MBA Writing Requirement


As part of its recent review of the MBA curriculum, Wharton undertook an extensive survey of alumni and recruiters. In that survey, alumni identified the ability to write well as crucial to their career success. Wharton faculty responded by adding a writing requirement to the core curriculum, signaling a greater emphasis on writing for all Wharton MBA students.

The MBA Writing Requirement is a 0cu, pass/fail requirement for graduation. It has two components:

  • The Writing Waiver Exam (required for all students)
  • WHCP 621: Foundations of Business Writing (required for students who do not waive the requirement)

Students who are interested in enhancing their persuasive writing skills have the option of taking a 0.25cu flexcore writing course, Persuasive Writing for Business Leaders, in the spring of their first year to satisfy the second half of the 0.5cu Communication requirement. Please note that this year’s writing requirement, which was revised in response to feedback from students, alumni, and employers, differs significantly from that of previous years.

Writing Waiver Exam:

During the month of July, all students are required to schedule and complete a two-hour, virtual, writing waiver exam. All students must complete the exam by July 31st.

To give students the flexibility to complete the exam in the manner most conducive to their success, students may take the exam at the time and place of their choosing during the one-month exam window.

Students who score in the lowest ten percent on that exam will not waive the writing requirement, and instead will be required to complete WHCP 621, Foundations of Business Writing, in the fall of their first year. Students will be notified of their waiver results in early August.

Writing Waiver Exam Preparation and Evaluation:

The two-hour virtual waiver exam will ask students to draw on a relatively simple data set to write a persuasive memo of approximately 300-500 words in which they recommend a particular course of action. By choosing from prompts across a range of industries, student may select the prompt that most closely aligns with their interests and experience.

Students’ submissions will be evaluated independently by two reviewers from the Communication Program using a rubric that includes the following four criteria: Organization, Development & Support, Style (Clarity & Concision), and Grammar & Usage.

To help students prepare for the exam, the Communication Program will make instructional content available on the waiver exam’s Canvas site. The Communication Program will notify students when this Canvas site is ready in June.

WHCP 621: Foundations of Business Writing:

This 0cu, pass/fail, classroom-based writing course is designed to help students master the fundamentals of persuasive business writing.

To ensure student success, there will be separate sections for native and non-native English speakers. For the non-native sections, the Communication Program has partnered with Penn’s English Language Programs, the university’s experts in ESL education, to better support students as they hone their business writing skills in English. Please note that the content of both sections is fundamentally the same; the non-native sections simply offer more support tailored to the needs of writers for whom English is not their first language.