2020 Duke Fuqua Full-Time MBA Essay Questions – Class of 2023
Duke Round 2 has now passed. Round 3? Not really recommended here, but we won’t say not to try if you’re able to show how you’re distinctive!
Good news: Duke’s essays should actually be FUN! Our SnarkStrategies Guide for Duke can help you start to figure out what works well for these questions.
FIRST: One very straightforward short-answer question — only 500 characters though, and they’re asking for 2 separate things!
What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan.
Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B” for your career goals. For every other application, you’ll want to focus on just one set of goals.
NEXT, two essays
- Essay 1: 25 Random Things [A very involved preamble, then:] [T]he Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
- Essay 2: [Another paragraph, then:] Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are 3 ways you expect to contribute at Fuqua?
Duke now has length limits: No more than 750 words for the 25 Random Things, and no more than 300 words for Essay 2. They say no smaller than 10 point font but hey, we say live a little, you can even go to 12-point right?!?
See the full set of Duke’s requirements around essay length and formatting and the questions in their entirety as posted on the Duke application website .
The main change for the Class of 2023? In Essay 2, they are really doubling down on the request that you be specific. They are asking for three things, whereas prior versions of this prompt were more generic in what they invited you to discuss.
Three things only — and make them concrete. This is asking for contribution.
Duke was the first to start with this type of “culture/community” question many years back. In recent seasons, schools as varied as Wharton and MIT have also asked somewhat similar questions. Tuck also puts a very high value on community engagement. So, a similar approach may work for some of these, but you’ll be writing each essay from scratch!
Duke and Standardized Tests
Duke now will accept the Executive Assessment for any applicant to the Daytime MBA (no prior approval required, as was previously the case here). Does it make sense to submit with the EA instead of the GMAT or GRE? Well sure, if you already took the EA, then especially right now in the complicated environment of trying to complete a standardized test during a pandemic… go with the test you have! Typically we see the GMAT as being a preferred test for many applicants still, but it’s very much dependent on the entirety of your profile and what the test score does to highlight strengths for you.
Our Duke MBA Application Guide has been updated for 2020 — learn the best way to approach your 25 Things and what the Duke Fuqua admissions committee looks for in a solid set of career goals, and learn everything else about setting yourself up for success with this perennial favorite bschool.
Duke Fuqua MBA recommendationsDuke has its own set of recommender questions — they’re similar to what other schools ask, but not identical.
Duke requires one recommendation, preferably from a business context so the recommender can talk about your professional experiences. They also allow you to submit a second recommendation. EssaySnark suggests you do so! Giving the adcom more to evaluate is always a good idea when it’s allowed. Just make sure your second recommender gives substantive comments that offer a new perspective or different angle than your primary recommender can do.
These are the main questions that Duke has recommenders answer:
- How do the applicant’s performance, potential, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? [many schools ask recommenders to answer this question or a similar one]
- What do you perceive as the applicant’s areas for growth? [few schools ask this, at least not in this way]
- Describe the applicant’s awareness of these areas and his/her response to constructive feedback.
This is a situation where our Recommenders Instructions Sets can be quite valuable!
Duke Daytime MBA Deadlines – Class of 2023
- Early Action (binding):
September 23, 2020
- Round 1:
October 20, 2020
- Round 2:
January 7, 2021
Duke has four rounds total (Early Action, plus three numbered rounds). Because Duke had become somewhat less popular in the past several years, there was more opportunity lately to make it in later in the season. However, we are seeing that the current 2020-2021 admissions cycle has been quite competitive. Duke wouldn’t be offering a Round 3 if they didn’t expect to be making admissions then, however we are nervous about recommending anyone try so late. Not impossible, but not the easiest plan to execute on successfully! Try for EA, Round 1, or Round 2 if you possibly can.
If you’re an international applicant, Duke actively discourages applying after Round 2 due to visa issues (in past years, they wouldn’t even accept apps from international candidates past January). Our Late Season Targets service is a quick-hit assessment to help you set a strategy if you’re trying for end of the season.
