Often seen as the graduate-school version of the Cover Letter, a Letter of Intent offers a comprehensive picture of a student’s purposes when joining an academic program. The Admission Committee takes this as one of the most important criteria to decide whether they should invite a candidate for the interview afterwards. In this article, we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to nail this piece of writing.
An MBA Letter of Intent, or LOI, is a letter-format piece of writing that rationalizes a candidate’s decision to apply for an MBA program. The letter should make clear the candidate’s goals – what he intends to pursue in this program, motivations – what drives him to those goals, and plans – what he will do in order to achieve such goals.
Like the Cover Letter, a Letter of Intent acts as the school’s first personal impression of you. It introduces you to the AdComs and draws their attention to your application. The Letter of Intent is an important way to showcase how your experiences, future plans and goals match the values of the MBA program the school offers.
Letter of Intent VS Statement of Purpose
Statement of Purpose: is an essay that connects your past experiences and the program you are applying for. It often takes the form of a compelling story that provides a comprehensive picture of your personal development along with your desire to learn and contribute. You are free to get creative with your story in order to make your essay unique and outstanding. More insights into the Statement of Purpose can be found here.
Letter of Intent: is a letter that demonstrates a candidate’s clear intentions while pursuing the MBA program. It, on the other hand, focuses mainly on the academic and working aspects of a candidate rather than his personal story. Also, your writing should be formal and professional. Out-of-the-box style is not necessary and may even do harm to AdComs’ impression of you.
What do AdComs look for in a Letter of Intent
In a Letter of Intent, you should be able to show to the AdComs that:
- You are a serious candidate who is determined to pursue an MBA program.
This letter should show that your decision to apply for an MBA was not made up the night before, but based on your past experiences and career path, and rationally aligns with your future goals of development. It also displays whether you are passionate and motivated enough to complete the program till the end. Assertive tone of writing and specific examples are two deciding factors.
- This school is for you, and vice versa.
A Letter of Intent should clearly state how the MBA program at this school would assist you to achieve your set goals. Be as specific as possible with your reasons and plans, since the AdComs will closely judge this to see if you have done thorough research about their school and their MBA program.
At the same time, you should show that you are also a good fit for the school. Mention your scores, past experiences and learning points from them to demonstrate your competency to the school’s MBA program and determination to make the most of it.
- You are able to deliver a concise, to-the-point piece of writing.
A Letter of Intent is shorter than other essays. Thus, successfully describing your plans and goals within a limited word count would be a plus point in the eye of the AdComs. This requires a clear organization of ideas and several times of polishing after writing drafts.
2. How to write an MBA Letter of Intent?
What to think before writing?
In order to address all of the above points that the AdComs are curious about, you should take time to brainstorm ideas, and organize them in a clear structure beforehand. We recommend you spend 2-3 days doing some self-reflection. Ask yourself personal questions about experiences, plans and goals when joining an MBA program. Below is a list of questions you may find helpful to brainstorm ideas for your Letter of Intent:
- Questions about personal anecdotes/ experiences:
- What valuable experiences did you have during your undergraduate/ working years?
- How did those experiences inspire your interest to apply for an MBA program?
- Is there something more you desire to do/ achieve if you were provided the opportunity you need?
- Questions about future goals:
- What do you want to learn as a personal development?
- What are some problems in your field/ organization that you want to fix?
- How will an MBA program help you achieve the goals?
- Questions about the school:
- What do you find intriguing about the school and the experience it provides?
- What are resources offered by the school that you can develop yourself upon?
- What do you intend to do with those resources?
- Why do you think you should be admitted? What values do you have that the school is seeking?
Let your mind wander for some time. Allow yourself to think big, unlimited. Don’t just THINK how you will respond to these questions. WRITE all your answers down. Only in this way can you see clearly and organize what you really aspire to do in the MBA program at the school you are applying for.
Here is our recommended formal writing format for a Letter of Intent.
[Your name – Your Address – Your Phone Number]
[Date of writing]
[University and program name – University Address – University telephone number]
Dear Admission Committee,
[Introduction – 1 paragraph]
[Personal experiences – 2 paragraphs]
[Why this school – 1 paragraph]
[Conclusion – 1 paragraph]
[Thank the committee for their consideration]
NOTE: Total length should not exceed 1 page.
In the introduction paragraph, clearly state your interest in applying for the MBA program at this particular school. Briefly mention some aspects about the program that specifically inspire you, such as the school’s faculty member, alumni network, student body, academic experience. We recommend choosing 2 to 3 aspects to make your statement. DON’T explain them in detail. You don’t want your introduction to be too lengthy.
This is where you describe the past experiences that drove you to apply for an MBA program. Highlight your academic achievements and honors and other qualifications. After that, come to your working experiences. DON’T just make a list and over-generic statements. Be specific. Smartly choose what to highlight instead of mentioning everything you did. Elaborate what you have learned from these experiences. For example:
Bad: During undergraduate, I had an overall GPA of 3.8 and achieved a scholarship from my university. This was definitely one of the most important milestones in my whole career.
Better: I graduated with a BA degree in finance and an overall GPA of 3.8 at Villanova University. During the undergraduate years, I spent most of my time participating in various research opportunities and wrote 2 research papers about Global Finance, which were both complimented by 2 well-known professors at my school. Through these experiences, I have developed an inquisitiveness about the endless world of finance and eagerness to devote my time to exploring this fascinating field.
After explaining your past experiences, link them to your future plans. Avoid merely listing goals. AdComs want to see a thorough plan with clear action. Otherwise, your goals are just unrealistic dreams that hold no value. Remember that your goals need to be relevant to an MBA degree. Whether you want to save your country’s economy or be promoted to a higher position, it is worthless in this Letter of Intent if the MBA has nothing to do with it.
Why this school
Spend 1 paragraph to explain your interests in the school you are applying for. The goal of this paragraph is to answer the question why this program at the school is for you. Make sure you have done thorough research about the MBA program they offered. Selectively write about a number of aspects you find intriguing that may help you achieve your goals.
Whether you are excited about their Case teaching method, the make-a-difference attitude of their students’ body, or their network of 47,000 alumni across the globe, be specific on how you are going to use the school’s resources. You need to show that you are determined to make the most of them to yield the best results, and that the school will not regret admitting you.
Like the introduction paragraph, this one should also be short and concise. An ideal length should be 2-3 sentences. Summarize the values you just presented that you believe will set yourself apart from other candidates in the first sentence. Use the second one to restate your passion for the school’s MBA program. The last sentence should assert your goals if you are admitted to the school.
Maintain an assertive tone of voice
The Letter of Intent is about goals and action. A piece of writing with many negative sentences and passive voice will not be able to show your firmness and determination. Use active verbs, and simple sentences to convey your enthusiasm to readers.
Get to the point
You may find this tip when attempting to write a normal essay. Yet, we must emphasize that this is much more important for a letter. It is a much more formal piece of writing where there is no space for fancy wording and sentences. Simplicity and sufficiency are highly appreciated.
When writing a Letter of Intent, make sure that it complements your whole application package. Irrelevant examples or statements without specific evidence might turn the AdComs away from your application immediately.
Review after writing
Bear in mind that every word counts. You need to do thorough revision after finishing this letter to find whether there are unnecessary sentences, out-of-context points or grammatical mistakes. Don’t directly edit your writing, rewrite another draft instead. This will give you the chance to see the improvements you have made along the way. First draft is always the worst. In most cases, the more you review your letter, the better it will get.
Seek for help
Although it is a personal piece of writing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a reliable person who has enough experience and understanding of you to read your letter of intent. Ask for their feedback and see if it will improve your letter.