Northwestern Kellogg MBA Essays and Deadlines for 2023-2024
Maria |
July 13, 2023

Is Northwestern Kellogg on your target list of business schools? Then you are in luck! Kellogg’s updated essays and application deadlines for the 2023-2024 admissions season have just been released. Time to start working on those essays (scroll down to see the questions)! 🙂


Round 1

Application due: September 13, 2023*
Decision released: December 13, 2023

Round 2

Application due: January 10, 2024*
Decision released: March 27, 2024

Round 3

Application due: April 3, 2024*
Decision released: May 8, 2024

Applications are due at 5 pm CT. 

For more information on application requirements, check out the Kellogg admissions site.

If you are looking for advice on your Northwestern Kellogg application, make sure you sign up for ApplicantLab! We provide step-by-step guidance on every aspect of your MBA application, including updated advice (as of July 13th, I am in the process of updating this advice over the next few business days!), dissecting this year’s Kellogg essays questions, providing non-obvious “do’s” and “don’ts”, and explaining the Kellogg “DNA” so that you can tailor your application materials to show that you’re the sort of person they’re looking for! Sign up for a free trial. 

For the 2023 – 2024 admissions season, Northwestern Kellogg has changed its written essay questions for the first time in several years! While I do like their new essay #1 more than the earlier version, the change to essay #2  is a shame, since it was one of my favorite essays from the top schools, but of course that doesn’t actually matter, ha ha!

Question 1 (450 words)

Kellogg Leaders are primed to tackle today’s pressing concerns everywhere, from the boardroom to their neighborhoods. Tell us about a time in your life where you’ve needed a combination of skills to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. Which skills did you use? What did you accomplish?

For years, Kellogg asked a question about a time you created “lasting value” — they’ve changed that this year to focus more on describing which “combination of skills” you used.  In other words, the PROCESS you went through to solve a problem now matters more than WHAT the problem was, or WHAT the IMPACT was.

If you read Kellogg’s own blog post / website accompanying this new question (something you won’t really have to do if you sign up for ApplicantLab since I do it for you!) — you might get a sense of the SORTS of skills they’re looking for you to have demonstrated… but achtung! I think some of the skills mentioned on the website are a bit of a trap! (I do NOT think that this is a trap that has been INTENTIONALLY SET, but it’s one I think applicants should be aware of all the same!).

Another trap I think applicants might fall in to here is choosing the wrong sort of “problem / challenge” to talk about. I realize that it’s business school and so you (understandably!) might initially want to write about your greatest work accomplishment here… (especially if you got an early start on the Kellogg essays and already drafted an answer to the previous essay 1, ha ha)… but resist that temptation. Some types of “problems / challenges” here will make for better fodder than others, and it might not necessarily be your Most Impressive Work Story!

In ApplicantLab, I,m not only creating advice for how to tackle this essay, along with the Dos and Don’ts, but I also synthesize what we can glean from changes over time to the Kellogg leadership essay. What does the new wording mean? Does it mean that Kellogg is CHANGING what it looks for in applicants (I don’t necessarily think so!) — what I think it means is that the answers they were getting to the previous “lasting value” essay prompt were disappointing on some level. If we can try to analyze what might have been wrong (or, well, sub-optimal) about the previous answers they were getting, then we can be sure to try to avoid doing those things for this new question!

Question 2 (450 words)

At Kellogg, our values are based on research that concludes organizations comprised of leaders with varied backgrounds and perspectives outperform homogeneous ones. How do you believe your personal and professional experiences to date will help to enrich the Kellogg community?

Ok ok so first of all, I know I was being a little grumpy above re: this new question #2, BUT I would like to first THANK Kellogg for pointing out right up front that there is actual, real research showing the value of diversity in organizations. With “diversity” and / or “inclusion” essays being the Hot Trendy Essay Topic these days, I think it can be tempting for the more cynical folks out there to think that this focus is just a bunch of politcally-correct, “woke”, b.s. … but hey there, it actually isn’t… since study after study PROVES that groups that have team-mates with diverse points of view statistically tend to out-perform teams where everyone thinks in similar ways.

