How to Tackle Kellogg’s 2019-20 Essay Prompts

Kellogg’s 2019/2020 Application now open


Kellogg has announced its new 2019/2020 application with deadlines as follows: ROUND 1 – SEPT 18, 2019 | ROUND 2 – JAN 8, 2020 | ROUND 3 – APRIL 8, 2020

In addition to several changes in the application, there are a few other important changes at Kellogg to emphasize. First, Kellogg welcomes incoming new dean Francesca Cornelli this August. Cornelli most recently has served as a Professor of Finance, Deputy Dean of Degree Programmes and Director of Private Equity at London Business School. Cornelli’s appointment continues a trend showing how highly women are valued at Kellogg in that she will be the third consecutive female dean of Kellogg’s MBA program. On the curricular side, there are two new options with the addition of the Asset Management and Technology Management pathways. Since 28% of the 2018 class is working in the tech industry, up from 18% in 2014, the new Technology Management pathway shows how Kellogg continues to adapt curricular offerings based on student and recruiter interest. Moreover, while the Kellogg Global Hub is no longer brand new, the customizable spaces available in the Global Hub continue to help Kellogg innovate in collaboration by curating a variety of team and interactive experiences for students.

With regard to the application, there are some subtle as well as major changes in the 2019/2020 application.

Essay 1: (required) Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

Question 1 remains largely unchanged from last year although there is a subtle change worth noting. This year’s question 1 asks specifically for a “recent” leadership example. Some applicants may have gone too far back in offering a leadership example and I suspect this subtle addition was made to help more applicants avoid this mistake.

Another small change to the question is that they are simply asking for value creation and not “lasting value.” I suspect this change was made to make the question less intimidating in that if you created value in your leadership role it is a potential contender to be used in answering this question—even if you can’t yet tell if lasting value will remain.

It is important to address all aspects of the question—from describing the experience and where you were challenged to reflecting on what you learned from the experience as well.


Essay 2: (required) Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

Question 2 is a major change to this year’s application in that it asks an entirely new question about values rather than asking how you have grown personally and professionally in the past.

In a webinar to consultants to explain the change, Kate Smith said “The goal in this change is to uncover more about what motivates and inspires Kellogg applicants as well as what drives them. Kellogg wants to know how you will become a meaningful member of the Kellogg community and how these things shape the kind of leader they want to become.

Keep the key qualities that Kellogg looks for in mind as you approach this new question. Then think about ways that your values may align with some of the qualities that Kellogg values. These qualities include:

  • Can motivate a team to drive impact
  • Not afraid to question the status quo and seek non-obvious solutions
  • Possess creativity and talent that is rooted in self awareness
  • Seek diversity in their networks and teams
  • Eager to dive in and collaborate with an engaged, ambitious community of peers

Kellogg has long valued high impact, low ego leaders so keep this in mind for the tone in your essay. Since Kellogg wants to know how you will become a meaningful member of the Kellogg community, you should research the curriculum, overall program and club offerings so you can share how you plan to engage with Kellogg during your time in the program and ideally beyond.


Certain applicants will respond to additional questions:

1Y applicants: Please discuss your post-MBA career goal, the current experience you will leverage to support the transition, and the Kellogg 1Y opportunities that will help you reach this goal. (250 words)

It is very important that 1YR applicants have a well-developed career goal that can be attained without an internship. The best candidates for this program are career enhancers—those who want to stay in the same field but gain additional functional knowledge and leadership training from the MBA. For this essay, Kellogg wants applicants to do their homework and know how they will engage at Kellogg as those 4 quarters will pass quickly and students need to hit the ground running when they begin to know how they will make the most of Kellogg.

JD-MBA applicants: Please discuss your post-JD-MBA career goals and why the JD-MBA Program is the right program to help you reach those goals. (250 words)

MMM applicants: The five core values of the MMM Program are curiosity, creativity, empathy, open-mindedness and a learning mindset. Describe a situation in which you demonstrated one of these values. Why is this value an important part of the MMM experience for you? (250 words)

In answering this question, be sure to provide a specific example and provide enough detail to support your choice.

Reapplicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 words)

No tricks here. Just think about how you are a stronger candidate than you were when you last applied. Have you retaken the GMAT? Taken other new courses? Been promoted or faced new challenges at work? Learned more about specific programs at Kellogg and how they can help you reach your goals?


All applicants have the opportunity to provide explanations or clarification in Additional Information. Use this section if you think the person reviewing your application might have a few questions about one or more of your responses. This could include:

  • Unexplained gaps in work experience
  • Academic, GMAT or GRE performance

Extenuating circumstances that we should be aware of when reviewing your application

There’s no need to answer this question if you have nothing to address from the above list. Don’t feel compelled to write a long essay if a few clarifying sentences can address your point.


The other big change to Kellogg’s application comes from the video essay questions. Rather than asking an icebreaker question 1, Kellogg instead is offering applicants the chance to introduce themselves through the video essay. Question 2 will remain the same in asking you to describe your plans for the future and how Kellogg will help you on that journey. The last question will be a behavioral interview question similar to what Kellogg has asked in the past.