Duke Fuqua

Duke – Fuqua School of Business Essay Analysis 2018-2019

Last updated on August 26th, 2018

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Welcome to this article! In this article, I am going to show you what you need to do if you’re looking at applying to the Duke Fuqua MBA program 2018-19.


Let us first understand what we can about this school, especially if you’re an international applicant or if you’re applying from a country like India.


A lot of US B-Schools take their culture very seriously. If you go to the Duke website, they talk about Team Fuqua. Team Fuqua is essentially about how collaborative they are in spirit. This aspect is different from Harvard, or other larger college, which do not pride themselves for their team spirit. Fuqua has a huge advantage when it comes to demonstrating its pride of bonding. If you reach out to people who have been alums, you will see that most of them are happy to help you.


We’ve had many students from CrackVerbal joining Fuqua. In fact, every year, we’ve had one student who has gone to Fuqua. We have Mansha, who got into the program last year, and you can see her interview here.


The second big thing about the Fuqua program is the healthcare specialization; it is hard to miss. Duke Fuqua School of Business is connected to the Duke University, which has one of the best healthcare programs.


In terms of location, Duke is in North Carolina, where there is a research triangle. Thus, if you’re looking for healthcare, Duke is the place to be. However, if healthcare is not your cup of tea, don’t try to retrofit it inside your story or into your essays.


Thirdly, Duke is famous for the way the curriculum is structured. If you look at its curriculum, in the first year, the program has a lot more electives, and the actual courses are a lot shorter. It gives you the flexibility to choose a lot more electives.


By the time you complete the first year, you’re ready for your summer internship; you have the right stories in your resume, and in the interview you can express your interest by saying why you took these electives, and how you’re in a better position to do well in the job.  


In this respect, Duke Fuqua is different from other B-Schools where the first year is rigid, and you have to go through a bunch of core courses. Most of the students who apply to Duke from CrackVerbal India are looking at it as a top 10 B-School. Duke is usually ranked somewhere in the 7 to10 range, depending on which ranking you look at, be it US News, Business Week, or Bloomberg ranking.


By just looking at the data, the average age is probably slightly higher, but you really don’t have to read too much into this. The important thing is the GMAT score.


The average GMAT score ranges from  640 to 670. In my experience, students who apply to Duke have typically got in with a range of 710 to 740. You definitely need to get into the right zone which is the lower 700s, if you’re looking at realistic chances.


Now, coming to something very important. Duke is said to have an Early Action Round. The Early Action Round this year is by  the 12th of September.


What is an Early Action Round for Duke?


One of the important things about Duke is the Early Action Round. So what really is this Early Action Round?

A huge problem that many colleges whose ranking is in the 7th to 25th range  face is that many students are looking at applying to other similar schools as well.


The person who is applying to Duke is also applying to HAAS Berkeley and Darden. The metric that Duke would look at is the yield percentage, that is, the number of people to whom offers were made to how many really took up the offer. B-Schools really work on that number, they really want a high yield percentage.


So what Duke has done is that it has this binding offer. If you apply to the Early Action Round, you are really telling them that you’re  going to join them, and you won’t apply to any other school. If you are made this offer and you decide to take up this offer, you will not apply to any other B-School. You can see how it makes sense for Duke.


They have a pool of very competent people that they are admitting, and they know that these people are going to join the program.


From the student’s perspective, how will this help?


It is better than applying in Round 1 or Round 2;  you have an advantage and a probability of getting a seat. Not many schools have this advantage of an Early Action Round, but Duke has it. If Duke is the school you’re looking at, please go ahead and take this offer.


Now let’s get to the meat of it, the application process.


2018-2019 Duke / Fuqua Deadlines


Early Action

Application Deadline: September 12, 2018

Interview Notification: September 25, 2018

Decision Notification: October 19, 2018


Round One

Application Deadline: October 10, 2018

Interview Notification: November 8, 2018

Decision Notification: December 13, 2018


Round Two

Application Deadline: January 3, 2019

Interview Notification: January 31, 2019

Decision Notification: March 18, 2019


Round Three

Application Deadline: March 20, 2019

Interview Notification: April 10, 2019

Decision Notification: April 29, 2019



2018-2019 Duke / Fuqua MBA Essay Questions




Required Short Answer Questions


Instructions: Answer all 3 of the following questions. For each question, respond in 500 characters only (the equivalent of about 100 words).

What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?

What are your long-term goals?

Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?


First Required Essay: 25 Random Things About Yourself


Instructions: Present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.


