Embarking on the journey of acquiring an MBA from Columbia Business School is a dream for many aspiring professionals. To turn this dream into reality, you need to ace the application process, which includes crafting compelling essays. In this article, we provide a thorough analysis of the Columbia Business School MBA essay requirements for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. This information will equip you with the knowledge and guidance needed to create a standout application.

Front view of Uris Hall at Columbia Business School campus
Uris Hall the iconic building housing Columbia Business School symbolizes the blend of tradition and innovation in business education

Understanding Columbia Business School MBA Essays

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s understand what the Columbia Business School MBA essays are all about.

The Columbia Business School MBA essay is an integral part of the application process. Admissions committees use these essays to get to know applicants on a deeper level, beyond their academic and professional achievements. These essays offer candidates the opportunity to showcase their unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations.

What’s New in 2023-2024?

Each year, business schools update their essay requirements to align with their evolving values and goals. For the 2023-2024 application cycle, Columbia Business School has introduced some changes. It’s essential to stay updated with these alterations to ensure your application meets the current standards.

Tips for Crafting the Perfect Columbia Business School MBA Essay

Creating a compelling essay is an art. Here are some valuable tips to help you craft an outstanding Columbia Business School MBA essay:

  • Understand the Essay Prompts: Take time to comprehend the essay prompts thoroughly. This will enable you to tailor your responses effectively.
  • Show Your Authenticity: Be yourself. Authenticity is highly valued in MBA essays. Share your real experiences and aspirations.
  • Tell a Story: Essays that tell a compelling story tend to capture the reader’s attention. Use anecdotes and examples to illustrate your points.
  • Focus on Your Future: Columbia Business School is interested in your future goals and how their MBA program fits into them. Be clear about your aspirations.
  • Edit and Proofread: Ensure that your essay is well-written, free from errors, and easy to read. Edit and proofread meticulously.
Students congregating on the steps of Columbia University's Library
The lively steps of Columbia University serve as a meeting place for ideas diversity and academic engagement

Columbia Business School MBA Essay Analysis 2023-2024

Let’s delve into the specifics of the Columbia Business School MBA essay requirements for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle.

Essay 1:

Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)


This essay consists of two main components:

  1. Your Short-term Career Goals (3-5 years): In this part, the admissions committee is interested in understanding what you aspire to achieve in the immediate future. They want to know about the specific career goals you have and how an MBA from Columbia Business School will help you achieve them. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your clarity and purpose in your post-MBA career plans. You should consider your industry, function, and potential employers you are targeting.
  2. Your Long-term Dream Job: The second part of the essay prompt asks you to delve into your long-term aspirations. You’re encouraged to think big and imagine your ideal career beyond the next 3-5 years. This is where you can share your dreams, visions, and how you see your career evolving over a longer horizon. Explain what your dream job looks like and how you plan to get there. Make sure to connect your long-term aspirations to your short-term goals.

Tips for Approaching the Essay:

  1. Reflect on Your Journey: Start by reviewing your resume and recommendations. Identify the key milestones and experiences that have shaped your career up to this point. This will provide a foundation for discussing your future goals.
  2. Short-term Goals: Be specific and realistic about your short-term goals. Explain what role, industry, and responsibilities you aim for in the next 3-5 years. Discuss how your past experiences have prepared you for these goals.
  3. Why Columbia: Clearly articulate why Columbia Business School is the right place for you to achieve your short-term goals. Highlight specific resources, courses, or aspects of the school that align with your career aspirations.
  4. Long-term Dream Job: When discussing your long-term aspirations, be ambitious but also realistic. Describe your dream job and the impact you want to make. Explain how the skills, network, and knowledge gained at Columbia will help you work towards this long-term vision.
  5. Link Short-term and Long-term Goals: Connect your short-term and long-term goals. Explain how your short-term goals are stepping stones toward your long-term dream job. This shows the admissions committee that you have a well-thought-out career plan.
  6. Word Limit: Stay within the 500-word limit. Be concise and focus on the most important and relevant details. Use your words effectively.
  7. Personalization: Make your essay personal and unique to your experiences and aspirations. Avoid generic or boilerplate responses.

