Cover Letter For Admission To Business School

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

So you’ve decided to go to graduate school and obtain your master’s in business administration — your MBA. Simple, right?

Not necessarily, especially if you are applying to one of the premier MBA programs, where applications can outnumber accepted students by a 50 to 1 ratio. This article will help you through the most important steps in completing your MBA applications.

Keep in mind that the factors that most graduate business programs consider in the admission decision include:
  1. scores from the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test);
  2. prior academic record;
  3. employment history; and
  4. recommendations of instructors, employers, or others.

Your first step is identifying the best MBA programs to fit your needs in terms of program type, faculty, placement, cost, location, etc. — and, based on their admissions formula, would be likely to accept you in their program.

Once you have narrowed down your choices to a select few MBA programs, your main task is then to complete each application as completely and professionally as possible — remembering all the time that you are completing these documents that they are all marketing tools to help position you as an ideal graduate candidate.

The key components of your applications package include the application form, your resume or CV, your personal essay, letters of recommendation, and placement exam scores.

The MBA Application Form

The application form is the cornerstone of your graduate school application. While many graduate admissions forms will ask for the same types of information, some will be much more detailed than others, and you should pay careful attention to the specific elements of each application form.

Next make note of each program’s admission deadlines — many having rolling admissions windows — and plan sufficient time to complete all the application forms.

Finally, if possible, type all your information onto the forms. Typing presents a more professional look to the application form. If you must print, do so as neatly as possible and avoid all mistakes.

Your Resume or CV for Your MBA Application

It should go without saying that your resume or curriculum vitae (CV) is an essential part of your MBA application, and you must have a current and professional resume to include with your application.

Your resume should be tailored to the specifics of each graduate program, just as it would be for different employers. However, common elements on all versions of your resume should focus on:

  • key accomplishments and skills
  • evidence of managerial and leadership skills and experiences
  • exposure to work teams and team leadership
  • identification of your USP.

Consider adding an objective to each version of your resume stating your goal of entering that school’s MBA program.

Need more information about resumes? Check out all of our Resume Resources.

Your MBA Application Personal Essay

We strongly suggest you read Writing the Graduate School Application Essay. And our friends at, the premier application essay editing service, offer a free course on writing application essays (as well as some great services for a small fee).

It is absolutely critical that your personal essay be a shining beacon of your planning, thinking, and writing abilities. Make no mistake that these essays are taken lightly. Write and rewrite several drafts — and get outside opinions and feedback — before you complete your personal essay.

What types of topics are applicants asked to write about? Here are just a few examples (from our friends at

  • Why do you want an MBA?
  • What are your career plans once you receive your MBA?
  • If you could walk in someone else’s shoes for a day, whose would you choose and why?
  • Who are your role models — and why?
  • Describe a situation that tested your leadership skills. How did you manage the situation?
  • What interests do you have outside your job and school?
  • Describe yourself and the significant events that have shaped you.

You can find lots of general writing tips and resources in our companion site, Indispensable Writing Resources.

Letters of Recommendation for Gradute Studies

Most MBA programs request two or three letters of recommendation, or request that you have two or three references complete a recommendation form. Your critical task is choosing the right set of people to complete the forms or write the letters.

Most importantly, make sure to ask people who know you — and who you know will give you a strong recommendation. The best choices are people in business or education. In business, consider asking your current supervisor (if appropriate), a former supervisor, or a current or former co-worker. In education, ask a favorite professor who ideally knows your work, your dedication, and your key skills and abilities.

It’s best to provide each person who agrees to write a recommendation with a copy of your current resume or CV and a summary of your key skills and accomplishments. You may also want to provide them with the reasons why you are interested in going back to school for your MBA, and perhaps a copy of your completed application form. Some may even ask for a rough draft of a letter of recommendation; whether you write such a draft is up to you.

Be sure to allow enough time for each person to write the letter. Most experts suggest at least one or two months before your deadline. Be sure to follow-up about a month before the deadline. And once each has written and sent the recommendation, be sure to follow-up with a thank you note for their efforts.

