The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin asks for just one relatively brief yet still revelatory essay from its applicants. Applicants are asked to write a cover letter to the admissions committee essentially making a pitch for why they want (or need) to earn a Texas McCombs MBA. Anyone with a potential problem area or unclear element in their profile can also submit an optional essay to address the issue(s). While minimal, the Texas McCombs essay still gives applicants ample opportunity to provide meaningful insight into their characters and strengths. Our more in-depth analysis of the program’s essay prompt(s) for 2023–2024 follows.
Texas McCombs Essay Analysis, 2023–2024
Essay 1: Please write an application cover letter summarizing your aspirations, qualifications, and personal and professional experiences that make you a strong candidate for the Texas Full-Time MBA program. (Limit: 500 words)
We can understand that this essay prompt might initially be intimidating for some candidates, but once we break things down for you, we hope you will feel more confident in your ability to write a strong essay in response. Along with this prompt, McCombs offers the following elaboration: “The application cover letter is a critical means of assessing an applicant’s motivation for attending the McCombs School of Business, their background and goals, and their communication and writing skills. Strong applications convey careful research on Texas McCombs and enthusiasm for the program.” In short, the admissions committee wants to know (1)what your professional path and goals are, (2) why you feel you need an MBA, and (3) why you want to earn your MBA at McCombs. These are all just basic components of a traditional personal statement that most schools ask for. Not so scary now, right?
The broad scope of this essay prompt allows you a great amount of freedom to choose and share the information you believe is most important for your candidacy. And the 500-word maximum is equal to roughly four or five short paragraphs. Basically, McCombs wants to know about your professional past, your goals, and why you need its MBA program to facilitate or accelerate your career. Be sure to relate your strengths to your professional aspirations, sharing illustrative examples. Definitely take the time to research your desired path and potential firms, if you have not done so already, to understand what is involved and the skills and qualities required.
After discussing your accomplishments along with any other elements of your profile that you feel make you a strong candidate for the Texas McCombs MBA program, strive to relate these achievements and qualities to the school’s offerings and community. Without using the actual words “why McCombs?” and “how do you expect to engage with our community?,” the school is nevertheless asking you for precisely this line of information. The admissions committee essentially wants to know what has compelled you to choose McCombs in particular for your MBA and how you will take advantage of specific resources and experiences it offers. The assumption is that something you have learned about McCombs leads you to believe that its MBA program will provide the experience, knowledge, skills, exposure, and/or other element you need to reach your goals. Likewise, something makes you feel you would fit well with the McCombs environment and be comfortable there. So what has given you that impression? All the top MBA programs want reassurance that the candidates they admit have not applied simply because of the school’s reputation or ranking but rather because they are truly excited to be a part of the community and to benefit from that specific learning experience. McCombs is not simply seeking warm bodies with which to fill its classrooms; it is striving to add to a long history of effective global business leaders and a network of alumni dedicated to the school and each other. Demonstrating your authentic interest in the program by offering concrete examples and drawing clear connections between who you want to be and what the school offers is key to crafting a compelling essay response.
If you have targeted McCombs because you feel it is the right program for you, you likely already have an idea of why that is true and how you would function as part of its community. If you do not yet have a handle on these points, you definitely need to start (now!) researching the school thoroughly, including interacting directly with students and/or alumni. Identify at least one (ideally more) resource, offering, or quality that McCombs has that is unique or that it excels in that directly relates to what you need to attain your post-MBA goals. And do not just offer a list—you must explain how the identified element(s) will fulfill particular needs for you.
As we noted earlier, this essay covers the core components of a traditional personal statement, just presented in a different form. To better prepare yourself to write your essay response, download a free copy of our Personal Statement Guide, which offers more in-depth advice on addressing these topics, along with illustrative examples.
Optional Statement: Please provide any additional information you believe is important or address any areas of concern that you believe will be beneficial to MBA Admissions in considering your application (e.g., gaps in work experience, choice of recommender, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)
We tend to believe that the best use of the optional essay is to explain confusing or problematic issues in your candidacy, and this prompt offers an opportunity to do just that. So, if you need to, this is your chance to address any questions an admissions officer might have about your profile. Consider downloading a free copy of our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on deciding whether to submit an optional essay and on how best to approach writing such a submission, with multiple examples.
However, because McCombs does not stipulate that you can only discuss a problem area in this essay, you have some leeway to share anything you think might be pivotal or particularly compelling. We caution you against trying to fill this space simply because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. Remember, by submitting an additional essay, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you need to make sure that time is warranted. If you are using the essay to emphasize something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, take this opportunity to write a very brief narrative that reveals this key new aspect of your candidacy.
To learn more about the essays for other top business schools, visit our MBA Essay Tips and Examples Resources Page.