Remember, the admissions committee is interested not just in your career goals but also in how an MBA from Columbia Business School fits into your overall career journey. Be sincere and passionate in your response, and demonstrate how their program can help you realize your aspirations.

Columbia Business School student studying in the library
A dedicated Columbia Business School student exemplifies the focus and diligence that the MBA program instills

Essay 2:

Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)

This essay is essentially asking you to explain why you believe that Columbia Business School is the right place for you to pursue your MBA. In 250 words, you need to convey a compelling and concise argument for why you and the school are an ideal match. Here’s how you can approach this essay:

1. Research Columbia Business School: Start by researching the school thoroughly. Understand its programs, faculty, culture, values, and any unique features that make it stand out. Show that you’ve done your homework by mentioning specific aspects of CBS that appeal to you.

2. Highlight Your Personal Fit: Identify what makes CBS a good fit for your professional and personal goals. This might include its specific courses, extracurricular opportunities, geographic location, or any particular strengths that align with your aspirations. Explain how CBS can help you achieve your goals.

3. Connect with Your Background: Link your background, both professional and personal, to CBS. How does your past experience, skills, and values align with what CBS has to offer? Show how CBS can enhance your strengths and address your weaknesses.

4. Be Specific and Concise: Given the limited word count (250 words), every sentence must be purposeful. Avoid vague or generic statements. Instead, be specific and use examples to illustrate your points.

5. Reflect on Your Contribution: Don’t just focus on what CBS can offer you. Consider what you can bring to the CBS community. Highlight how your unique background, perspectives, and experiences can enrich the school and your fellow students’ experiences.

6. Proofread and Edit: Make sure your essay is well-written and free of grammatical and spelling errors. A concise essay requires precise language.

Here’s a possible structure for your 250-word essay:

  • Introduction (30-40 words): Express your enthusiasm for Columbia Business School.
  • Academic and Professional Fit (50-70 words): Discuss how CBS aligns with your educational and career goals.
  • Personal Connection (50-70 words): Explain your personal reasons for choosing CBS.
  • Contribution to CBS (40-50 words): Mention what you can bring to the CBS community.
  • Conclusion (30-40 words): Summarize your fit and enthusiasm for CBS.

Remember to personalize your essay to your unique experiences and aspirations. Show a genuine and thoughtful connection between you and Columbia Business School. 

MBA student deep in thought amidst study session in library
A contemplative moment in the life of an MBA student surrounded by the wisdom of the ages in a serene library setting

Essay 3:

Tell us about your favorite book, movie or song and why it resonates with you.  (250 words)

This essay prompt is a personal and reflective one. The admissions committee at Columbia Business School is asking you to share something about your preferences and why a particular book, movie, or song is meaningful to you. Here’s how you can structure your response:

Introduction (approximately 30-40 words): Begin with a brief introduction that mentions your chosen book, movie, or song, and why it is significant to you. You should pique the reader’s interest and make them want to learn more.

Body (approximately 160-180 words):

  1. Provide Context: Explain the background or context of your choice. When and where did you first encounter it? What was your initial impression?
  2. Artistic Elements: Discuss the specific elements that resonate with you. For a book, you could discuss the writing style, themes, or characters. For a movie, you could talk about the storyline, cinematography, or performances. In the case of a song, you can analyze the lyrics, melody, or emotional impact.
  3. Personal Connection: Share why this book, movie, or song speaks to you on a personal level. Has it influenced your perspective or inspired you in any way? Does it relate to your values, aspirations, or experiences?
  4. Impact on Your MBA Journey: If possible, relate your choice to your MBA journey and future career goals. How does your favorite book, movie, or song connect to your desire to pursue an MBA at Columbia Business School?

Conclusion (approximately 30-40 words): Summarize the key points you’ve made and reiterate why this book, movie, or song is important to you. Leave a memorable final thought for the reader.

