The 2014-2015 Stanford Graduate School of Business Application

Posted By SWatts on Jun 10, 2014 |

From The Staff of MBA
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The 2014-2015 Stanford Graduate School of Business Application

The Stanford GSB deadlines and application essays are out! This year, the Stanford application has some very notable changes from previous years. Last year, while other business schools were following the lines of “less is more”, Stanford stayed put with their tried and true application. This year, however, Stanford GSB decided to fall in line with the crowd, cutting an entire essay question and skimming their recommendation requirement from three to two.

Stanford GSB Application Deadlines

The application deadlines for the upcoming application cycle will be as follows:

Round 1: October 1, 2014

Round 2: January 7, 2015

Round 3: April 1, 2015

Essay Requirements

One of the biggest changes in this year’s Stanford application is the essay portion. Last year, Stanford required three essays with a 1600 word maximum. This year, Stanford released only two required essays with an 1100 word maximum. Although Stanford has dictated a suggested word count for each essay, it is up to the applicant to decide exactly how to allocate the words, as long as they do not exceed 1100. Applicants have the option to write one essay with 200 words and the next essay with 900 words, if they so find appropriate — or they can equally divide the word count between the three essays. As long as the total word count does not exceed 1100, applicants can regulate their essay lengths however they choose.

Below are the essay questions for the Stanford GSB 2014-2015 application.

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why? (suggested word count: 650-850 words)

A strong response to this question will:

– Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”

– Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.

– Genuinely illustrate who you are and how you came to be the person you are.

– Share the insights, experiences, and lessons that shaped your perspectives, rather than focusing merely on what you’ve done or accomplished.

– Be written from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced


Essay 2: Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions. (suggested word count: 250-450 words)

A strong response to this essay question will:

– Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.

– Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.

In looking for future members of the Stanford GSB community, the admissions committee looks for three main criteria: intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions. In Essay 1, Stanford wants to get to know what your interests and motivations are. It will be important not only to address an accomplishment or value, but what drove you to the accomplishment or to attain the value as well. The open-ended feel of the question may put some applicants aback at first, which is why it is important to self-reflect and construct an answer after a careful self-examination. Being able to articulate something deeper and more profound than a run-of-the-mill narrative is what the Stanford committee will most value.

Essay 2 drives at two key objectives: insight into applicant’s career goals, the path that led them there, and why Stanford as opposed to any other business school. To address the first part of the question, for most, what you want to do will encompass both short- and long-term goals, and explain what has caused you thus far to create those goals. Again, the admissions committee doesn’t want you to regurgitate a story that sounds nice; they want to be “enlightened” genuine insight into your goals and drives. And don’t forget to add, why Stanford? It is critical to research and understand the specific qualities and advantages of the Stanford program in order to respond to this question. Take the time to learn about what in the program is unique from other schools, and why this aspect will make a real difference in your education and experience.

Stanford will also allow applicants to submit one additional optional essay to explain any extenuating circumstances or anything that was not covered elsewhere in the application.

Letters of Recommendation

The second big difference in this year’s Stanford application is the letters of recommendations. For years, Stanford has held firm with the requirement of three letters of recommendation — until this year. This year, Stanford will only require two letters of recommendation: one mandatory professional recommendation, and a second mandatory professional or peer recommendation. This may be a tough decision for applications: would it be better to have a second recommendation written by a peer or a superior? The right answer will be case-specific, although we think that most applicants will probably go with a second professional recommendation.

Additional Application Materials

In addition to the essay requirement, Stanford requires that all applicants submit with their application a valid GMAT or GRE test score (only the highest score is required to be submitted), an unofficial transcript, a TOEFL score for applicants whose first language is not English, a resume, and a $275 application fee.