Reference Letters – Alberta MBA Application Series

Are reference letters an important part of the application?

As part of your application to the Alberta MBA, you will be asked to provide two letters of reference in support of your application. The Admissions Committee evaluates applications holistically and reference letters play an important role in verifying your work experience, responsibilities, and on-the-job performance. Some specific areas we ask your references about are communication skills, ability to work with others, and leadership potential. Not to be overlooked as part of your application, we have turned away some otherwise well-qualified applicants based on some less than stellar reference letters.

Who to Ask?

When thinking of who to ask to provide a reference for your Alberta MBA application, try to think about a current or previous manager or supervisor who worked closely with you. References should come from someone who knows you well in a work setting and are able to comment on your overall performance. Asking the most senior person in your organization to write a reference letter may not be the best approach, especially if that individual hasn’t supervised your work and is not in a position to speak to your accomplishments at work.  The same caution would apply to academic references if you are asking a previous professor to provide a reference, make sure it is someone who knows you and can highlight some of your accomplishments (rather than just your overall class standing or other information that is apparent on your transcripts).

For entrepreneurs or those working in a family business, you may not have an obvious place to look for professional letters of reference.  We’d suggest approaching long-term clients, suppliers, or other individuals you have numerous interactions with to provide an impartial letter of reference.

What Does the Process Look Like?

Once you have decided who you would like to use as references, you could ask to meet for coffee or chat briefly over the phone. This way, you are able to provide more information on the program to which you are applying, and that they can expect to receive the reference letter request via email.

For your Alberta MBA application, you will enter the name, job title, relationship to you, and contact details for two referees when completing your online application. The two references will automatically be sent a reference letter template via email which they will fill out. Once they complete and submit the form, their letter of reference will be automatically sent back to us.  References have the option to upload an additional written letter if they choose, although this is not required. Reference letters can take time, so it is a good idea to keep in touch with your reference so you know when they have completed their part in your application.

It is important to note that reference letters are often the last items of an application to come in, and the Admissions Committee will not review your application until all required documents have been received. If we notice that your reference letters seem to be taking longer than normal, someone from our office may reach out to offering assistance in getting your application complete and ready for review.

What Does a Good Reference Letter Include?

 Since you’ve already spoken with your referees to make sure they are in agreement to provide a letter of reference, you should expect the letter they submit to be generally positive. That being said, asking your referees to include as many specific examples as possible would increase the impact of the reference letter.  For anyone working in a very technical field, it would also be worthwhile to mention to your referee that the individual reading the reference letter may not have the same level of technical expertise.

Overall, reference letters give the Admissions Committee insight into how great you really are, so be sure to select them wisely!

For more information on the Alberta MBA please click here.