The full-time MBA program at the National University of Singapore is a relatively new and small experience that was founded in 1985. As you would expect, the vast majority of MBA students here are from outside Singapore. In the class entered in 2012, 91% of the students are deemed “international.” The diversity of nationalities in the class, from just 20 different countries, is much less than most top business schools in the U.S. And when students become graduates, they inevitably stay close to home: six of every ten graduates in the Class of 2012 landed jobs in Singapore.

The primary focus of the 17-month-long MBA program is predictably on Asian business, though students can spend a semester on exchange at one of 42 partner universities, including New York University’s Stern School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in the U.S., Fudan University in China, and IE Business School in Spain.

The school aims to be the leading business school in Asia, globally recognized for excellence in education and research. Its stated mission is to “advance knowledge and develop leaders so as to serve business and society.”

NUS MBA Class Profile


NUS MBA Winning Sample Essay - 1

1) Please answer ONE of the following short essay prompts. (300 words) *

  1. I am passionate about…
  2. My greatest challenge has been…
  3. My biggest failure was ….

My biggest failure was when I let down my students in Pratigya (a student initiative dedicated to imparting education to underprivileged children) where I used to teach and lead the volunteers’ team.

My mother, a teacher, has always inspired me to impart the gift of education to underprivileged children. During my undergraduate, I joined Pratigya but was disheartened to see extremely irregular attendance and poor grades in all classes. I gathered a team of 15 volunteers and led multiple efforts to spread awareness among the children’s families regarding the importance of education. We also worked on children’s self-motivation to learn, through experiential learning programs. Attendance rose to 50 and grades improved gradually. Our initiatives were changing lives and as its convener, I was deeply gratified.

However, I had to leave Pratigya family after my graduation, passing the baton to my juniors. After 6 months, I found out that students had again stopped coming to class because the new team was not as enthusiastically engaged with the children as the previous team.

Sheryl Sandberg has said, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” Deep-down, I felt, it was partly my responsibility and failure as a leader. It was a great learning moment, and I realized that while focusing on Pratigya’s outward impact, I should have also focused internally to create a self-sustaining chain of volunteers who could carry forward the good work.

Now, I always endeavour to mentor my subordinates such that they can always step up as leaders when required. Investing in others’ development has added to my own growth as an improvement-driven and compassionate leader. I aspire to employ all these learnings and someday establish a school to support underprivileged children.

Briefly describe your immediate post-MBA career goal including your industry, function and country of choice and how have your prior experiences motivated and prepared you to pursue these goals? (300 words)

I have 4 years of professional experience as a consultant in Deloitte. Post MBA, I would like to make a transition into product management roles in technology firms such as Microsoft or Google in Singapore.

During my 4 years at Deloitte, I have acquired excellent client-handling capabilities, technical expertise and leadership skills to design and deliver technical aspects of product applications. In due course, I have also developed a keen interest in market research and customer insights that form an integral part of any new product development. However, I lack the business knowledge and operational skills needed to implement and achieve these business objectives.

Since last US presidential elections and Brexit, the Indian IT services industry has been navigating troubled waters. With focus shifting from labour and salary arbitrage to developing niche product offerings, the whole services market is seeing a surge in reskilling. I would like to use this opportunity to align my skills with the future needs of the IT sector.

After discussing with a current student ‘Anjan Raina’, I believe NUS’s curriculum (with elective courses such as technology innovation, big data and strategic information technology) has a strong focus on technology sector which can help me acquire the necessary business acumen to bridge the knowledge gap.

Singapore has a thriving ecosystem for technology start-ups and giants such as Microsoft, and Google. NUS’s brand value in Singapore can open the doors to perfect opportunities for me to make a transition towards my post MBA goal.

I believe, my prior experience as a technical consultant coupled with the business knowledge acquired in MBA, can facilitate my successful transition to a product manager’s role in the short-term. In the long-term, I would like to return to India and contribute in developing my country with learnings from my experiences in Singapore.

If there is anything else you would like to share with the Admissions Committee that was not covered in your application, please include here. (300 words)

I would like to use this space and opportunity to highlight my deep-rooted interest and love for writing poems and scripts.

