You are required to submit three letters of recommendation from individuals who know you and are familiar with your work. We only accept three recommendations. Additional letters will not be accepted.

If you are an undergraduate or have less than two years of work experience, we encourage you to submit two letters of recommendation from university faculty members and the third from your immediate supervisor from a professional work environment or internship.

If you have more than two years of work experience, two of your three letters of recommendation should be from current or previous work colleagues, including a supervisor. We also encourage you to submit an academic reference as well.

We understand you may not be able to submit recommendations from college professors if you are applying to the Mid-Career MPA Program. In this case, you should have a colleague or supervisor write your letters of recommendation who can evaluate your ability to succeed in a rigorous academic environment.

Your recommendations must be submitted online and written in English. The names and email addresses of your recommenders must be included in your online application. They will each receive an email with instructions on how to submit their letter of recommendation. After you have added your recommenders’ details to your online application, click on “Recommendations” to check the status of your letters of recommendation.

We will accept letters of recommendations in languages other than English, but they must be translated into English. The original and translated letters must both be submitted. You, the applicant, cannot complete the translation.  

If you are reapplying to HKS and have applied within the past three years, you may choose to reuse your letters of recommendations from your previous application; your recommender does not need to submit a new letter.  You will only need to submit requests to recommenders who will be providing new letters.

Your recommenders must upload their letters online. They will also be asked to fill out a form that rates you in the following areas: 

  • Intellectual ability
  • Analytic frame of mind
  • Problem-solving orientation
  • Quality of oral expression in English
  • Quality of written expression in English
  • Motivation and energy
  • Leadership
  • Organizational ability
  • Emotional maturity
  • Ability to meet a deadline
  • Ability to work with others
  • Commitment to public service
Application Advice

Read our advice on how to plan for your letters of recommendation.