When you’ve had your interview at the business school of your dreams and are waiting to receive an offer of admission, you may want to go the extra mile to show the school just how seriously you want to enter their MBA program. This scenario is when a letter of intent will come in handy.
An MBA letter of intent is a short letter sent to the school you would most like to attend. It demonstrates your commitment to that specific program over all others and can persuade the admissions committee to accept you. This article will break down everything you need to know about how to write a memorable MBA letter of intent, including tips for success and mistakes to avoid.
What is an MBA Letter of Intent?
An MBA letter of intent is a short letter, typically one page in length, addressed to the head of the admissions committee at the business school you would most like to attend. The letter of intent expresses your desire to attend that specific school and affirms your desire to participate in the program, should you be accepted.
Letters of intent are not required, but it is a good idea to send one if you have a dream school you want to attend since it can improve your chances of being accepted. If you wish to send a letter of intent, it should be written and sent after you have been interviewed and visited the campus.
Purpose of the MBA Letter of Intent
The purpose of the letter of intent is to communicate to the admissions that you will attend the school if you are accepted. This letter shows how serious you are about this particular MBA program and your commitment to the school. Because of this, a letter of intent can help you stand out from the other applicants, which will help improve your chance of being accepted.
Since you are promising to enroll if you are admitted, it is unethical for you to send multiple letters of intent to receive multiple offers of admission. You cannot attend more than one MBA program, so promising to participate in numerous programs will result in you having to break all but one of the promises you made in your letters of intent.
Business school admissions aren’t made in individual silos — admissions committee members have connections to various other programs. If word gets out that you sent multiple letters of intent, it will reflect poorly on your character and may result in you being rejected instead of accepted.
If you know which school is your #1 choice after completing your interview and campus visit, you should send a letter of intent to express your desire to attend the school.
Many business schools are open to receiving letters of intent as it allows them to better calculate how many of the students who receive admissions offers will end up matriculating to the school. Having a higher yield rate allows schools to understand better how many new students they will have and plan accordingly and increase their competitiveness.
Although letters of intent can benefit admissions committees, not all schools are open to receiving these letters. If your top choice makes it clear they do not want to receive letters of intent, do not send one; it can negatively impact your chances of being accepted.
Step-by-Step Guide on Writing an MBA Letter of Intent
Like the MBA cover letter, the MBA letter of intent is a formal document that needs to be written in a professional manner that adheres to standard business practices in form and tone. You will want to include enough information about yourself to jog the committee’s memory and connect this letter to other components of your application. You will also need to include additional information about why this school is your top choice and how you came to this decision to add value to your application. You can follow along with this guide as you are composing your letter of intent.
Step 1: Format your letter.
Begin writing your letter by addressing the format requirements. This will include setting your page margins to one inch all around, changing the line spacing to suit the school’s requirements, selecting a standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri), and sizing the font 10 to 12. Format requirements will vary by school, so you must adhere to the provisions specified on the school’s website.
You should also set up your header at this time. This consists of your full first and last name and your contact information.
Step 2: Include the date you will send your letter and the recipient’s name.
Leave one line of blank space between your personal information and the dateline. The dateline should reflect the date you will send your letter and be written out in full (April 28, 20XX) instead of a short form (Apr. 28, 20XX nor 04/28/XX). Writing the date out in full will look more professional compared to using a short form.
Then, leave one line of blank space between the dateline and the recipient’s information. The recipient is the head of the admissions committee, and their full first and last name should be written on this line along with their title. Make sure you spell their name correctly!
Traditionally, prefixes like Mr., Ms., Mrs., and Dr. have been used to address recipients. However, you should no longer assume the preferred prefix, especially if it is someone you have not met personally and whose preferred prefix is unknown.
It can be harmful to your application to address the head of the admissions committee incorrectly. It’s best not to include a prefix and simply use the individual’s full name in the address line, unless you know with absolute certainty the prefix they prefer.
Step 3: Include a salutation.
