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Wharton MBA Application Essay Questions and Tips

Maintaining its spot in the top three business schools in the world yet again, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is a dream school for most MBA applicants. The school has challenged standard business school admission norms for top schools by accepting students with GMAT scores as low as 500.

Thus, your Wharton MBA application needs more focus on the qualitative aspects than simply the quantitative ones like the GMAT score, GPA, years of work experience etc. Your letters of recommendation and MBA essays play a crucial role in convincing the Wharton admissions committee to overlook any flaw in your MBA profile.

So it’s important to share your authentic expression on your essays while concisely sharing your story as well.

Wharton MBA Essay Questions and Tips for 2020-2021

Wharton only has two mandatory essays for MBA applicants. This means you get a much smaller space to share your story as compared to schools like Kellogg which have multiple written essays and video essays.

As mentioned earlier, Wharton has accepted candidates with GMAT scores as low as 500. This means they have also rejected candidates with GMAT scores as high as 750+. This is a good example of how important your essays are for the admissions committee. This is your chance to share who you are and how your time at Wharton will be mutually beneficial.

So pay close attention to what these essay questions are trying to learn from you and then formulate your answer.

Do not, under any circumstance, try to upcycle your essay answers to any other schools to fit the Wharton MBA essay questions.

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

As straightforward as it is worded, this question is your standard career goals essay question. it requires the applicant to stick strictly to their post-MBA career goals and how Wharton along with your previous work experience, can help you achieve those.

You can use this essay to elaborate on the transferable skills you have achieved through your previous work experience and how Wharton can add to those.

Here is the storyline you need to follow throughout the answer for this essay:

1. What are your post-MBA career goals?

Detail the industry, function, or job role you wish to work in post-Wharton MBA. You can also mention the various recruiters at Wharton who hire for the job role you wish to work in.

2. What are your transferable skills from your previous work experience?

Mention all the skills you have acquired that will help you perform well in your post-MBA career. Also, provide instances when you showcased these skills in a professional setting.

3. Why Wharton?

This part is basically asking you to talk about the specific activities or opportunities that are unique to Wharton which will help you add skills or knowledge to perform better in your post-MBA role. This will also help you subtly show that you have done your research and know the Wharton MBA program well. It shows commitment to the school.

You can switch the order of these questions around but make sure you answer them all to share your complete story. However, connect the dots between these three answers as Wharton grad Jordan Mocks suggest in his blog. Make it a streamlined story for the admissions committee members.

Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

At the beginning of this blog, we talked about having a mutually beneficial relationship with Wharton. The two mandatory essays ask you to expand on the same.

You have already told the admissions committee how Wharton will help you in the previous answer. But what about how you will help Wharton?

Your contribution to Wharton can be in any form. It can be in the classroom or the school community in the form of events or clubs. To answer this question you’ll have to rely on all your networking efforts once again. Once you know the Wharton community and MBA program from the perspective of a student or a faculty member, you can use that information in this answer.

Draw information about the right events, clubs, or electives from these networking conversations and explain how you can add value to those. Since you already have a good idea of the kind of activities that the students initiate at Wharton, you could propose a guest speaker that you know your classmates at Wharton will benefit from. Or you could past experience with managing college fests and that would allow you to successfully host Networking, Social, or Philanthropic events at Wharton.

This essay is your space to tell Wharton how your presence, and existing skills, can improve the Wharton experience for your classmates as well.

Required Essay for all Reapplicants: Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

Do we need to explain this? If you were rejected in Wharton’s previous admissions cycle and are applying again, you must have improved your profile over the past year.

The right step after getting rejected by any business school is to ask for feedback from the admissions committee. They will readily walk you through things that need to be improved in your profile for the school to consider you a strong applicant.

Whether you took this necessary step after getting rejected by Wharton or not, if you’re re-applying a year later you have definitely worked on strengthening your MBA profile.

Maybe you took more initiative at work to show leadership qualities. You could have also improved your GMAT score in the past year. Did you take up any extracurriculars or get more involved with your community? On being rejected by Wharton, how did you assess your profile and work on your weaknesses?

These are the types of questions that this essay question requires you to answer.

Optional Essay: Please use this space to share any additional information about yourself that cannot be found elsewhere in your application and that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee. This space can also be used to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, areas of weakness, etc.) that you would like the Admissions Committee to consider.

If you have concerns about any area of your application, this is the place to address it.

Since the Wharton admissions committee only gets to ask questions or clear any doubts they have during the interview phase, you want to clarify any shortcomings on your profile right away as you submit your application.

Addressing your shortcomings will take the guesswork out of the scenario for the admissions committee members. If you had a Low GPA due to extenuating circumstances, the admissions committee will be able to consider them while evaluating your profile.

Thus, use this space to deal with anything in your profile that you feel might affect your chances at getting accepted to Wharton.


For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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