Check out the Duke Essay Guide to learn more on rounds, interviewing, and multi-school strategies for applying to Duke Fuqua’s MBA program!
Interviewing at Duke
OLD POLICY – now superseded:
As of June 2020 when Duke has announced its application requirements for the Class of 2023, they apparently are sticking with their standard requirement for certain Early Application applicants to travel to campus for the interview. This is really hard to defend. 🙁
We’re listing out the information below that we understand to be in place for the coming MBA application season — but this policy is nuts. Duke seems to be concerned about declining application volumes, and yet they are holding fast to these policies? Not really sure what’s up with this.
Duke has two phases of interviews: the Open Interview Period when they make in-person student interviews available to applicants who come to campus, and the By-Invitation Interview Period where only adcom-invited applicants are interviewed.
In the era of reduced travel due to coronavirus, then with the Open Interview Period and Early Action admissions, Duke won’t be requiring anyone come to campus, so it’ll be up to you if you want to have an in-person interview. [EssaySnark was apparently wrong about that. UPDATE! THEY’VE CHANGED THEIR MINDS! THIS IS NOW HOW THE POLICY WILL WORK AT DUKE.]
So basically: If you’re interested in Duke, you’ll need to plan for an in-person interview, either on campus in Durham, or with an admissions rep when they travel the world at designated times during the admissions round. <-- NO LONG TRUE (WHEW!) EssaySnark stuff about Duke
- ($) If this is your Rd 1 list – Tuck, Duke, Kellogg – read on. (July 2016)
- Firsthand experiences on Tuck, Kellogg and Duke, from a military candidate (July 2016)
- Queries from a concerned BSer: “EA/ED vs a fave school. Worth the risk?” (March 2014)
- Timing your Duke campus visit (July 2013)
- Duke Early Action and scholarship money (July 2013)
- What do you want to do with your life? (December 2010)
We’ve reviewed a number of Duke essays on the blahg:
- essay critique: Duke essay 2, What do you tell your friends? (March 2014)
- essay critique part 2: Duke “friends and family reasons” continued (March 2014)
- Crowd-sourcing an essay critique for Duke (November 2011)
- Duke’s main essay: What do you tell your family, friends and colleagues? (October 2012)
The Duke adcom looks for the same strong career goals and personal angles as Ross and other schools, so check these reviews out for some additional guidance:
For Reference: Duke’s Past-Season MBA Essays & Analysis
Duke has kept nearly the same essays and requirements for many years running.
Click to view past-year info (2016-2019)
For the Class of 2022 admissions, Duke again kept its application requirements mostly the same as they’ve been for years and years, with some differences in their short-answer questions. That’s kinda good…. because these are solid questions, and they’re excellent opportunities for you to share something meaningful with the adcom! But it just feels that Fuqua has stagnated.
Not changing stuff is kinda disappointing, given how all the other schools have been working so hard to innovate. It could be said that Duke was an early adopter of the more innovative form of bschool essay, with their 25 Random Things list, and we do concede that that’s a great question which applicants tend to have fun with, and which can reveal a lot about a person. But…. keeping the status quo is kinda communicating that Duke is fine with how things are going, and it just seems like they’re a little bit stalled out right now. Granted, they hit #3 on the BusinessWeek rankings in 2016, so who is the ‘Snark to say?
Good news: Duke’s essays should actually be FUN! If there is such a thing as “fun” when it comes to writing essays. 🙂 That doesn’t mean they’ll be easy! Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B” for your career goals. For most other applications you’ll want to focus on just one set of goals.
Anyway, here are those questions:
Duke 2019 MBA Essay Questions
There’s a lot of writing with a Fuqua MBA app! But good news: Duke’s long essays should actually be FUN! If there is such a thing as “fun” when it comes to writing essays. 🙂 That doesn’t mean they’ll be easy but at least you won’t feel like you’ve been stifled, as is a common experience with BSers struggling to fit in answers for many other schools. Our 2019 SnarkStrategies Guide for Duke is a smart place to begin.
