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MIT Asks Applicants To Write Own Recs

Headshot of Dawna Levenson, who discusses the new MIT recommendation letter requirement.

MIT Sloan Admissions Director Dawna Levenson

MIT’s Sloan School of Management today (June 12) asked applicants to its full-time MBA program to write their own professional letters of recommendation.

The decision to make the change–announced on the school’s website–follows reports that a high percentage of MBA candidates are often asked by recommenders to craft their own endorsement letters. MIT Sloan will still require applicants to submit two recommendations from outside parties.

“MIT Sloan is always looking for innovative ways to assess our candidates,” says Dawna Levenson, director of admissions in a statement. “We believe the questions we are asking will provide us with valuable behavioral information and help us to get to know our applicants better, which is our ultimate goal.”

Dawna adds that self-assessment tools such as 360 Degree and Multirater Feedback processes have been adapted by numerous industries, and MIT Sloan likes to “mirror the realities of the work world.”


Applicants will be expected to answer the following questions in 750 words or less as if they were recommending themselves for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program:

• How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?

• How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?

• Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.

• Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.

• Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?

• Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

Those are the exact same questions recommenders use in writing their recommendations for a candidate to MIT Sloan.

The school also is requiring the following essay question, which it had also posed last year:

“The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)”


MIT Sloan has set a round one deadline of Sept. 23, with notification by Dec. 17, as well as a round two and final application deadline of Jan. 8, 2015, with notification by April 6.

The MIT recommendation letter request replaces the following 500-word question from last year:

“Describe a time [within the last three years] when you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. (500 words/one page max)”

The school also retained its invite for applicants “to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format.”