The question that most of the students have is, “what do I write, and what are the possible things I can write?” 25 things is a lot to write. This is not one of those essays for which you can do an all-nighter to complete. It’s very important that you plan this essay well. What you need to do is to create the following buckets:



The first bucket should include personal information about you – It could be the place where you were born, something about your siblings, something about your parents, or something about the city in which you grew up.


I will give you a couple of examples. Some students from CrackVerbal wrote about both their parents being teachers, and how they got to understand early in life that teaching is such a noble profession. Someone spoke about their name, mentioning that the name is very interesting, and what it actually means in Sanskrit. It’s just a random fact; you don’t need to have each and every fact saying why you need to get into an MBA program. Don’t try to retrofit it. People have spoken about their siblings; one student mentioned an interesting thing saying, “we are three brothers but the eldest one is 10 years older to me, so it’s almost like he is my surrogate father.” These are some of the interesting things you can write from a personal aspect.


Then the second bucket could be hobbies, or even quirks that you have. For  example: “I like riding my bike late at night, I sometimes go on a 30 to 40 miles trip. I see that it sometimes clears up my thinking. I just go out on the road without really thinking too much, and by the time I am back I just have this moment of clarity.”


You can also talk about a particular hobby that you picked up when you were in school, maybe you are a trivia quizzer, and you like quizzing. Pick something which is interesting that you did when you were in school or college. It could also be at your work. One of my students had written this, “Whenever I look at a car registration number, I look at the four digit number, and start mentally doing the math. I see whether it is divisible by 4, and whether it  is divisible by 6, or if there is any unique combination that I can get out of the numbers” She also went on to say that this was possibly one of the reasons why she played Sudoku.


The third bucket could be things that are in relation to work, slightly more professional, maybe an NGO involvement that you have had, or something else at work, maybe something that your colleagues call you. Write anything but try not to make it into a bullet point that should go into your resume. That’s definitely a NO but you can pick something interesting from your professional life. Here is an example:


One student had written how he figured out a solution in the company, and it got them recognition and he actually had his name in the annual newsletter for the company. He said, “that was my biggest achievement in life.”  It could be about small things that you did, with great outcomes you got out of them;  something that really excited you.


The last, fourth bucket could be something internal, something that is introspective, something about you as a person.


For example, you could talk about things like:


What are the qualities that really define you

What are the adjectives people would use to describe you

For example, you could say “I am a person who would like to be constantly challenged at work…” That’s probably one of the things you can write.


hese are the buckets, or broad categories in which you could divide the 25 things. If you really look at it, you just need about four or five in each of these buckets. Don’t keep it for yourself, go and ask people. Maybe you can ask your friends and family, “what are the things you think are unique about me?”, and you can then have a list of 40 to 50 things, and slowly cut it down.


Again, this is not so much about them deciding whether you’re fit for an MBA but they are really seeing, “is this person interesting?”, “Has he or she done enough things in life? Have they done enough introspection themselves?”


That’s what this essay is really looking for. “Would I want to meet this person for a face -to-face interview? Would I want the person to be part of our school for the next two years?” eep that as the focus of this essay.


Second Required Essay


Instructions: Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.


Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and are vital to providing you with a range of experiential learning and individual development experiences.

Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community, outside of the classroom?

As I have said, it’s a huge part of Team Fuqua. They want people who are not here to just take take take…. but rather give give give…. They want to know what you can contribute. The best way to approach this is to probably pick three or four things that you can contribute. The mistake which most of the students typically do in this essay is that they go to the Fuqua website and pick a laundry list of 500  things and then just write one line for each. Please don’t do that. Pick three or four things that are central. For example, you’re in technology, so you need to pick something that you’re going to do in technology.You can say you want to be in the technology club. Tell them what you can contribute and what you can take from the club, and it should be personal. Write three to four points, each one having about 250 to 300 words. You need to have an opening and an ending. It will take at least two pages. Pick only 3 to 4 things, and not 100 things.


Optional Essay


If you feel there are circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (such as unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance).


Students ask, “should I write the optional essay?” Write the optional essays when you feel that there is something really important for you to say. The common mistakes I have seen students making over this essay is that they just feel like there is one thing that they want to say, and they just try to fit in an accomplishment, which really doesn’t make any sense. Here are some of the things that you could possibly add.  


  • If you have had an academic break,

  • if you have had a break in your employment,

  • if you want to explain a poor integrated reasoning score in your GMAT.

  • If you want to talk about something, for example, “I have my own network and I would like to let you know that though I believe in career advancement and placements help me, I would also like to rely on my network. ”

Write anything which can explain and improve your candidature.