Get the Inside Scoop on the Sponsorship Letter and Letters of Recommendation

Why does Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives require two letters of recommendation and a sponsorship letter? In a recent Webinar, Directors of Admissions Diane Sharp (Philadelphia) and Barbara Craft (San Francisco) explained how the letters help the Admissions Team get to know each applicant.

“The application is very holistic and these letters provide different perspectives about the applicant to show us what he or she will bring to the program. We feel strongly that an application wouldn’t be complete without both of these types of letters,” said Diane.

What is the difference between a sponsorship letter and a letter of recommendation? “The sponsorship letter is from your employer — someone in HR or a manager— and provides several things:

  • Authorization for the employee to take the time off work required to participate in this program.
  • The amount of financial support, if any, that the employee will receive.
  • Buy-in: Support for the employee to participate in this program.

Self-employed students, like entrepreneurs, usually write their own sponsorship letter. Barbara explained that their letter needs to state that their organization will outlast the two years of this program and that they can handle running the company while doing this program.

A letter of sponsorship is required for all applicants to get a decision. “People will often ask if they can get an admissions decision first and then approach their employer about sponsorship. The answer is no because we need to make sure companies understand what they will get out of the program and that they have some skin in the game, whether it’s financial and/or providing time off for the employee to attend this program,” she said.

Diane added that financial support is not required. “Don’t be concerned if you’re not getting money from your company. We know that some companies have policies and some do not. The support in terms of time to do this program is what is most important.”

A letter of recommendation, on the other hand, is from someone who works closely with you and can speak to your skills, abilities, and management style as well as provide examples of your work. In other words, don’t ask your former college professors, friends or relatives.

“We want to know what other people value in you. Students in this program work closely together and build strong bonds. These letters of recommendation should reflect that you will bring something of value to this program and that other students would benefit from working with you,” said Barbara.

If you have questions throughout the application process, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.