I wrote my first poem on a beautiful flower at the age of 10. My teachers really liked it and published it in the school magazine. It was eventually published in a national daily. My mother always encouraged me to pursue my hobby of poetry and story writing. As I grew up, writing became an integral part of my life because it liberated my thoughts and gave a constructive vent to my feelings, sentiments and observations. My work got published in reputed magazines and national dailies. I wrote for school and college magazines as chief editor, and won several awards for my work.

My natural talent for writing attracted many accolades and led to my association with the college dramatics clubs when they approached me to write a short play-script. I realized that my words had life and they could be enjoyed by a much larger audience. I explored my natural talent to the fullest extent in my undergraduate years by writing scripts for multiple short-plays and movies performed at college fests.

As time passed, career aspirations took the front seat in life. Still, I have tried to keep my passion alive and managed to get my book “Light in the Creek” published by a reputed publication in India. Getting it published was a rather spiritual journey and one of my life’s most satisfying achievements. I aspire to keep this flame burning by writing more and touching more lives. I try to use my writing to spread awareness on matters close to my heart such as child abuse and poor primary education in developing economies. Books shaped my life and I wish to do the same for others.

NUS MBA Application Essay Tips

National University of Singapore offers a 17-month MBA program offering specializations in 4 distinct areas (Finance, Marketing, Healthcare Management, or Strategy & Organization). If you are looking for an Asian-focused program with strong placement in the Consulting (21%), Finance (23%), or Technology (29%) industries in Singapore (50%), China (13%) or other Asia-Pacific countries, then NUS may be a great program for you.

Essay 1 – 

Tell us about your intermediate (5 yrs) post-MBA career goal, describing your industry, function and country of choice and a plan on how you would achieve this goal. (300 words)

All MBA programs want their students to be pleased with the employment they find and the career trajectory ahead of them after graduation. Applicants must demonstrate in this essay that they know what they can expect to achieve within 5 years of graduating so that the Admissions office will believe you are realistically driven.

LinkedIn searches for NUS alumni can be very useful to see what a wide range of MBA alumni have succeeded in doing within around 5 years of graduating. Go to NUS’s LinkedIn page and then use the Search Alumni button, and you can restrict your search to graduates around 2010-2012 to get a sense of their 5-year progress. This isn’t foolproof: you must check that you are looking at MBA graduates (and not undergraduate degree holders or exchange students), but this will offer you wider insight than your own small circle of acquaintances. Go ahead and reach out to alumni through LinkedIn and through your personal network to discuss how they reached the advancement that they did to add depth to your own plans for this essay.

Essay 2 –  

Please answer ONE of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)

1. I am passionate about…
2. My greatest challenge has been…
3. My biggest failure was….

All three of these questions are opportunities to share an interesting experience from your life. Passion comes through with differentiating details (did you compete in 10Ks every weekend? Did you turn $500 in high school summer earnings into an investment portfolio worth thousands?). Challenges are overcome with drive, tenacity, and commitment. Failures are learning experiences and launch pads for subsequent successes. Share an example here that will help the Admission committee see your exceptionality come alive.

Essay 3 – 

Please introduce yourself to your NUS MBA classmates. (300 words)

This essay can be about anything in your background. The easiest way to tackle a question like this is to identify 3 attributes that describe you and spend around 100 words sharing an example of each. Keep in mind that NUS is seeking students from diverse professional and national backgrounds with evidence of strong leadership abilities and positive impact on business and society. Essays emphasising and sharing evidence of these attributes will demonstrate fit with NUS well.

Optional Essay – 

If there is anything else you would like to share with the Admissions Committee that was not covered in your application, please include here (eg. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance). (150 words)

I personally find the placement of this question second a bit awkward, since at this point in the application you still have essay space to “cover” things about yourself. I recommend writing the remaining two essay questions first and then examining what areas of your background you may not have explained completely.

This optional space may certainly be used to explain poor academic performance, but if possible I highly recommend shining the spotlight on an area of strength in the process: poor grades do not have to stand on their own when you can demonstrate that you spent your undergraduate education in significant extracurricular leadership roles, for example.

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