Anyway, the part of this new essay question that DOES make me a little grumpy is that the question used to ask for a more general discussion about ” What values are important to you, and how have they influenced you?”, which to ME led to really interesting insights from candidates about a wide variety of lived experiences they’ve had.

This newer version of the question is… fine. But it’s basically a standard “contribution to our campus” essay (with a wink to “Hey, ideally you’ll tell us stuff about you that is a bit more unique, so that we don’t die of boredom reading these”) …but it’s still a “contribution to campus” essay all the same.

Basically, if you’ve already started working on your Wharton essay #2 (“…how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to [our] community”), then you can simply swap out the names of the Wharton-specific clubs, organizations, etc. and replace them with the Kellogg version.  I mean, the word-counts are essentially the same (400 for Wharton; 450 for Kellogg) so you don’t even need to do significantly different amounts of editing / word-smithing between them.

* Note! Since Wharton’s deadlines are roughly 1 week before Kellogg’s, work on THAT application FIRST, if you’re in a hurry!

Maybe, to the extent that the new essay 1 requires a bit more thought / nuance than it has in the past, maybe the thinking here was to make up for MORE heavy-lifting needed in essay 1, by making essay 2 a lot easier? Meh. I mean — I get it, but still.  RIP, previous essay #2   🙁

3 Video Essays

Once again, Kellogg is asking for 3 video essays (you get 20 seconds to think, and up to 60 seconds to respond).

In previous years, they’ve told us in advance what the questions are, which to ME goes a long way towards defeating the purpose of these questions — after all, if it’s super-important to know what my personality, poise, like-ability, etc. are as part of the application process… isn’t a SPONTANEOUS question that I CAN NOT prepare for going to yield a much more authentic response?

Anyway, I’m going to reach out to them to get confirmation if once again this year they are going with 3 pre-determined questions, or if they’re going to mix it up and make them more like “randomly picking from a bucket of questions — e.g. a teamwork / leadership bucket; a ‘why Kellogg / why MBA’ bucket; an extra-curricular / something fun about you bucket)… “

… but either way, in ApplicantLab I have advice on how to prepare for / do [and look!] your best in these video essays, regardless of what the topic is.  Of course, one of my strongest pieces of advice for how to prepare is to NOT PREPARE TOO MUCH, because not only do you then risk sounding like a robot (yikes!), but if the actual question asked turns out to be a minor variation of a question you’ve overly-prepared a rehearsed answer for… welp, then you risk reciting an answer that on its face might seem OK, but in fact answers a question that wasn’t actually asked (DOUBLE YIKES).

I know that these video essays can be really stressful, but IMHO any school that offers them is doing you, the applicant, a HUGE FAVOR by giving you this chance.

      • It gives you an opportunity to show your personality, which can be a HUGE boon to any applicant that has a less-than-perfect GMAT / GRE score, etc.
        • I know it might be tempting to view AdComs’ claims of a “holistic” process with skepticism / cynicism, but these video interviews level the playing field for everyone who applies (you KNOW that you’re at least getting A SHOT for them to hear from you directly!)
      • It helps you start to practice for:
        • Other MBA programs’ interviews!
        • Future MBA employer job interviews!
      • And well, if you’re simply terrible at these things… the “good” news is, you’ll get rejected earlier on in the process, vs. getting a standard interview invite and then getting a rejection later on. “Umm hi how is this GOOD news, Maria?” — well, if your candidacy is on its way to a rejection, wouldn’t you rather know ASAP, vs. being strung along on the false hope that an interview invite gives? Because honestly — if you’re bad at these video interviews (e.g. robotic; rambling; unlikeable) then it’s probably going to be bad news at every school eventually anyway…
        • … and this is valuable early feedback that — if you DO get invited to OTHER schools’ interviews later on — it might be a super-useful wake-up call to get more help (say, from the InterviewLab, which is ApplicantLab’s interview prep module) while there’s still time!

Anyway, this post will be evolving as:

      • I complete / finish updating the essay advice for Kellogg in ApplicantLab
      • I get more clarification on the 3 video essay topics — ie, if this year there is a plan to make them random!
Northwestern Kellogg MBA Essays and Deadlines for 2023-2024
Maria |
July 13, 2023


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