Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Columbia | Ms. Growth Strategy
GMAT 700, GPA 3.83
Emory Goizueta | Mr. English Teacher
GMAT 680 (plan to re-take), GPA 3.78
Harvard | Mr. Brightside
GMAT 760, GPA 3.93
Harvard | Ms. Social Enterprise/Healthcare
GRE 324, GPA 3.5
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Dyslexic Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. 10 Years In Finance
GMAT Not Required / Waived, GPA 2.65
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Harvard | Mr. Australian Navy
GMAT 770, GPA 3.74
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Former SEC Athlete
GMAT 620, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. FMCG Enthusiast Seeking Second MBA
GMAT 730, GPA 3.1
NYU Stern | Ms. Civil Servant To Fortune 50
GRE Writing May 31st, GPA Undergrad: 3.0, Graduate: 3.59
MIT Sloan | Ms. Designer Turned Founder
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. Strategist
GMAT 750, GPA 73%, top of the class (gold medalist)
Berkeley Haas | Mr. All About Impact
Harvard | Mr. Forbes U30 & Big Pharma
GMAT 640, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Ross | Mr. FP&A
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Ms. Not-For-Profit
INSEAD | Mr. Big Chill 770
GMAT 770, GPA 3-3.2
Harvard | Mr. Captain Mishra
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Ross | Mr. Dragon Age
GRE 327, GPA 2.19/4.0
Wharton | Ms. Type-A CPG PM
GMAT 750, GPA 3.42
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9

Stanford vs. Harvard: MBA Letters Of Recommendation

Stanford vs. Harvard: MBA Letters Of Recommendation

Both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School require two letters of recommendation.

Karla Cohen, an expert coach at Fortuna Admissions and the former Harvard Business School associate director of doctoral programs, recently spoke to Kirsten Moss, Stanford GSB admissions director, on how applicants should approach MBA letters of recommendation for both Stanford GSB and HBS. 


At Stanford GSB, the application asks for one reference from a current direct supervisor and another from someone else who has supervised your work. HBS doesn’t have such specific requirements on the referrer but simply asks applicants to “use your best judgment on who you decide to ask – there is no set formula for who should be your recommenders.”

Both Moss and Cohen stress that it’s not so much the title of your referrer that matters, but rather, the extent to which they’ve seen your growth and development over time.

“I always say to candidates, think about the stories that you’re most proud of, the things that you’ve done – and it can be six-eight years [ago], go back through college – and when you think about those stories, where you’ve accomplished something, who do you know who could tell us about that story from a different lens?… Who’s actually seen me do it? Who’s been in the trenches?” Moss says. “For us it doesn’t matter what their title is, whether they’re an alum or not. It really is, who can tell us, and show us, the scope and scale of those accomplishments?”


It’s important to give your recommenders adequate context to craft a strong letter of recommendation.

“Sit down with them, make a list, refresh their memories on your achievements and the ways you’ve demonstrated excellence,” Cohen writes. “Make sure they understand your MBA goals and aspirations, and talk through the different examples and get buy-in on ways they might convey your best qualities. They may see things that you haven’t seen, so you want that to be a conversation. This is about facilitating a process, not spoon-feeding them the material that they’re going to write.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Next Page: What Columbia Business School Seeks In MBA Applicants

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