One of the key pieces of an MBA application is the letter of recommendation. This letter, usually written by managers, gives the admissions committee an insightful perspective on the MBA candidate. However, since each program has their own unique form, and candidates are often hesitant to ask managers to fill out multiple recommendations, applicants often limit the number of programs to which they apply. Recommenders frequently cannot dedicate enough time to such letters, resulting in less thorough and perceptive recommendations.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the Common Letter of Recommendation was born out of the need to save recommenders and alumni time by enabling them to complete one, common, set of questions. Since the questions stay embedded in each school’s existing application system, few major changes are necessary. The Common LOR was developed by a group of leading business schools in conjunction with GMAC. These programs are leading the way, with the support of GMAC, to collaborate, collect information from industry professionals, and collate information from candidates worldwide.
Benefits of the Common LOR
- Delivers deeper understanding of candidates by applying the best practices from top programs and using the most up-to-date science in executive assessment
- Allows for a wider diversity of prospective students and a greater number of applicants by enabling them to ask for multiple LORs.
- Reduces recommenders’ time demands so they can devote more consideration to crafting a thoughtful and attuned letter.
Common LOR sections
The Common LOR is comprised of the following four sections:
- Personal Information About the Recommender
- Leadership Assessment Grid: Made up of 12 competencies and character traits that lead to successful leadership. They are divided into these five groups:
- Personal Qualities
- Cognitive Abilities
- Recommendation Questions (Open-Ended Questions for Recommenders)
- Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant, and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.
- How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (e.g., what are the applicant’s principal strengths?).
- Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
- Is there anything else we should know? (Optional)
Schools currently using the Common LOR form
|Asia School of Business – in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management
|Boston College – Carroll School of Management
|Boston University – Questrom School of Business
|Brandeis International Business School
|Carnegie Melon – Tepper School of Business
|College of William & Mary – Mason School of Business
|Cornell University – SC Johnson School of Business
|Dartmouth University – Tuck School of Business
|Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business
|Emory University – Goizueta Business School
|Fudan University – School of Management
|Georgetown University – McDonough School of Business
|Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business
|Indian School of Business
|MIT Management Sloan School
|New York University – Stern School of Business
|Northeastern University, D’Amore-McKim School of Business
|Notre Dame – Mendoza School of Business
|Penn State University – SMEAL College of Business
|RICE University Jones Graduate School of Business
|Sabanci University – Sabanci School of Management
|Santa Clara University – Leavey School of Business
|Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of Business
|Stanford Graduate School of Business
|Southern Methodist University – Cox School of Business
|The College of New Jersey
|The University of Texas at Austin – McCombs School of Business
|UC Davis Graduate School of Management
|UCI Paul Merage School of Business
|UCLA Anderson School of Management
|UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
|University of Florida – Warrington College of Business
|University of Georgia – Terry College of Business
|University of Kansas School of Business
|University of Michigan – Ross School of Business
|University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management
|University of Rochester – Simon Business School
|University of San Francisco – School of Management
|University of Virginia – Darden School of Business
|Vanderbilt – Owen Graduate School of Management
|Washington University in St. Louis – Olin Business School
|Yale School of Management
The widespread uptake of the common LOR is due in part to the longstanding lobbying of admissions professionals. Anna Ivey, former president of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), welcomed the development of more schools embracing the shared LOR model: “Applicants have for years found themselves in quite a pickle because they have had to dump so much work on their recommenders. In some cases, their recommenders have had to write more words than the applicants do in their essays. That has created all kinds of distortions, despite good intentions.
“Any convergence around common recommendation questions not only makes the application process easier for applicants and their recommenders, but also helps preserve the integrity of those recommendations and the application process. Cutting down on the duplication and extra work for recommenders will make it more likely that recommenders write their letters themselves, and that’s a great outcome.”
We can help you take advantage of the common LOR to get the most from your recommenders and supercharge your application. Our experienced consultants also work with recommenders to provide guidance in crafting compelling letters that will set you on the road to getting ACCEPTED!