Tips for Success:

  1. Be genuine and sincere in your response. Choose a book, movie, or song that truly means something to you.
  2. Keep it concise. The word limit is 250 words, so make every word count.
  3. Highlight your personal growth and values. Show how your choice reflects your character and aspirations.
  4. Make sure your essay is well-structured and flows smoothly.

Remember that this essay is an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you on a more personal level. It’s a chance to showcase your individuality and the qualities that make you a strong candidate for their MBA program

MBA applicant working on laptop with sunset backdrop
An MBA applicant strategizes her future illuminated by the fading light of day signifying the promise of a bright career

Optional Essay:

Is there any further information that you wish to provide the Admissions Committee? If so, use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history. This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (Maximum 500 Words)

  1. Purpose of the Essay: The purpose of this essay is to provide you with an opportunity to address any concerns or gaps in your application, such as your academic record or personal history. It is not mandatory, but it allows you to provide context or explanations where necessary.
  2. Content Flexibility: The prompt is intentionally open-ended, allowing you to address a wide range of topics. You can discuss academic concerns, personal challenges, career gaps, or any other relevant information that might not have been adequately covered elsewhere in your application.
  3. Length Limit: The essay has a maximum word limit of 500 words, but it doesn’t need to be a formal essay. You can use bullet points if you prefer.
  4. Why Use It: Use this space if you feel that there is important context or information that could strengthen your application or mitigate concerns. If your academic record has weaknesses, or if you’ve faced personal hardships that impacted your academic or professional journey, this is a chance to explain.


When responding to this essay prompt, consider the following:

  1. Be Transparent: If you’re addressing an area of concern, be honest and forthright in your explanation. Admissions committees appreciate honesty.
  2. Provide Context: Explain the circumstances surrounding the issue. If it’s an academic concern, was there a particular semester or year where your grades were impacted? If it’s a personal history concern, provide relevant details.
  3. Demonstrate Growth: If you’ve faced challenges, discuss how you’ve grown or learned from the experience. What steps have you taken to address any issues or concerns?
  4. Focus on Relevance: Ensure that the information you share is relevant to your MBA application. If possible, connect the explanation to how it has prepared you for success in business school.
  5. Professionalism: Even though this essay doesn’t need to be formal, maintain a professional and respectful tone. Avoid being defensive or making excuses.

Sample Structure:

  1. Introduction (Optional): You can start with a brief introduction explaining the purpose of your essay and what you intend to address.
  2. Main Body: This is where you provide your explanations. It can be in paragraph form or bullet points, depending on your preference.
    • Academic Concerns: If addressing academic issues, discuss the specific challenges, why they occurred, and any actions taken to improve.
    • Personal History: If discussing personal history, explain the events or circumstances that you believe are relevant to your MBA application.
  3. Conclusion (Optional): Sum up your key points and express your eagerness to join Columbia Business School.


Crafting your Columbia Business School MBA essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle is a significant step towards realizing your educational and career goals. Follow the tips and guidelines in this article to create compelling essays that showcase your unique qualities and aspirations. Best of luck with your application!

Diverse graduates from Columbia MBA celebrating with international flags
Columbia Business Schools graduation ceremony a vibrant tapestry of cultures reflecting the global perspective of the MBA program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I exceed the word limit for the essays? A: It’s advisable to adhere to the word limits. Admissions committees appreciate concise and focused responses.

Q: What should I include in my essay to stand out? A: To stand out, showcase your unique experiences, aspirations, and how Columbia Business School fits into your plans.

Q: Is there a preferred format for the essays? A: Columbia Business School doesn’t prescribe a specific format. Focus on clarity and substance.

Q: How important are the essays in the application process? A: Essays are a critical component of your application, providing insight into your personality and aspirations.

Q: Should I address any weaknesses in my application in the essays? A: If you have weaknesses, it’s advisable to address them in a constructive manner, showing how you’ve learned and grown.

Q: Are there any absolute “do nots” for the essays? A: Avoid clichés, overly technical language, or insincere flattery. Be genuine and concise.

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