Notes from Georgetown McDonough :

We want to hear your story. When responding to our required essays, be authentic and take time to reflect on your goals and past experiences. Craft a response that explains how these experiences led you to pursue an MBA.

Our goal at Georgetown McDonough is to craft a diverse class with people who have had varying personal and professional life experiences. As such, we want to give our applicants the opportunity to select one essay (from a list of three) that allows them the ability to best highlight their experiences, characteristics and values that showcase the value proposition that they can bring to the McDonough community.

Please select one of the following three essays to complete in 300-350 words (approximately one page, double-spaced) and include the essay prompt and your first/last name at the top of your submission.

McDonough Essay Option One – Principled Leadership: Georgetown McDonough places a strong emphasis on principled leadership, providing both curricular and co-curricular opportunities to strengthen your leadership skills. Describe a time when you have led a team in a professional environment to implement a new idea or process. What leadership characteristics did you utilize? What could you have done to be more effective? And most importantly, what skills will you be able to bring to the teams you lead at McDonough?

The primary task of this essay is to recount a professional leadership experience entailing a new idea or process. 

This means that the scenario you describe should be one in which you had to use your knowledge and reasoning in a unique way rather than just restating what you had before done in a comparable circumstance.

The experience you provide must be connected to your work in order to satisfy the requirement “in a professional context.” You should put your attention on communicating the abilities you used, the actions you made to lead your team, and your thinking processes as you went. This will give the admissions committee a clear picture of your accomplishments and the qualities of your character that motivated you and helped enable your success.

Keep in mind that Georgetown is seeking leadership that is “principled.” Principled leaders, according to Georgetown, are individuals that follow a “clearly established set of beliefs and values.” It would be easier for you to explain how you managed the team if you define your own set of beliefs and values in this essay. Georgetown is interested in knowing what you accomplished as well as how you did it.

The question “What might you have done to be more effective?” is an opportunity for you to show the admissions committee your ability to evaluate yourself, as well as your drive and capability to spot areas where you may develop. This is also a chance to discuss how the McDonough MBA program will assist you in addressing and minimizing such weaknesses. You must not disparage anybody else on your team or involved in the project by claiming or insinuating that you may have been more successful if they had behaved differently. Additionally, keep in mind that the admissions committee will not ask you to discuss what you took away from the experience, therefore we advise you against wasting a valuable word count on this subject.

McDonough Essay Option Two – Hoyas for the Common Good: Georgetown McDonough embodies the ethos that people and organizations can and should contribute to the greater good. The admissions committee would like to better understand how you have demonstrated these values during uniquely challenging times. Describe a time where you have put the needs of others ahead of your own or ahead of the bottom line. We look forward to learning more about the challenge you faced, what unique characteristics you brought to that scenario, and what you learned from it.

The second essay option also focuses on principled leadership.  The last several years have been difficult for the globe, and we have witnessed more than ever the need of moral leadership. 

Picking an instance where you actively participated and helped someone seems logical. In light of this, applicants might want to think about relationships they had while volunteering in the community, within their families, at work, in an extracurricular activity, with a single friend or loved one, or in any other number of situations—as long as you were motivated to put yourself second to someone else in some way.

How the circumstance affected and meant something to you personally and to the other party is more significant than its size or breadth. Regardless of the type of connection at the center of the narrative, it will be crucial to talk about one’s activities, interactions, and outcomes.

What qualities, beliefs, or values do you have that made you the best candidate to act in that situation and be able to provide a significant benefit or act of kindness to another? What prior encounters could have influenced, informed, or inspired your choice? What made giving up your own personal satisfaction or gaining the more appealing option? Finally, what did acting on your desire finally teach you—about you, about someone else, or about something outside of yourself? In order for the admissions committee to fully comprehend not just what happened but also your reasons and character, try to communicate these essential aspects of the scenario.  

McDonough Essay Option Three:  The Georgetown Community. Georgetown McDonough is a diverse, global community. We look to understand the contribution that your personal background would make to our community. As appropriate, you may wish to address any obstacles or challenges you have overcome; any educational, familial, cultural, economic, and social experiences that have helped to shape your educational and professional goals; or how your background (e.g. first-generation student, resident outside the U.S.) or activities (e.g. community service and leadership) will contribute to our community.

