Emory University is a highly selective, private research university in Atlanta, Georgia, with only an 18% acceptance rate. Due to its competitive application process, there are two required Emory supplemental essays. This helps the admissions committee personalize their admission decisions among a large pool of equally qualified high school applicants with impressive GPAs and high test scores. Emory supplementals are key factors in the admissions process, so its important to familiarize yourself with past Emory University essay prompts, Emory essays that worked, and tips for writing compelling Emory supplemental essays that will help you stand apart from other applicants.

Emory University has an esteemed liberal arts college, noteworthy professional and graduate programs, and is well-known for its healthcare system. The school attracts lots of medical students and is recognized as one of the nation’s leaders in research. There are lots of reasons why Emory University receives so much attention, and there are lots of qualified applicants who would like to take advantage of the great opportunities Emory has to offer. Read on to gain insights and tips on how to write a successful supplemental essay.

Before you get started on your Emory University supplemental essays for 2022-23:

As a highly-selective institution, Emory University requires two Emory supplemental essays as a part of its application. These brief essays, both of which are under 200 words, help Emory’s admissions officers get a feel for applicants’ individual personalities, passions, and opinions. Test scores and statistics are important, but each Emory University application essay helps narrow down prospective students and personalize the admissions process. Focus on writing personal, compelling Emory supplemental essays in order to stand out and give the admission committee a reason to want to admit you. Emory supplemental essays are typically announced around the end of June. In the meantime, in order to prepare for the college application season, familiarize yourself with the Emory supplemental essays of 2021. 

How to answer the “Academic interests” Emory essay prompts

The first Emory University supplemental essay is always the same and is devoted to your academic interests. This essay is 200 words and is often referred to as the “why this major?” essay. The specific Emory essay prompt is: 

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? 

Of course, not all incoming freshman know what they want to major in; don’t let this dissuade you. Use this Emory application essay to convey your passion for and commitment to learning — regardless of whether or not you know what you’d like to study. 

Generally, though, your college essay should answer the following questions: Why this major? How will this major help you achieve your goals? How will Emory University help you specifically? In terms of organization, addressing these questions, in this order, is straightforward, flows well, and is well-structured.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Brainstorm thoroughly before you start writing your Emory personal statement. Jot down bullet points, record your stream of consciousness, or discuss the Emory essay prompt aloud with a friend. Whatever works best for you. The point is, in order to write a powerful, concise supplemental essay (remember, you only have 200 words!), you need to have a clear focus and already know what you want to say. Do your best to communicate your personal connection to your chosen essay prompts when drafting your short answer responses. Otherwise, you risk rambling. Take time to reflect deeply before you jump into this part of college admissions

emory essays

Step 2: Why This Major?

Start your Emory supplement essay by explaining why you are passionate about your prospective major. How did you develop an interest in this subject? When did you encounter or experience this subject for the first time? How will it help you personally and professionally? Why do you believe it is important? 

Be as specific and personal as possible. Ideally, you want to tell a story. A good way to begin this essay is to share a short personal anecdote. Remember though, you only have 200 words so be concise. Just because the essay is brief does not mean it cannot be filled with lots of unique, interesting details.

Step 3: Goals and Aspirations

Discuss some of your greater, post-college goals and aspirations in this Emory University supplemental. This might be highly specific (i.e. a detailed career path), or it may be more abstract (such as pursuing a set of values or ideals). The point is to contextualize your course of study. How does your major fit into the world? Why is it important? What do you hope to accomplish by pursuing this major? Use lots of details.

Be as specific and personal as possible. Ideally, you want to tell a story. A good way to begin this essay is to share a short personal anecdote. Remember though, you only have 200 words so be concise. Just because the essay is brief does not mean it cannot be filled with lots of unique, interesting details.

Step 4: Why Emory?

Conclude your essay by discussing how Emory University, specifically, will help you reach your personal, academic, and professional goals. Again, you want to be as specific as possible, so research the university and your major carefully. Mentioning specific courses, resources, and professors by name will help communicate to the admissions officers that you are committed not only to your education, but to Emory University as well. The admissions officers want to create a dynamic campus community. Therefore, they prioritize admitting applicants who are serious about making the most of Emory University’s unique resources. 

Step 5: Edit and Proofread

Give yourself enough time to proofread and edit. Ask for feedback on your Emory University application essay from your teachers, peers, guidance counselor, parents, etc. Be confident that your essay is free from grammatical errors.  

How to answer the academic interests Emory essay prompts

There are five essay prompts to choose from for the second Emory supplemental essay. Consider each prompt carefully. Your Emory University essays should feel genuine and natural. There are no “right” answers, so don’t get distracted by what you think might sound impressive. The admissions committee wants to get to know you, so always be truthful and genuine. 

Although the specific essay prompts change year to year, they are typically centered around something meaningful in your life that has changed you in some way. This could include an experience you’ve had, a personal insight, or a field you’re passionate about.

Emory Essay Prompt 1

Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

Should you choose this prompt?

