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MBA recommendation letter

3 Tips for Securing a Strong Letter of Recommendation

The strength of your MBA recommendation letter depends greatly who you choose to write it.

As the only part of your MBA application that’s not created by you, letters of recommendation offer admissions officers a third-party view into your characters, strengths, and goals.

Jessica Chung, an admissions officer at Fortuna Admissions, recently offered tips for how to choose the right recommender and secure a quality letter.


Ideally, your recommender should be your direct supervisor or someone who can speak to your quality of work, accomplishments, and potential.

“If someone knows you well and can give insight into you, your skills and abilities and the things that make you a great MBA candidate, you’re going to have a more robust and positive letter,” says Coni Zingarelli, executive director of recruiting, admissions and student financial services at Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

If you can’t ask your supervisor, consider looking for someone who can speak to your strengths, qualities, and potential.

“This might be an indirect supervisor — someone who has overseen a project you’ve contributed to, a manager from another department, or a client (especially if you’re self-employed),” Chung says. “You might also consider someone you worked with outside of your regular job in a role or project where you made a significant impact (such as volunteer or pro bono work). Such insight can drive home the fact that you’ll be a great contributor to the community during your time in business school.”


While your recommender should know you well, you shouldn’t expect that they have everything they need to write a quality letter. Chung recommends setting your recommender up for success by walking them through the process and providing key details.

“Give them an overview of the points the letter should cover, and some reminders of times you demonstrated key strengths and skills,” Chung says. “Make sure you share your career plans and reasons for pursuing an MBA, and the key themes about your unique experiences and character that you will weave throughout your application. Ideally, your recommender will echo these themes in their letter, reinforcing and validating your points.”


To ensure the best possible letter, be sure to give your recommenders at least four weeks of lead time. Chung recommends even more time to account for any delays.

“Be clear about the deadlines and ask about any potential obstacles in their schedule,” Chung says. “Then be sure to stay in contact with your recommenders over the ensuing weeks to make sure they have all the information they need and are clear on how they need to deliver the letter of recommendation.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, US News


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