Letters of Recommendation

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

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

We require two letters of recommendation: one recommendation from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work, and one recommendation from someone else who has supervised you. We do not allow letters of recommendation from family members and current or former direct reports.

Both letters of recommendation 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 or edit the letters before they are submitted.

First Recommendation

Current Direct Supervisor or Next Best Alternative

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 recommendation 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

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.

Second Recommendation

Someone Else Who Has Supervised You

The strongest recommendations typically come from your workplace. You may select a recommendation from your professional, community, or extracurricular experiences. Having two recommendations 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 recommendation 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, including thoughts about your leadership expertise, managerial performance, and executive potential
  • Are sufficiently enthused to spend time writing a thoughtful letter

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. Here are the questions we ask recommenders:

  1. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Provide specific examples. (e.g., what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) — Up to 500 words
  2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. — Up to 500 words
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

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 recommendation must be submitted in English. For recommendations from non-native English speakers, we will look past minor syntax or grammar errors or awkward phrasing. However, it may be to your advantage to ask your recommender to write the letter in his/her native language. Your recommender should then have the recommendation translated into English by a paid translation service or a colleague or friend of theirs. If a letter is translated into English, your recommender should upload the letter both in the language in which they wrote it and in English, and provide contact information for the translator.