Certain areas of the country are much more diverse than others. Only choose this Emory essay prompt if you have real, first-hand experiences of cultural diversity. This is a good prompt to choose if you are an international student, a cultural minority, or grew up in a culturally diverse community. Don’t choose this prompt if you are merely interested in cultural diversity, but do not have any actual, lived experiences to discuss.

The right strategy for this prompt

Like with all of the Emory supplemental essays, be specific, direct, and honest. Do not make up details to make your experience or your reaction seem more impressive. The admission committee wants to see how you interact with others and are able to gain personal insights and integrate them into your actions and worldview. Emory University has a diverse campus culture, so use this essay to show how you can contribute to Emory’s diverse student body and overall sense of community.

Emory Essay Prompt 2

When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?

Should you choose this prompt?

Choose this prompt if you can easily think of a time when you questioned a religious, political, or otherwise deeply personal view. For instance, did you decide to become a vegetarian after watching a documentary about factory farming? Were you raised in a homophobic household but realized that you wanted to be more open and welcoming? 

The right strategy for this prompt

To answer this prompt well, you will need to focus on a specific event. Show how this instance inspired, challenged, and changed you. Emory University values students who are willing and able to challenge their existing beliefs and grow.  Are you intellectually curious? Are you able to change your mind? Are you comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone?

Emory Essay Prompt 3

If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

Should you choose this prompt?

This essay prompt gives you the opportunity to show some of your passions, interests, and values. Choose this prompt if you can think of an answer that clearly resonates with you. Have you always been fascinated by a specific moment in time or a historical event? Perhaps you wish you could go back in time to experience an event that was particularly impactful for a loved one so that you can understand them better. Or maybe you are passionate about Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece.

The right strategy for this prompt

Set the scene and describe the event in detail. Use literary devices such as imagery and metaphors. Then explain why this event is important to you personally. Use the beginning of your essay to share your passion for and knowledge of the subject. Then use the remainder of your essay to explain why you’d like to witness this event.

Emory Essay Prompt 4

Share about a time when you were awestruck.

Should you choose this prompt?

Are you a thoughtful, reflective person? Do you regularly experience awe or feel inspired by nature, music, etc.? This is a great Emory essay prompt to choose if you can think of a powerful instance of feeling inspired.

The right strategy for this prompt

Choose a specific instance to focus on. Even if you are routinely inspired by nature, choose a specific memory and describe it in detail. The admission committee wants to know what moves you and where you find inspiration. Then focus on how this instance of inspiration has had a positive impact on your life. Make sure you clearly communicate how your experience of awe changed you.

Emory Essay Prompt 5

Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

Should you choose this prompt?

This prompt is great for avid readers, musicians, and other creative types. Your connection to this book, character, song, etc.  should feel natural and genuine.

The right strategy for this prompt

Choose something that holds personal meaning to you. Do not try to choose an “impressive” answer. Start your essay by describing the work in detail and then showing how it connects to your larger personality, interests, and passions.

Emory essays that worked: 3 inspiring Emory essay examples

Thankfully Emory University provides top-tier examples every year of successful Emory secondary essays. In this article we will look at several Emory essay examples and discuss why each of these Emory personal statements is successful. 

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Emory Essay Example 1

My interest in Gender and Sexuality Studies was sparked in my eighth grade Civics class when we studied topics pertaining to sexual equality. I went into the class knowing I believed women had a right to make choices for their own bodies and that view remained the same, but I discovered the complexity of abortion debates. I challenged myself by thinking about the disparity between actual and potential personhood and the moral rights of unconscious lives. If pregnancy had the same consequences for men as it does women, how might the debate be different? Would this debate even exist? 

A year later, I shadowed an OB/GYN at a nearby hospital. On my first shift, I watched an incarcerated woman receive a postpartum exam after giving birth in her cell toilet with just Advil, and the issues discussed in Civics suddenly became urgent and real.

My school projects have often focused on reproductive rights. I’ve spent numerous hours delving into summaries of Supreme Court cases on abortion and contraception, and I’m even known as the “Tampon Fairy” at school because I frequently restock the school bathrooms with tampons and condoms.  

I’m interested in exploring how Gender and Sexuality Studies connect to Public Health and Reproductive Biology, as well as Public Policy and Law. The interdisciplinary nature of this major will allow me to investigate many other areas of study and create a more nuanced understanding of how this particular field interacts with our world and society. 

There is no one “right” way to write successful Emory supplementals. In fact, Emory University says “We encourage you to be thoughtful and not stress about what the right answer might be. We simply want to get to know you better.” A general sense of direction can be helpful, however, so here are some helpful tips to get you started on your Emory essays. 

Why did this essay work?

This essay is concise, contains interesting details, and follows a clear narrative arc. The student shows how she is willing to change her mind and follow her passion in interesting ways. This student is clearly passionate about her course of study and shows a commitment to the subject matter, academically through her research, and personally through their unique actions as the “Tampon Fairy.” This Emory personal statement is detailed, emotional, passionate, and grants the reader insight into the student’s various ways of learning and interacting with the world. 

