The Villanova School of Business takes a rather traditional approach with its application essays, posing two questions that together cover several main elements of a standard personal statement (which at one time was a very common MBA application submission). The school wants to understand why you feel you need an MBA to progress in your career and why you believe Villanova is the best place for you to earn the degree and have your business school experience. As a first step, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which outlines in detail how to approach these topics in an application essay (and includes illustrative examples), and we offer more Villanova-specific advice in our analysis, which follows.
Villanova 2023–2024 Essay Tips
Question #1: At the Villanova School of Business, we are committed to providing a learning experience that equips students with the skills to innovate, adapt and lead in a complex professional environment. Our MBA program is designed to hone and refine both hard and soft skills in an effort to arm students with the tools they need to achieve their professional goals. With that in mind, please discuss a skill you would like to either improve or acquire throughout the course of our program. (Essay responses are limited to two-pages double-spaced.)
This essay prompt includes a fair bit of preamble, though the school’s core question is really just “Why do you need an MBA?” To be effective, your response needs to fulfill three key criteria. The first is that the skill you “would like to … improve or acquire” is relevant to your career goal and necessary for you to develop to be successful in your target future role. Next, the skill obviously needs to be one that only a business school experience can provide—otherwise, you would not be making a very strong argument for needing to pursue an MBA program. And of course, Villanova must offer courses, events, experiences, faculty members, and/or other resources that would allow you to gain or strengthen that specified skill. This last criterion demands that you educate yourself well on everything the school’s MBA program has to offer. Go beyond its website and viewbook, and contact students and alumni directly, read student blogs, peruse discussion boards, catch up on the past year or more of the school’s press releases, spend some time on its YouTube channel—these are all good places to start (or better, continue!) educating yourself about what the Villanova School of Business is really like.
Although the central component of the prompt here is the skill you wish to attain or improve, you will also need to share what your professional goals are so that the admissions committee has the proper context for evaluating your response. Even if you have noted your goals elsewhere in your application, you should not assume that the admissions representative who reads your essay will have necessarily read that part of your application also (or would readily remember it, if they had). You want anyone who encounters your essay to understand where you hope to go in your career, what you must learn or develop to get there, and why you need an MBA—and specifically one from Villanova—to make your goals reality. Remember to keep the greatest focus on your selected skill, though, and to clearly explain why it is pivotal to your desired career and how you anticipate acquiring or enhancing it via the program.
Question #2: There are many factors present in the Villanova School of Business (VBS) community, which can also provide insight into the type of students who would flourish at VSB. Some of those qualities include intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, global awareness, an open mind and a creative spirit. Thinking about your research into our program and community, why do you feel Villanova is the best fit for your MBA experience? (Essay responses are limited to two-pages double-spaced.)
To effectively answer this question, as with the previous one, you will need to research all aspects of Villanova and the MBA experience it offers, from its resources and community to its extracurriculars and location. Generic claims and empty pandering have no place at all in this essay. The admissions committee wants to know that you are enthusiastic about what Villanova has to offer and that you understand exactly how and why it would fulfill your needs better than any other school. Note that the prompt mentions fit with its overall “MBA experience,” not just its academic or professional components, so be sure to explore and discuss extracurricular opportunities and characteristics as well. The elements of Villanova that you reference must be specific to your particular interests, character, style, and goals (both personal and career related), and the connections between them must be made very clear. Be authentic about what draws you to the school, and explain how you expect to gain and grow through the opportunities available there and benefit from the overall experience.
Supplemental Essay(s): You will also have the opportunity to upload any supplemental essays you wish to include as part of your application
Interestingly, Villanova allows, if not invites, you to submit additional essays of any kind, if you would like. And not just an essay, singular, but essays, plural. We caution you, however, against seeing this as an opportunity to upload every strong essay you wrote for a different program here. Admissions officers are extremely busy people, and asking them to spend time doing additional work to assess your application is not something you should do without serious thought and a very good reason. Show that you have good judgment and be thoughtful about how (and whether) you take advantage of this option.
That said, if you have anything in your profile that could be considered confusing or problematic, such as a gap in your academic transcript or work experience, a low GPA or GMAT/GRE score, an unusual choice of recommender, or a disciplinary or legal incident, this would be the perfect place to address it. Clarify for the admissions committee the story behind the issue. For help doing so, we encourage you to download a free copy of our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on how to approach and write this kind of optional essay, including multiple examples.
The other condition under which you might want to upload an additional essay here is if you have something in your candidacy that would help you stand out and/or contribute in a special way to the Villanova community—perhaps a unique background, skill, experience, or accomplishment—especially if you have already discussed this effectively in an essay for another school and can therefore easily provide it. (Before rushing to do this, though, make sure to remove any references to the other program!) If you do not feel that Villanova’s two required essays allow you to share enough about yourself and your story for the admissions committee to evaluate you fully and fairly, this would be your chance to fill in the missing pieces. But focus on being direct and succinct so that you convey your intended information without placing undue burden on the admissions readers.