Posted on August 19, 2019

Wharton MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines: 2019-20


The University of Pennsylvania's, Wharton School once again asks applicants to write two essays for the 2019-20 application season. Last year, Wharton introduced a new question for its second essay but has reduced its length limit for the second question by 100 words for this cycle. The reapplicants also have to write an additional required essay along with an optional essay.

The admission deadlines and timeline are as under:

Application Deadlines:


Round Application Deadline Interview Invitations Decisions
Round 1 September 17, 2019 October 29, 2019 December 18, 2019
Round 2 January 7, 2020 February 13, 2020 March 26, 2020
Round 3 April 1, 2020 April 16, 2020 May 8, 2020

For more information about applying for the Wharton MBA, visit the Wharton admission website.

Wharton has an innovative approach to student life. From Wharton's admission website,"Student life is incredibly rich at Wharton. We have a renewed focus on the community, so you build strong friendships and networks while maintaining the vast resources of a large, world-class university in the vibrant city of Philadelphia." You can visit the campus or their website, to learn about the culture at Wharton. Knowing about the specific culture of Wharton would benefit you largely in the admission process.

The Admissions Committee wants to get to know you on both professional and personal levels. We encourage you to be introspective, candid and concise. Most importantly, be yourself.

Here is MER’s analysis of Wharton’s essays:

Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

Although this essay is a classic career goals essay, the expectation of the admission committee sets it apart. You have to think of a bigger picture, that is, and in a mere 500 words, you not only have to explain your short term and long term goals and the broad impact you hope to have on your industry, community, or country but also have to illustrate how the skill set and experience acquired at Wharton will help you fill the gap between your present career and your long term goals. Please note that the focus of this essay should not be on your professional history and key accomplishments, but on your career objectives and your ‘fit’ with the program.

Though the essay doesn’t ask about your professional history, I suggest providing a brief account of your key professional experiences that have kindled your ambitions and given you the clarity regarding your goals. Explain what you hope to achieve professionally both in the short term and then in the long term. Then share your present mindset and explain why an MBA at this stage in your career will bring you closer to your goals. You need to do a self-critique of your weak points and highlight how the MBA experience can help cement them. The thought here is to demonstrate self-awareness and resolve to look for solutions. Try to showcase how a business school can abet you in overcoming your weaknesses and filling gaps in your skillset.

Then explain how an MBA from Wharton will help you fill those knowledge gaps and how the resources and experiences at Wharton will support your goals. You can do this by conveying to the admission committee that you understand the Wharton community and what the school offers. Outline how you fit into the diverse Wharton community. Be specific here, and don't forget to demonstrate the fact that you have a fair understanding of the various resources and offerings at Wharton that aligns with your goals. Including specific information from your Wharton research and linking it to your goals and values is the key here. For instance, you could talk about how unique educational opportunities, culture, activities, student clubs and organizations, rich and flexible curriculum, and the learned faculty at Wharton can be a pathway for your goals. The bottom line is making a case for Wharton.

Essay 2: Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (400 words)

The admission committee is looking for candidates who can make an impact while being in Wharton and later at work while pursuing their goals and in their respective communities. To begin with, pick any area from your personal or professional life, an experience where you made a significant impact on your organization or people or community. Explain what challenges you faced and how you dealt with those challenges and eventually succeeded in making an impact. You must share the learnings you gleaned from the experience. As always, I suggest following the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to detail out your experience.

In the second part of the essay, explain how the Wharton community can benefit from your experience. Your contribution should directly stem from the lessons you learned from that experience. You need to show to Ad com what you will bring to the table as a student and as a valuable alumnus. For instance, you overcame stress at work by learning meditation or yoga, and now you could take classes and help fellow students to overcome stress. Wharton values teamwork and diversity and wants a student group that can support each other. So don't forget to mention how you will also gain in this process.

How to organize this essay:

Impactful experience or accomplishment – 100-150 words
Learnings from experience – 75-80 words
Contribution to Wharton – 200 words

Required Reapplicant Essay / Optional First-time Applicant Essay

Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). First-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

Wharton is inviting reapplicants to reflect on their candidacy. If you are a reapplicant, you need to illustrate here that you have grown and evolved since the last time you applied. Discuss your enhanced professional qualifications, improved records, and efforts made to familiarize yourself with the culture at Wharton, or/and any effort that you have made to strengthen your candidature. For example, if you have improved your GMAT, have received promotions, have gained more clarity on your goals this time, or if you have taken new quantitative classes or certifications, share that information in this essay. Since the word limit is 250 words, it is advisable to give a crisp, straight jacket account of areas you have improved upon.

First-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

‘Addressing extenuating circumstances’ means that you should address the weakness, if any, in your application. Your response should be brief, without making any excuses. Here you may address a weakness in your profile, such as education gap or employment gap, lack or growth at work, or low GPA or GMAT. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality. For example, if you are discussing your employment gap, you may explain that you did something productive during that period, such as traveling, volunteering or handling a family medical emergency.

For more information, please visit the Wharton MBA Admissions Blog.

To meet the stringent word limits, you need to be extremely precise in presenting your case and make every word count.

You may also be interested in Wharton admit Mansi’s video interview and a webinar wherein she discussed in detail about the factors that contributed to her success at the top 5 MBA programs.

Free Resources:

10 Key Essay Tips with Examples
Essay Analysis of Other Tops Programs- 2019-20
25 Video/Chat Interviews of Successful MER Students

Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into top 20 MBA programs including Wharton .(Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

You may email Poonam at with questions about your Wharton application.

Web /Blog/ Free resources