Emory Essay Example 2

“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” the book goes, then the mouse will ask for a glass of milk. If you ask me a question, I’ll answer with another question. 

I’m naturally inquisitive. As a girl, I’d interrogate my parents during 13-hour flights to Beijing: “If we’re traveling to a later time zone, does that mean we’re entering the future?” or “If planes have autopilot, why do we need pilots?” 

Today, my curiosity has transitioned to topics like thermodynamics. Through questioning, I’ve made boring lectures more engaging for me and my peers, while also helping us better internalize the information and develop an appreciation for scientific theories—the ideal gas law and atomic configuration—that help us make sense of our surroundings. 

Questioning my surroundings has allowed me to find my voice in the crowd, letting me step out of my comfort zone while furthering my and my peers’ knowledge.

Why did this essay work?

The opening of this essay is creative and concise. This fictional mouse is known for its dizzying insistence and humor and is an effective cultural touchstone. It hooks the reader, is witty, and demonstrates the student’s personality clearly. Overall, this essay covers a lot of ground in a short amount of space, spanning from childhood to present day. It is humorous, warm, and clearly demonstrates the student’s inquisitive nature and how this will enhance Emory’s academic culture.

Emory Essay Example 3

In 2018, I was eager to see the Senate vote on DACA, an issue I only knew through debate, so I sat in the Senate gallery for 8 hours, surrounded by DREAMers in neon-orange shirts. When Senator McConnell quoted the White House calling the DREAMers unlawful immigrants, we exchanged grimaces. When Senator Schumer listed all he was willing to give up to save DACA, I smiled at the woman next to me. 

As we sat for hours with no food, water, or bathroom breaks, I began to understand the gravity of the issue, realizing the impact 60 people can have on millions, through just one vote. After the government shut down without passing protections for DREAMers, I understood the human impact of our immigration policies. This experience expanded my awareness of the struggle that immigrants go through, and I recognized my responsibility in seeking justice for others. 

Why did this essay work?

This Emory secondary essay hones in on a specific event and shows how the student is willing and able to learn and form new opinions, and apply personal insights to policy. The fact that the student attended this Senate Vote shows that they actively seek out new learning experiences, surround themselves with new people and communities, and are eager to enact change.

Extra tips for a killer Emory supplemental essay

There is no one “right” way to write successful Emory supplementals. In fact, Emory University says “We encourage you to be thoughtful and not stress about what the right answer might be. We simply want to get to know you better.” A general sense of direction can be helpful, however, so here are some helpful tips to get you started on your Emory essays. 

emory essays

Include lots of details. Try to be as specific as possible. Use precise words. You only have 200 words or less to communicate something important in each of these supplemental essays. Do your best to make each word count


Establish a tone. Emory University wants to know who you are, so try your best to convey your personality. Try to write the way you talk. If you’re bubbly and personable, do your best to convey that. If you’re shy and thoughtful, try to communicate that. If you have an interesting sense of humor, use that!


Choose a unique topic or approach your topic in a unique way. You want to be memorable so brainstorm interesting topics or unique ways to structure your essay. For example, if you love theater,  write your essay with stage directions. If you’re involved in orchestra, use music theory vocabulary to discuss something non music-related. Your topic itself could be fairly common and straightforward, but if you have an interesting, unique way of discussing it, you’ll have a better chance of being remembered.


Connect your story with the present. The experience you write about doesn’t necessarily have to be recent, but try to convey how your experiences continue to have meaning in the present. The admission committee wants to know how you learn, grow, and create meaning. 

Key takeaways on Emory essays

There are lots of factors to consider when writing a successful Emory supplemental. There are countless decisions to make about your topic, which Emory essay prompt to choose, vocabulary, style, etc. but there are also some more logistical questions to consider. In the following section, we will go over some of these frequently asked questions and answers.


Emory requires 2 supplemental essays. The first essay is academic-focused and is 200 words. The second essay is more reflective and should grant the admissions committee insight into your personality. Emory supplemental essays give you the opportunity to make your application stand out and be memorable.

Emory University is a test-optional school that allows students to either self-report or send official score reports. The test-optional application component, along with the two ways of reporting is meant to increase student accessibility. The writing portion of the SAT is also optional for this reason. 

Emory supplemental essay prompts come out during the summer, typically around the end of June. The first essay prompt, however, is always the same: What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? The five essay prompts for the “getting to know you” essay vary year to year. Past essay prompts, however, can help you begin brainstorming before the prompts are available. Check the Emory website to stay up to date. 

Think outside the box! How can you be creative while still being genuine? If your essay is gimmicky, the admissions staff will know. Authenticity is key. There are lots of ways to stand out. Think about what makes you unique and brainstorm from there. The possibilities are endless!

Emory University is a highly-selective institution with an 18% acceptance rate. Lots of qualified students apply, but there are only so many available slots. Emory supplemental essays give you a chance to stand out from your peers by sharing who you are as a person and what you care about. Choose your essay question carefully; ideally, choose a prompt that differs from your common app college essay