Ucla Essays Faculty Committee Classroom

This blog post is part of our "Application Insider" blog post series that provides insider information, tips, and advice about applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program.




In 2017, we made some changes to our Essay section for new applicants. As a reminder, these are the essay requirements for the 2017-18 application cycle:


 - Essay Question: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. How can the UCLA Anderson experience add value to your professional development? (500 words max)

 - Short Answer Question: Describe how you would contribute to the UCLA Anderson community. (250 words max)


Reapplicants are those who submitted a completed MBA application within the previous two years (those who applied for the MBA program starting in 2016 or 2017). If you applied three years or more prior, then please answer the "New Applicant" questions. 

- Reapplicant Essay Question: Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)


As in previous years, we also have an optional question for those who need some additional space to explain extenuating circumstances that are not evident in the application. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit a response to the optional question. The optional question can be answered by either new applicants or reapplicants.

 - Optional Question: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

You may be thinking...What is the best way to approach answering the essay and short answer question?

The essay and short answer are designed to allow you to share different aspects of your profile and background with us.

The essay is more professionally focused so here are some tips:

  • The skills you gained and the qualities you've learned about yourself in your past career experiences will often influence your future professional goals; so take the time to self-reflect on what you liked and didn't like in your past job(s) to help understand where you see yourself in the future. It's important that we understand how your past experiences and transferable skills fit into your future goals. 
  • With this better understanding of your past, you can start by thinking about your long-term goals and work backwards to short-term goals, and then work backwards even further to what you would do at UCLA Anderson to achieve those goals.

For the short answer question, you might think about your areas of interest beyond work, past organizations and/or groups you have been involved in and see if you can continue and share those interests in the UCLA Anderson community, or perhaps explore new areas you'd like to get involved in as a part of your MBA journey. You can connect with our students and check out our Club Webpages to explore how our student club leaders can make an impact on campus. We pride ourselves on our student-led culture and the Admissions Committee looks for qualities of student contribution potential in applicants. 

What if my career plans change once I start school? 

The Admissions Committee understands that our MBA program may expose you to other professional opportunities that, in turn, may change your goals. But for the purpose of the essay, we need to know that you can set a goal, research the paths to get there and develop a well-articulated plan on how you will leverage and grow your skills with an MBA from UCLA Anderson to help you get there.

When should I use the optional essay? Is it really optional?

For those of you that may have additional situations to address (for example, an unexplained leave of absence from work or context to the reason for a less-than-stellar course grade in college), you might consider using the optional essay to address those situations. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. The essay is truly optional and should only be used to explain situations not evident on the application, not act as an extension to the main application essay. 

How do I know my essay is ready to submit?

Once you are satisfied with a draft, it is advisable to have at least two people read and review it. You may also choose to share the essay prompt with them or not to see if they can guess the topic solely from your response. Here are our recommendations on who you should ask: 

  1. A person who knows you very well and can quickly conclude if the essay faithfully represents you, your values and your goals. 
  2. A person who may not know you as well. This person should be able to give you an objective perspective on how the essay may come across to the admissions committee, who are unlikely to have met you before. Are your goals clear and concise? Can they tell how excited you are about UCLA Anderson? Is it evident that you've done the work to get to know the school?

By getting insights from people with varying levels of knowledge about you, you should be able to refine your essay(s) further. After another review for clarity & conciseness, typos, grammar, etc., you'll be ready to press submit!


Check back for more "Application Insider" blog posts that will cover information and tips on the many aspects of applying to the UCLA Anderson MBA program!



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Questions? Contact us at: mba.admissions@anderson.ucla.edu

Freshman Selection - Fall 2018

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Each year, UCLA considers many more excellent applicants for freshmen admission than it can possibly admit. The goal of the campus’ admissions review process is to single out from a large and growing pool of academically strong applicants those unique individuals who have demonstrated the intellectual curiosity, tenacity, and commitment to community service expected of the UCLA graduate. These select applicants are the ones who would contribute the most to UCLA’s dynamic learning environment; they are also the applicants who would make the most of being immersed in it. Although high school grade point average and standardized test scores are important indicators of academic achievement used in UCLA’s admissions review, they only tell part of the story.

As a public, land grant institution of higher learning, UCLA has a mandate to serve the State of California by educating its future leaders in research, industry, and the arts. California’s future depends heavily on this important charge. While California law prohibits the consideration of an applicant’s race and/or gender in individual admission decisions, the University also has a mandate to reflect the diversity of the state’s population in its student body. Student diversity is a compelling interest at UCLA. It contributes to a rich and stimulating learning environment, one that best prepares leaders-in-the-making for the challenges and opportunities of California, the nation, and beyond.

