MBA applicants must submit two letters of recommendation. Professional recommendations are preferred and should come from individuals who are able to speak with certainty about your professional achievements and potential. Recommenders must submit recommendations online. Sloan does not accept mailed recommendations. Recommendations may be in either letter or short-answer format and should not exceed two pages each.
Your recommenders should be prepared to answer the following questions:
MIT affiliation. Recommenders may select if they have graduated from MIT or MIT Sloan, or whether they serve on faculty or staff. However, applicants are not recommended to try to find a recommender who happens to be affiliated with the school.
Preferred contact. [Email/phone] MIT Sloan may occasionally reach out to a recommender for clarification or verification. These are rare instances where the school suspects that the applicant wrote his or her own recommendation or something else in the recommendation causes concern.
Applicant rating. Your recommender will then be asked to rate you “in relation to other high potential people [they] know” on the following criteria: leadership potential, creativity and resourcefulness, intellectual curiosity, energy and initiative, ability to work in a team, oral and written communication skills, presence, and analytical thinking and reasoning. They will rate you on a 1 to 6 scale: 1) Outstanding – Top 2%, 2) Very Good – Top 10%, 3) Above Average – Top 25%, 4) Average – Top 50%, 5) Below Average – Bottom 50%, or 6) Unobserved. Pay close attention to these attributes on which your recommenders will rate you. These align perfectly with the type of candidates MIT Sloan is looking for, so you’ll want to find ways to showcase them in your resume, online application, and essays, if possible.
Recommendation letter. Your recommenders will then upload a document that responds to several questions. We include the instructions and questions below so that you may select recommenders who can most thoroughly answer the admissions committee’s questions:
We are interested in specific examples of intellectual and professional achievement and how they might relate to graduate study in management and in a career as a manager or business leader. In addition, we are very interested in the character of the applicant and will be helped by any information in that regard.
We have posted a series of questions and scenarios for you to answer. The letters that are most helpful to the applicant are those that utilize the template below and point to actual observations of the candidate’s actions. If you do not feel sufficiently informed to answer a particular question, please indicate ‘not observed’ or ‘not applicable’.
Please compose your answers to the following questions in one document and then upload below. Recommendations should be no longer than two pages.
- 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.
Selecting your recommenders. The admissions committee strongly prefers professional recommenders to academic ones, such as a former professor. The best recommenders are people who can provide very detailed examples of your actions and behavior. In general, the admissions committee will be far more impressed by a genuine and passionate letter from a middle manager who is your supervisor than a polite letter from a well-known CEO that lacks depth and detailed anecdotes about you. Look for people who can speak very clearly about your performance in relation to peers. In other words, don’t ask your company’s CEO, whom you might or might not have met once in the cafeteria. And hopefully you don’t need to be told this, but MIT Sloan does not accept recommendations from family members.
Should I draft it myself? Many applicants to business school are asked by their superiors to draft the recommendation themselves and the recommender will approve it. We strongly recommend that you do not write the recommendation yourself for several reasons. First, your writing style and choice of phrasing are unique, and admissions officers will notice if the recommendations are similar to each other and your essays. If they notice too many similarities, your application could be denied outright. Second, you may tend to be too humble or generic. Your supervisor might use language such as “one of the top analysts I’ve seen in my entire career” that you wouldn’t dare include if writing on his or her behalf. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the admissions officer is looking for a third-party perspective on your candidacy, so writing a recommendation yourself is an unethical breach of trust with the school you are looking to join.
Preparing your recommenders. Instead of writing the recommendation yourself, you should sit down and have candid conversations with your recommenders about the reasons you want to go to business school and why you’ve selected your target schools, your professional goals, and your experience together. Ask them if they would have the time to write a strong recommendation on your behalf. (This also gives them a nice “out” by telling you that they are too busy rather than saying they don’t feel comfortable giving you a positive recommendation.) Bring a copy of your resume and a bulleted list of projects you’ve worked on together and accomplishments they have seen you achieve. Let them know that the admissions committees prefer to see specific, detailed examples in recommendations. Then, let them know that you’ll serve as a “project manager” to follow up and ensure that they are able to submit your recommendation ahead of the deadline.