interactions with Tuck's alumni and students have offered you valuable insights into the school's culture and offerings. Describe why you believe that an MBA from Tuck is the next logical step to fill the gaps in your career and bring you closer to the fulfillment of your goals. Specific comments about Tuck MBA will show the admission committee that you have researched the program and have a fair understanding of what you seek to achieve at Tuck.

Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid,  Luke Anthony Peña,  advises: "This essay maps to our "aware” criterion, so before you start reflecting and writing, review what being aware means at Tuck. The question itself has two parts. We hope you’ll devote roughly half the essay to why an MBA is right for you, and the other half to why Tuck is right for you. One other quick note: since you’ve stated your short- and long-term goals elsewhere, you don’t need to use valuable word count restating them here. We read each application in its entirety, so you can assume the person reading your application has already seen your goals before reading your essay. Some of you may choose to use this essay to elaborate on goals, while others might make your case for an MBA and Tuck without explicitly referencing your goals. Either way, consider this essay a supplement to your goals rather than a recitation.”

Essay 2: Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are. (300 words)

Through this essay, the admission committee wants to know who you are as a person and how your individuality will enrich Tuck. To brainstorm ideas for the essay, you need to reflect on your character, values, and beliefs. Dig deep into your own experiences/ accomplishments to determine what matters to you, what drives you and motivates you, and how your personality will make you a good fit with Tuck’s culture. To learn more about your attributes, you can also ask your family and friends. It would help if you could pick one or two examples from your past experiences to demonstrate your ability to contribute to the Tuck community. To understand the school’s culture, you may reach out to the current students and alumni and learn about their experiences and insights into the school.

Tuck seeks students who are Smart, accomplished, aware, and encouraging. Your transcript and test score highlight you are  ‘smart’ ( intelligent) and your resume show you are ‘accomplished.’ Essays #1 and #2 will showcase how ‘aware’ you are of Tuck’s offerings and culture and how you will add to its fabric-personally and professionally.

Luke Anthony Peña’s Advice: "We want you to confidently bring your whole unique personal self, including your strengths and growth areas, to Tuck. We also hope you appreciate how this extraordinary community is a tapestry of the collective individuals therein, and adding to it means choosing to consistently engage…..we hope your response is honest, revealing, and deeply personal - one you and only you could have written!”

Essay 3: Tuck students invest generously in one another’s success even when it is not convenient or easy. Share an example of how you helped someone else succeed. (300 words)

Tuck students are ‘encouraging.’ This essay is a great place to show you are a team player. If you are willing to help others, this essay provides you an opportunity to showcase that quality. You may use this essay to demonstrate your ‘fit’ with the school’s close-knit culture, where everyone knows everyone.

Think about times when you had mentored someone or have volunteered to help someone succeed even when it was not convenient for you. It is easy to be nice and helpful to a person who is your equal or superior and can return your favor. But it is difficult to invest your time in the success of a person who is not in a position to help you in any way. Think of those times when you did that and carefully choose the experience that left an impact on that person and in turn, made you a better team player. The person you helped maybe your junior, a team member, a new hire, or someone in need. You have the option to choose a personal or professional story.

As always, we recommend using the STAR method. Answering the following questions will help you  create an effective response:

What was the situation (S)? What challenges did you face (T)? How did you deal with them (A)? What was the result (R)? How was the experience of helping that person and how helping him/her succeed was meaningful to you? Did you learn any lessons during that experience? While recounting your experience, it is essential to share your thought process that motivated your actions.

Luke Anthony Peña’s Advice: The emphasis on “even when not convenient or easy” is intentional. We hope to see evidence that your investment in others is not routine, common, or entirely expected. The best examples have considerable stakes, and perhaps even legitimate risk.”

For more advice from Tuck, click here.

To meet the stringent 300 words limit of these essays, make every word count

Optional Essay: Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere (e.g., atypical choice of evaluators, factors affecting academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (300 words)

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give relevant information to the Ad Com that you could not provide in other parts of your application, essays, and resume. For example, if you have a lower than average GMAT score, any grades below a 'C' on your transcript, academic probation, or a significant employment gap, you can explain in this essay. To provide a context for a weakness in your profile, make sure your reason is genuine to convince the Ad Com that your low grades or employment gap occurred due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control. Your response should be positive, straightforward, and fact-focused and should not sound like you are making excuses for a weakness in your profile. Also, if you cannot get your reference letter from your current supervisor, please explain that in the optional statement.

Reapplicant Essay: How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (300 words)

This is a straightforward re-applicant essay. If you are a re-applicant, you need to illustrate that you have grown and evolved since the last time you applied. Through this question, the Ad Com would also like to know that your need for the Tuck MBA is as strong as it was last time. Hence you should demonstrate your continued interest in Tuck by explaining how you have enhanced your application since you applied last time.

The school asks re-applicants to comment on ways they have grown personally and professionally. For example, if you have improved your GMAT,  received promotions,   gained more clarity on your goals, or if you have taken new quantitative classes or certifications,  or any additional steps to learn more about the school and your 'fit' with the school’s culture,  this is the place to share that information. You may mention any meetings you have had with alumni/ professors/ad com or any information session you have attended that gave you more clarity about the program's offerings. Your conscious efforts to strengthen your profile and to work on your weak areas will prove how determined you are about your Tuck MBA.

Lastly, and most importantly, you should use the feedback you received from the school on your previous application and focus specifically on those areas e.g., clarity of goals and improved essays with clarity of message

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 Tuck. (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.