FIRST: Two straightforward short-answer questions — only 500 characters each though, and they’re asking for 3 separate things in only 1,000 characters!! Ugh, this is not the type of change we were hoping for. 🙁
- Why is pursuing an MBA the right next step for you?
- What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first choice career plan and your alternate plan.
NEXT, two long-form essays
- First required essay: 25 random things about yourself [A very involved preamble, then:] [T]he Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
- Second required essay: The Fuqua community and you [Another preamble about Fuqua, then:] Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community outside of the classroom?
To speak of the obvious:
They’re really generous in what they allow – but that does not mean you should take advantage of that generosity in what you submit!
We recommend not going more than perhaps 750 words at the most for each of these essays. And please please please don’t go down to 10-point font, even though they say that you can!! You can absolutely share everything you need to in a compelling fashion with a 750-word essay written in 11-point font (or heck, even 12-point!).
Duke’s second essay question is quite similar to what Wharton is asking, and it’s also got a lot of parallels with Columbia essay 2 as well as with the MIT pre-interview “mission” essay. Duke was the first to start with this type of question, so you can see how they’ve put an emphasis on culture for a long time. In 2016, Duke cleaned up the wording of the “culture/contribution” prompt, which made it easier to tackle for Class of 2019 applicants compared to what previous crops of BSers had to deal with.
Tuck also puts a very high value on community engagement. So, a similar approach may work for some of these but you’ll be writing each essay from scratch!
We’ve done lots of posts on the Duke essays over the years, so that’s an advantage, too!
[end discussion of 2016-2019 info]
Click to view 2015 questions
2015 Duke Information
Duke kept its same questions for 2015 except that they’re giving you more space in the important Career Goals short-answer questions. YAY DUKE!! Our Fuqua strategy guidecovers everything you need to know on tackling these questions and the essays.
Three short-answer questions –
just 250 characters each — NOW 500 CHARACTERS EACH! THAT’S HUGE! You’ll be able to actually pitch a complete career path now.
- What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
- What are your long-term goals?
- Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
Two essays, up to two double-spaced pages each:
You really need to read the full questions as posted on their website .
- [T]he Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.
- Choose one:
- When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful to you.
- [A very involved question asking you to understand the 6 Fuqua Values and then:] At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student.
Very minor changes to the wording of that option #2 question: They deleted the phrase “should reflect the research you have done.” Hmmm. Interesting, Duke!
For the career goals, Duke is pretty much the only school that invites you to present a “Plan B.” For most other applications you’ll want to stick with just ONE set of goals. It’s tough enough to convey those in the limited space the schools allow!! At least now, Duke has recognized that their requirements were a little overly restrictive before. You have a fighting chance this year, Brave Supplicant! You’re applying at like the best time ever. 😉
Also, that second question sure does have traces of Berkeley-Haas lingering around it! Unsurprising. Both of these schools have a distinct focus on culture, and both want you to understand what that culture is about before applying. The risk with the second option for essay 2? You could come across a little stilted if you try too hard. Check out the Duke Essay Guide to learn more.
Duke 2015 Deadlines
- Early Action (binding):
September 15, 2015(two days earlier than 2014)
- Round 1:
October 14, 2015(almost a week earlier than last year)
- Round 2:
January 5, 2016(same day as last season)
- Even though Round 3 is closed, they’re accepting apps on a rolling basis until April 25 (with decision coming on May 6 – are they saying that they would really be able to admit you in that little time?!?? we don’t suggest trying now)
[end discussion of Fuqua’s 2014 questions]
Click to view 2014 questions
2014 Duke Information
Duke won our informal Best MBA Questions contest for two years in a row (2012 and 2013) – their essay questions are awesome! We’ve therefore been thrilled that they’ve kept them exactly as they are for so long – including this year! They keep resisting the urge to make changes just because all the other schools are changing. Bravo, Fuqua! 😀
[end discussion of Duke’s 2014 application]
We’ve got the 2019 SnarkStrategies Guide for Duke available to help you craft a strong strategy for the Fuqua MBA application!