Letters of Reference

Stories about your behaviors, impact, and personal qualities told by others play an essential role in our evaluation of your application.

Your letters of reference should provide specific examples and anecdotes that illustrate what you have done and how you have done it.

MBA Requirements

Two letters of reference:

  • One reference from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work
  • One reference from someone else who has supervised your work

Both letters of reference must be submitted by the deadline of the round in which you apply. You must not have any involvement in the drafting, writing, translation, or submission of the letters, including having any outside party review the letters before they are submitted.

Current Direct Supervisor Reference

You must obtain at least one recommendation from your current direct supervisor. We understand, however, that you may be in a situation that prevents you from providing a reference from your current direct supervisor. For example, you may:

  • Be self-employed
  • Work for a family business in which a family member is your supervisor
  • Have begun a new position where your direct supervisor does not know you well
  • Have not notified your direct supervisor that you are applying to business school
  • Be a student

If you are unable to provide a letter from your current direct supervisor, use your judgment in finding an alternative source for your recommendation — a previous supervisor, an indirect manager, a client, a member of your board of directors, or any other individual who supervises your work.

If you don’t have full-time work experience, you may use a direct supervisor from a summer, part-time, or internship position. Alternatively, you may ask someone who managed you in an extracurricular, research, volunteer, or community activity.

Second Reference

The second reference should come from someone who has supervised your work. The strongest references typically come from your workplace. You may select a reference from your professional, community, or extracurricular experiences. Having two references from the same organization is fine. We recognize that work environments are fluid, so we give you the option of choosing the individual who can best represent your potential impact.

Choosing Your Recommenders

We are impressed by what a reference letter says, not by the title or background of the individual who wrote it or the writing skills of the recommender. You should choose individuals who:

  • Know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last three years
  • Will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions
  • Are sufficiently enthused to spend time writing a thoughtful letter

Deferred Enrollment

If you are currently a full-time student, we encourage you to select recommenders who have supervised your extracurricular activities or work, such as internships or part-time jobs.

What We Ask Recommenders

Both of your recommenders will be asked to assess you on some character traits and competencies that contribute to successful leadership, and to answer three questions.

Tips on Letters of Reference
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Tips on Letters of Reference
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Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA admissions, offers some tips around choosing recommenders and provides insights on the letters of reference.
A Few Words of Advice

More Is Not Better

While we know there are people excited about you who may want to submit unofficial letters of reference, additional letters are neither necessary nor encouraged. The overwhelming majority of successful applicants do not submit any additional materials. If someone submits an additional letter of reference, we will do our best to add it to your application. However, we cannot guarantee it will be considered.

Language for Recommendations

Your letters of reference must be submitted in English. For references from non-native English speakers, we will ignore minor syntax or grammar errors or awkward phrasing. However, it may be to your advantage to have your recommender write the letter in his/her native language, and then have it translated into English.

Their Words, Not Yours

Do not write your own letter of reference; it is improper and a violation of the terms of the application process. If your recommender asks you to write your own letter, find a different recommender.

Last Updated 16 Jun 2020