The GMAT: Placement Exam Scores

Most graduate business programs, and certainly all accredited programs, require at least one standardized test score from applicants: the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Most non-native English speakers (and foreign nationals) are required to demonstrate their proficiency in written and spoken English through the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

The GMAT is an aptitude test that measures intellectual ability in three areas: math, English, and logic. There are plenty of practice books, courses, Websites, and other resources. Take advantage of at least one of them. Practice is key to getting comfortable with taking the test and the formats and style of the test. has an excellent free GMAT Help Course.

The GMAT is available in conventional testing centers (pencil and paper tests) as well as in special computer centers (which provide results much faster).

Excellent Resources
To learn about graduate programs, go to

To learn more about the graduate admission process, including getting help with your personal essay and the GMAT, go to

To learn if the MBA is right for you — and to get even more MBA-related resources and Websites, read our companion article: The Master of Business Administration: Is the MBA Worth the Time, Effort, and Cost?

MBA Application Checklist

  • Research schools
  • Determine desired MBA programs
  • Request applications
  • Determine deadlines
  • Study for and take GMAT
  • Take TOEFL (if necessary)
  • Order transcripts from all previous colleges
  • Solicit letters of recommendation
  • Compose personal essays
  • Schedule interviews
  • Update resume or CV
  • Write dynamic letter to program coordinator
  • Mail completed applications (and fees)
  • Follow-up to make sure applications are complete

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Have you seen all our career and job resources for job-seekers considering an MBA, currently attending an MBA program, or who have an MBA? Go to: Job Resources for MBAs or MBA Degree Resources.

Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.

Sample Cover Letters for Graudate School Admittance

Dear Graduate Coordinator (get the name so you can make the letter more direct),

I am very interested in pursuing a masters degree at the University of UNIVERSITY NAME in Cardiac Rehabilitation (or the area you are interested in). From my review of graduate programs, and discussion with other professionals, it is very evident that the University of UNIVERSITY NAME Exercise Science Program has an excellent Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

I am completing a very comprehensive Undergraduate Program in Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico. As you can see by my resume, this program has prepared me well for the graduate education challenges I now wish to pursue. I hope that the skills and knowledge I obtain from this graduate degree will give me the opportunity to seek a challenging opportunity within a dynamic rehabilitation setting.

I have enclosed all materials required for acceptance into the masters program. Thank you very much for your consideration of my application.

Very truly yours,

Your Name

Sample Cover Letter for PT School (From Lynette Ewer, ES UG Student)

Lynette Ewer
Albuquerque, NM 87113
December 4, 2002

Kathy Dieruf
Admissions Chairperson
UNM School of Medicine
HSSB Room 204

Dear Ms. Dieruf,

I am very interested in the physical therapy program at the University of New Mexico. I volunteered over 220 hours at the Veterans Administration Hospital (2001- 2002), which gave me the opportunity to experience and enjoy several different aspects of the physical therapy field. I am currently completing my undergraduate degree in exercise science, which I feel will enhance my abilities as a therapist.

My volunteer background has included the following: wound care, rehabilitation exercise programs, and spinal cord injury and mobility impaired patients in the therapy pool. I also gained experience in patient rehabilitation in the areas of knee and hip replacement surgery.

My bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science has provided me with the knowledge of exercise testing, EKG interpretation, fitness assessment and prescription, anatomy, and kinesiology. I have also taken courses that involved special populations, such as people with disabilities and the elderly.

The UNM physical therapy program came highly recommended by graduate students and physical therapists that I have talked with, and that the curriculum is outstanding. Through my research on deciding which school to attend I found that the New Mexico School of Medicine is one of the top in the nation. I would be proud to be a student in the UNM physical therapy program.

Through my volunteer work at the VA Hospital I have developed a compassionate approach and commitment to assisting people with medical and physical disabilities I would enjoy becoming a physical therapy student and look forward to speaking with you in the near future. Thank you for your consideration.


Lynette Ewer

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