Harvard MBA Business School

Stanford MBA Class Profile and Essay Questions

With an acceptance rate of just over 6 percent, Stanford GSB is the toughest business school on earth to get into. It's also in many ways the best.

Every class I teach, I ask my students, "If you get admitted to both Harvard and Stanford this year, which school do you think you'll choose?" Almost always, the majority of hands go up for Stanford. If you don't understand why, you need to do your homework before applying to grad school.

"Essays help us learn about who you are rather than solely what you have done. Other parts of the application give insight to your academic and professional accomplishments; the essays reveal the person behind those achievements.

"When writing your essays, our best advice is simple: answer the question. Resist the urge to “package” yourself into what you think Stanford wants to see. Doing so will only prevent us from understanding who you really are and what you hope to accomplish. The most impressive essays are the most authentic."

Stanford GSB Admissions Office

Essay Questions (2020)

There are two questions for the Class of 2020:

We request that you write two personal essays. The personal essays give us glimpses of your character and hopes. In each essay, we want to hear your genuine voice. Think carefully about your values, passions, aims, and dreams prior to writing them.

Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to:

  • Do some deep self-examination, so you can 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.
  • Write from the heart, and illustrate how a person, situation, or event has influenced you.
  • Focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Enlighten us on how earning your MBA at Stanford will enable you to realize your ambitions.

  • Explain your decision to pursue graduate education in management.
  • Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.
  • If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.


Your answers for both essay questions combined may not exceed 1,150 words (1,200 words if you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs). Each of you has your own story to tell, so please allocate these words between the essays in the way that is most effective for you. Below is a suggested word count, based on what we typically see.

Suggested Word Count
Essay Suggested Length
Essay A 750
Essay B 400
Essay B (if applying to both the MBA and MSx programs) 450

Stanford MBA Class Profile
1 Median GMAT Score 737
2 Average GPA 590 - 790
3 Total Applicants 8,116
4 Number of Students 417
5 Median Work Experience (Years) 4
6 Work Experience Range 0 - 13
7 Median GPA 3.73
8 Average TOEFL 112

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines
Round Deadline Notification
1 September 19, 2017 December 14, 2017
2 January 10, 2018 March 29, 2018
3 April 4, 2018 Mid May 2018