Admission Review Process

Selection is based on a comprehensive review of all information—both academic and personal—presented in the application. All applications are read twice, in their entirety, by professionally trained readers. After independently reading and analyzing a file, the reader determines a comprehensive score that is the basis upon which the student is ultimately admitted or denied. In addition, admissions managers conduct multiple checks for consistency and completeness throughout the reading process. While this evaluation process is based on human judgments rather than a system that quantifies factors and incorporates them into a numerical formula, the extensive reader training, comprehensive reading of files, as well as other monitoring procedures, ensure that the process is highly reliable. Formal tests of reliability are conducted regularly to assure quality control.

The admission review reflects the readers’ thoughtful consideration of the full spectrum of the applicant’s qualifications, based on all evidence provided in the application, and viewed in the context of the applicant’s academic and personal circumstances and the overall strength of the UCLA applicant pool. Using a broad concept of merit, readers employ the following criteria which carry no pre-assigned weights:

  1. The applicant’s full record of achievement in college preparatory work in high school, including the number and rigor of courses taken and grades earned in those courses. Consideration will be given to completion of courses beyond the University's a-g minimums; strength of the senior year course load; and performance in honors, college level, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IBHL) courses to the extent that such courses are available to the applicant. In assessing achievement levels, consideration will be given to individual grades earned, to the pattern of achievement over time, and to an applicant’s achievement relative to that of others in his or her high school, including whether he or she is among those identified as Eligible in the Local Context.
  2. Personal qualities of the applicant, including leadership ability, character, motivation, tenacity, initiative, originality, creativity, intellectual independence, responsibility, insight, maturity, and demonstrated concern for others and for the community. These qualities may not be reflected in traditional measures of academic achievement. They may be found elsewhere in the application and judged by the reader as positive indicators of the student’s ability to succeed at UCLA and beyond.
  3. Likely contributions to the intellectual and cultural vitality of the campus. In addition to a broad range of intellectual interests and achievements, consideration will be given to evidence of an applicant’s ability and desire to contribute to a campus that values cultural, socioeconomic, and intellectual diversity. This includes the likelihood that the student would make meaningful and unique contributions to intellectual and social interchanges with faculty and fellow students, both inside and outside the classroom.
  4. Performance on standardized tests, including the ACT plus Writing or SAT, and any AP or IBHL examinations the applicant may have taken. Applicants who have not had the opportunity to take AP or IBHL courses or who have chosen not to take the examinations for these courses will not be disadvantaged. Test scores will be evaluated in the context of all other academic information in the application and preference will be given to tests that show a demonstrable relationship to curriculum and to Academic Senate statements of competencies expected of entering college students. Under no circumstances does UCLA employ minimum scores or "cut-offs" of any kind.
  5. Achievement in academic enrichment programs, including, but not limited to, those sponsored by the University of California. This criterion will be measured by time and depth of participation, by the academic progress made by the applicant during that participation, and by the intellectual rigor of the particular program.
  6. Other evidence of achievement. This criterion will recognize exemplary, sustained achievement in any field of intellectual or creative endeavor; accomplishments in the performing arts and athletics; employment; leadership in school or community organizations or activities; and community service.
  7. Opportunities. All achievements, both academic and non-academic, are considered in the context of the opportunities an applicant has had, and the reader’s assessment is based on how fully the applicant has taken advantage of those opportunities. In evaluating the context in which academic accomplishments have taken place, readers consider the strength of the high school curriculum, including the availability of honors, AP, and IBHL courses, and the total number of college preparatory courses available, among other indicators of the resources available within the school. When appropriate and feasible, readers look comparatively at the achievements of applicants in the same pool who attended the same high school and therefore might be expected to have similar opportunities to achieve.
  8. Challenges. For an applicant who has faced any hardships or unusual circumstances, readers consider the maturity, determination, and insight with which he or she has responded to and/or overcome them. Readers also consider other contextual factors that bear directly on the applicant’s achievement, including linguistic background, parental education level, and other indicators of support available in the home. 

In applying the criteria above, readers carefully consider evidence provided in the personal insight questions, as well as in the academic record and list of honors and achievements. It is important that the student as an individual comes through in the personal insight questions.


UCLA is among the most selective universities in the country and is becoming more competitive for freshman applicants each year. This past year UCLA received more than 102,000 applications.  Generally the campus is able to admit about one in six freshman applicants for the fall term.

For the College of Letters and Science, the applicant's major is not considered during the review process. The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science admits students by declared major, with more emphasis on science and math programs. The School of Nursing also places more emphasis on science and math programs and requires the submission of an additional supplemental application. The School of the Arts and Architecture; Herb Alpert School of Music; and the School of Theater, Film and Television admit students by declared major (within the school), and put more emphasis on special talents through a review of portfolios and/or auditions, which are the most significant admission factors for these schools.


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