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Application Tips: Recommendations

Kristen Mercuri
Deputy Director, Admissions

Hi, my name is Kristen Mercuri and I oversee recruiting and outreach for the Admissions team at Yale SOM.

I’d like to offer some additional guidance on this section of the application, your recommendations. Recommendations are a way for us to get a different perspective on your candidacy from people who have worked with you and who know you well.

Unless you are applying as an undergraduate student, your two recommendations should be professional in nature. Many candidates ask us who are the best people to write their recommendations. Our answer is that they should be people who know your work well and preferably who are senior to you (so no peers or subordinates). Ideally one of your recommendations will be from your current supervisor. However, sometimes this is not possible. Maybe that person is a family member, or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, or maybe you haven’t told your supervisor you are considering leaving to earn your MBA. In these cases, we would suggest you look to your most recent former supervisor. In general, we care about the quality of the recommendation, not the title of the recommender. The more insight your recommenders can provide in their evaluations, the better we’re able to understand your story and gauge your potential.

You may also want to think about finding two recommenders who can speak to different strengths and skills sets.

We encourage you to reach out to your recommenders in advance and schedule some time to talk with them about your desire to earn an MBA. Maybe even reflect on some of the growth experiences you’ve had and how you expect to add value to an MBA community. This can be great preparation for them to write you a thoughtful and comprehensive recommendation.

We do suggest, however, that you do not send your recommenders your essays or other written materials because they may incorporate them into their recommendations. Seeing the same language in your essays and recommendations may raise concerns to us about the independence of the recommendations, even if you were only trying to be helpful to your recommenders.

Finally, please note that this year we are allowing recommenders to submit their recommendations in Mandarin and Spanish and we will translate the recommendations on our end. The hope is that doing this will make things easier for recommenders who do not speak English and will give you more options in your choice of recommenders.