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Admissions Basics: Letters of Recommendation

March 18, 2021

Not all graduate schools are equal, but one thing they have in common is that they want those who are closest to you to vouch for you when applying to their programs. Requesting letters of recommendation may be familiar if you did it for your undergraduate degree, but the process should take a good deal of thought and planning. When you’re applying to a program that you really want, you need to find someone who will paint you in the best light possible.

To help you get started, we’ve gathered and answered some of the most frequently asked questions graduate program applicants have about letters of recommendation. Hopefully, these will be helpful as you navigate the application process to one of the online programs at the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University.

When should you request letters of recommendation?

The first step in the recommendation letter process is reviewing and noting the upcoming application deadlines for your desired program. Select the term you’d like to start as early as you can. This will give you plenty of time to plan how you’ll meet the admissions requirements, which will benefit you and your recommenders.

You should also choose your writers and request the letters of recommendation from them as early as possible. This allows you to select a backup option in the event that any of your choices are unable to write a letter for you. Giving them advance notice will show that you value their time and input, as well as giving them the time to draft the most effective letter possible on your behalf.

As an example, two letters of recommendation are required for admission to the Online MBA program at Yeshiva Syms. However, you shouldn’t wait until you’re filling out the application form to reach out to your recommenders. Any kind of advance notice you can give them will only improve the quality of your recommendation.

Who should write your recommendation letters?

The rules for selecting effective writers for recommendation letters aren’t written in stone, but there are some important factors to consider.

Your first step in this process is to check if the program you’re applying to has guidelines or requirements for who constitutes a strong recommender. If you can’t find this information on the program website, ask an advisor for insight into the admissions committee’s preferences.

Generally, master’s programs want to hear from managers and colleagues who can vouch for your business acumen in professional settings. Some programs specifically request that the recommenders you choose be academic or professional. Make sure they’re very familiar with your work ethic, potential for business success, and are a champion for your personal character.

No matter who you choose, your relationship with them should be strong and positive. An added bonus would be if you can find a recommender who meets this criteria and has a personal or professional connection to your school of choice.

How do you ask someone to write on your behalf?

As we said before, starting as early as possible pays off. Try to broach the topic of recommendation letters while you’re still in the early stages of browsing schools. You don’t need to have a specific program or university in mind to contact your manager, professor, advisor, mentor, etc. and ask if they’d be willing to help you.

If your recommenders are people you see every day or speak with frequently, it makes sense to bring up the request in casual conversation. If you choose to ask someone whom you haven’t spoken to for some time, such as a professor whose class you loved years ago, a short but formal email should work.

Whether or not your recommender comes from an academic or professional background, it’s likely that they’ll understand the implicit compliment in you choosing them to write a recommendation letter. If you have a solid relationship with this person, they’ll likely be more than happy to assist you in pursuing a higher education degree.

Where should you send your letters of recommendation?

This stage of the recommendation letter process can differ for each school. Some programs ask that your recommenders send the letters directly to the university via email or U.S. mail. Others ask that the letters be uploaded through a form that is part of the online application system.

The latter of these two options is the case for the online master’s programs at Sy Syms. Applicants are asked to provide the names and email addresses of their recommenders as they fill out the online application form. The application system then reaches out to the recommender directly with instructions for how to submit their letter. This helps keep the process as straightforward as possible and minimizes any opportunities for miscommunication or missed deadlines. If you have questions about this process within the application portal, reach out to an Admissions Advisor for assistance.

Start Your Application Today at Yeshiva University

Whether you’re interested in real estate, business, or business analytics, Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business is designed to help further your career in all aspects. Here, you’ll study under Syms’ faculty of successful business leaders and well-published academics and have access to our powerful network in New York and beyond.

Check out the application requirements for any of our online programs and start your application today.