The third essay option emphasizes diversity. What value would your background and experiences provide to the community? If you want the admissions committee to know something special about your background, this is an excellent alternative. The adcom can learn about you, your background, and your personal interests. It is also a wonderful spot to emphasize moments of ingenuity and perseverance, as well as to reveal one’s level of maturity and collaborative nature on a personal and professional level via a story.

An effective strategy might be to briefly describe the initial challenge or experience and its general implications, then discuss how you overcame it with the help of a brief illustrative example, before reflecting on the lessons you’ve learned and how those lessons have influenced who you are today.

The adcom is also interested in learning that you’ll be a helpful and cooperative member of the student body while attending McDonough. Applicants should attempt to link their past with how they could benefit McDonough in the future. Consider how you may apply your expertise and pertinent lessons to engagement on the Georgetown campus as you approach the contributions in particular. You will be able to give a coherent and understandable image of your candidacy, as well as your professional and personal interests, by making a connection between your history and your possible future at the program. The more specifics you can offer about how you would contribute (by taking on a specific position in planning a certain yearly event, for example), the more justification you’ll supply.


Building a cohort of diverse and unique individuals is important to the admissions team. We want you to bring your whole self to Georgetown McDonough. Throughout the application, we’ve learned about what you would add as a professional and leader. Just as important is learning about your interests outside of work. In one minute, please describe a hobby, passion, or what you do for fun in your free time—and why.

You can find more information about the parameters of this essay here.

This Georgetown MBA application video essay explicitly requests that you appear in a one-minute video and discuss issues that are not covered in your résumé. Georgetown also requests conversational and spontaneous replies.

The content is a crucial component of this activity, as it is with any video essays. The admissions committee is interested in learning more about your goals, history, and personality. Aspects of your personal life that you did not include in the rest of your Georgetown MBA application should come to mind. Even more specifically, the McDonough team exhorts you to investigate a passion, or a past time. Maybe you may talk about a particularly intriguing extracurricular experience you had or a personal triumph you’re extremely proud of.

Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity to show how well you suit the Georgetown MBA program (unless you focused on option three of the previously required essays). Can you share your passions with your peers at school? Consider your contributions to McDonough at all times.

As this is a visual presentation, make sure you are dressed professionally, that the environment is well-lit, and that you can be easily heard. You want to avoid sending the adcom on an uneven walking tour with your laptop or phone, so a background that is clean and sturdy may be the ideal option. While many candidates will feel drawn to include props in their videos, such as signs, trinkets, or other valued things that might serve to immediately identify you, we would like to advise exercising some caution in this area.


Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (300-350 words, approximately one page, double-spaced).

The optional essay, in our opinion, should be used to clarify any murky or troubling aspects of your candidacy, and this question gives you the chance to do just that. So, if necessary, use this opportunity to address any concerns an admissions officer may have about your profile, such as a subpar grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a break in your employment history, etc.

However, because the question is so open-ended, you are free to talk about anything you feel is really important for the admissions committee to know in order to evaluate you thoroughly and effectively but has not been covered elsewhere in your application. We urge you against just trying to fill this space because you believe that doing otherwise will somehow be detrimental to you. It’s important to keep in mind that by submitting an additional essay, you are asking the admissions committee to put in more effort on your behalf. If you are using the essay to emphasize something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, take this opportunity to write a very brief narrative that reveals this key new aspect of your candidacy.


Required for re-applicants. How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (300-350 words, approximately one page, double-spaced).

It might be beneficial to evaluate your previous application to identify any potential weaknesses—did you have enough leadership experience? Were your objectives well-defined? Did you boost your GMAT score or take quantitative courses to compensate for your poor undergraduate record? ‘This prompt focuses on proactive enhancements to one’s candidacy since the previous time one applied. As a result, this answer should be rather action-oriented, with an emphasis on detailing the activities taken to become a stronger candidate to McDonough since being refused, as well as the benefits of these efforts in terms of new knowledge and increased abilities. 

The request for professional development should account for an increase in one’s duties at work—perhaps more direct management experience—or a successful project completed since your previous application. On a personal level, this might imply extensive community commitment. There should also be flexibility to account for how one’s professional aspirations have evolved as well as an interest in McDonough’s program itself. It’s also vital not to regurgitate stuff from your previous application verbatim; the adcom wants to see that you approached the application procedure with fresh eyes and new knowledge.

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