Admissions Tips: Letters of Recommendation

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Letters of recommendation are an important part of your application, as it allows the Admissions Committee to learn about you from other people’s perspective. Here are some helpful tips and FYIs to help you select and prepare your recommenders:

How many?
Two letters of recommendation are required of each applicant.

Who to ask?
While not required, we strongly encourage one of your recommenders to be your current supervisor. For the second letter, you can chose a previous supervisor, your mentor, or someone who knows you well from volunteer/community service activities, for example. Most recommendations are professional in nature. This is logical, as the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs are designed for full-time working professionals. 

What if I don’t have a direct supervisor?
You can get creative and select recommenders from your professional life -- a client, board member, business partner, previous supervisor, etc. In the application, you will explain why you chose your recommenders.

How do they submit?
The whole process is online. As soon as you add their information into your application, they are emailed a link with instructions. They are asked to rank you on a variety of skills and competencies, then they upload a letter. 

Timing of submission
We understand letters are out of your control. As much as you try to remind and nudge, your recommenders may wait until the deadline to submit. You are more than welcome to submit your application before your letters have be submitted. Your recommenders will still be able to submit, and you will receive email notifications when we receive the letters. Your application will not go to committee for review until it is complete.

 Helpful Tips for Selecting Recommenders

  • Tip #1: If you have a direct supervisor but did not select them, be sure to explain why in your application. The most common reason is because you recently started a new job and feel your previous supervisor will be able to write a more detailed letter. This is a perfectly acceptable reason.
  • Tip #2: Think about recency and the strength of relationship when selecting your recommenders. A professor you knew 5+ years ago from undergrad will not be able to write a current and relevant letter about who you are today and why you will benefit from an MBA. Also, selecting someone with a high-level, fancy title does not mean very much to us if you’ve not worked closely with that person.
  • Tip #3: Choose your recommenders early in your application process and have a discussion in advance. Take them out for coffee or lunch to make the ask, and also tell them why you are pursuing an MBA. Preparing them will make for more detailed and meaningful letters.
  • Tip #4: Sometimes the link goes to one’s spam or junk file. Be sure to confirm that your recommenders received the link shortly after you add them into your application. 

I hope this helps prepare you for the letters of recommendation portion of your application. If you have any questions about your specific situation, do not hesitate to email the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Admissions team at eveningweekend-admissions@chicagobooth.edu. We look forward to getting to know more about you by reading your recommendations!

Photo of Kara Northcutt  Kara Northcutt is director of Admissions and marketing for the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA Programs