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From the Associate Director of Admissions: Navigating the Employer Approval Process

Emily Whitehouse shares tips on talking to your employer about the MBA for Executives program and gaining formal approval for the required time away from work.

One of the most important aspects of our admissions process is ensuring your employer is fully aware of the commitment you’ll be making if you’re admitted to the MBA for Executives program, and that they’re ready and willing to approve of your time out of the office. From start to finish, our program requires you to be on campus for approximately 60 work days within the 22-month period, with its alternating Friday and Saturday schedule and four in-residence weeks spanning the length of the program.

The application’s Employer Approval form is easy to complete—you provide the name and contact information of the person signing off, which generates an email to them if you receive an invitation to interview. However, making this request of your employer may require a more nuanced discussion and some additional preparation. Below, I provide a few things to consider prior to approaching your supervisor:

  • Define your “why.” Share how the application process has solidified your goals and helped you gain clarity around purpose and meaning in your work. Being reflective and taking time to outline your goals can be empowering as you prepare to share your plans with those at work (and all who support you in other aspects of your life, too!). Pro tip: Once you’re in the thick of student life, returning to your reasons for applying can be a good grounding exercise, fortifying you through the rigors of the program.

  • Timing is everything. I encounter many prospective students who are determined and confident in their decision to pursue an MBA, but are more tentative around the question of “when?” While committing to an MBA is a major investment of both time and money, I maintain that both are well spent in pursuit of this program.

    First, review the application deadlines and make a plan for that timeline. Next, consider how much time you’ll need to prepare for a conversation with your employer. Factor in the possibility that you may need to connect more than once to discuss upcoming work projects and make a short list of who might take the lead when you’re out of the office. If you hesitate, this can make for an awkward conversation if you receive an invitation to interview and did not notify your employer beforehand. A clued-in and prepared supervisor will be in the best position to receive the Employer Approval form.

  • Set the stage. Undoubtedly, you and your supervisor are both very busy. Set aside time to provide context around your decision to pursue an MBA. Be prepared to discuss the time commitment required with clarity and honesty and to answer their questions relating to the time commitment and logistics related to dividing your time.

  • Connect with like-minded peers. Pursuing an EMBA has become increasingly popular, and there are likely peers within your organization or network who have completed this degree. Schedule time with them to discuss your interest in pursuing a similar path. Learn about their experience and ask what value the degree added to their life, both personally and professionally. Ask their advice regarding how they prioritized commitments to family, outside interests, and their careers alongside school. Get their top tips on gaining employer approval and how they managed to remain productive, effective, and high-performing while in school.

  • Identify the unique value proposition. Discovering the value for your team and organization is a great frame when talking to your supervisor. An appealing part of an executive MBA format is that you apply what you learn in the classroom at work, immediately—I’ve confirmed with current students that the benefit is quickly realized! Research the learning outcomes from Yale SOM’s unique integrated core curriculum and areas of focus, investigate faculty and their research, and identify resources and opportunities through the Yale network that relate to your employer’s objectives. How does your experience of gaining knowledge, skills, and insight put you in a position to better your organization? What courses will you take to enhance your leadership skills? Let your employer know the value and return on investment that an MBA would offer for your professional development, and for the continued growth of your company.

  • Added perks. Going through the process of gaining employer approval can provide clarity of purpose and can expand your network, leading to new possibilities. Much can be learned from those who came before you—colleagues who have accelerated their careers within the organization, created allies in support of continued education, and transitioned into a rigorous and intense educational opportunity. Some applicants have found unanticipated funding through benefits policies within their organizations. For those who have come up against some resistance, it can be valuable to understand the culture of their organization and receive valuable feedback toward a future application. Stay curious and keep an open mind!

Our admissions team coaches many applicants through this process, and we work diligently to provide the most up-to-date information and support. If you have questions regarding the employer approval process, check out the Engaging Your Employer page on our website and listen in our new Application Tips Clips podcast. Lastly, reach out and connect with a member of our team at or complete a pre-assessment to help you determine if the MBA for Executives at Yale SOM aligns with your aspirations and career evolution.

I wish you the very best as you prepare to connect with your supervisor. If you enter the conversation with these tips in mind, I think it’s safe to say you’ve got this!

All my best,

Emily Whitehouse
Associate Director of Admissions, MBA for Executives
Yale School of Management
PO Box 208200 | 165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520
T: +1 203-436-9952