Carnegie Mellon University

MBA Application Essay Questions and Recommendation

Your essays and letter of recommendation are great ways for us to get to know you.


Below, you'll find information about our essay questions and the questions your recommender will answer, and also some guidelines and suggestions.

Required Essay

At Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School, we love to tell our story. Below is your chance to tell yours. Please select only ONE of the options below to complete the essay requirement (maximum 300–350 words).

Option #1: Carnegie Mellon University is an institution that never stops looking and moving ahead, pioneering the next way forward with technology, business and research to answer questions big and small. Personally or professionally, in what way have you been a pioneer?

Option #2: Amidst the ambiguous and unchartered nature of change, Carnegie Mellon University students and alumni rise above to envision and create. Discuss how you have anticipated change in your professional life. In what ways did you effectively collaborate to create your desired outcome?

Option #3: At Carnegie Mellon University, our difference is what we imagine for the world and how we answer its challenges. What impact have you had on the world around you?

Optional Essay

There also is an optional essay for additional information about your candidacy that you may wish to share with the admissions committee. 

Use this essay to convey important information that you may not have otherwise been able to convey. This may include unexplained resume gaps, context for recommender selection, etc.

If you are a re-applicant, explain how your candidacy has strengthened since your last application.

Letter of Recommendation

We require just one recommendation and prefer that you select someone from your professional life. Ideally, you will pick a supervisor (current or previous), but someone who can speak to your strengths at work would be best. When you complete your application, submit contact information for your recommender and we will email them with a request to submit their recommendation online.

We have partnered with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) on the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR). The Common LOR is intended to save you and recommenders valuable time by providing a single set of recommendation questions for each participating school. This allows your recommenders to use the same answers for multiple letter submissions, alleviating the workload of having to answer different questions for each school multiple times. You benefit because it makes asking for several different letters to be written on your behalf much easier. In addition, translated copies of the standard questions are available in several other languages that you can provide to your recommender as support.