Following the date and address lines, you will again leave one line of blank space before writing your salutation. The salutation is a formal greeting that signals the beginning of your letter; the salutations “dear” and “greetings” are likely the most common example you’ve come across. Whichever salutation you choose to use, capitalize the first letter and follow the salutation with the first and last name of the recipient. You will then include a comma or a colon following the recipient’s name and leave a line of blank space separating the salutation line from the opening paragraph of your letter.
Step 4: Reintroduce yourself and state the purpose of the letter.
The first paragraph of your letter is where you will reintroduce yourself. Beginning with stating your name and the specific program you applied to is an excellent way to jog your reader’s memory. It’s also a good idea to include the month when you had your interview and mention who conducted your interview. At the end of the paragraph, you will then state that this school is your top choice, which will lead to the explanation in the following section. This introductory paragraph will only be two or three sentences long, so don’t stress if it looks small on the page.
Step 5: Explain how you decided this is your top program and school.
The second paragraph will outline why this is the school you want to attend over all the other schools who interviewed you. This can include how this school’s MBA program will help you reach your professional goals, what draws you to the program and school, or a positive connection you’ve made with a faculty member, current student, or alumni.
The exact information you provide in this paragraph will depend on your motivation to attend this school and the most significant factors that have influenced your decision. As such, this section will be deeply personal, so your genuineness and personality must shine through.
The third paragraph is where you can provide the admissions committee with relevant updates on your life and career. Suppose you have taken on a new role in either your current organization or volunteer activity, or have recently completed a significant project at work. In that case, this final body paragraph is where you can provide this information. Any conferences you’ve attended or professional development courses you’ve taken, as well as any new certifications that are relevant to the admissions committee, can also be mentioned in this paragraph.
Step 6: Conclude your letter.
The last paragraph of your letter of intent will provide a summary of what you’ve outlined in the body of the letter. You’ll restate your intention to attend the school and what you’ll bring to the school, while also outlining how the school will set you on the path to achieving your goals outlined earlier in the letter. Like the opening paragraph, this will probably only be two or maybe three sentences long, so don’t worry that this part of the letter is short.
Step 7: Sign off.
After your conclusion, you’ll leave one line of space and then write your complimentary close. This is a formal and polite way to end professional correspondence, and likely something you already do when sending business letters and emails. The most common complimentary closes are “thank you,” “sincerely,” and “yours truly,” and these are all suitable options to use in your letter of intent. Complimentary closes such as “warm regards” and “best wishes” are increasingly common in professional spaces, but are less formal than those already listed. Hence, you should opt to use “thank you,” “yours truly,” or “sincerely.”
Next, you’ll leave a line of space before putting in your first and last name as they appeared on your application documents. To add an extra professional touch to your letter, you may wish to insert your signature above your typed name digitally. You can do this through electronic programs or by writing your signature on a blank sheet of paper, taking a picture of it, and uploading it into your document.
Following your full name on a separate line, you should include your application number. This will make it easier for the committee to add it to your file, especially if submitted through email or traditional mail.
Top Tips for Writing an MBA Letter of Intent
Successful letters of intent have some critical things in common, which are outlined in the following list. Incorporating these characteristics of stellar letters of intent will improve your letter immensely and improve your chances of receiving an offer of admission to the school of your dreams:
1. Demonstrate your research of the school and its MBA program.
You won’t have much space to do this, but you should relate a few distinctive traits of the program to how you came to your decision.
2. Check the requirements set out by the school regarding letters of intent.
This way, you know exactly what you have to do from the beginning and you can format your letter according to the specified requirements.
3. Provide relevant information
in your letter that doesn’t just restate what you’ve already said in your resume, essay, letters of recommendation, other application documents, and interview. Though there should be enough about yourself, so the admissions committee remembers you, your letter should go one step further than simply restating old information. Make it worth their time by providing them with some new insight into your aspirations and how this MBA program will help get you there.
4. Showcase your personality and motivation through the language you use in your letter of intent.
You want to communicate your genuine interest, so it’s essential to keep your passion for your preferred school in mind when discussing what influenced your decision to apply there. However, this should also be balanced with professionalism and formality, as a letter that is too informal and friendly may not appeal to the admissions committee.
5. Proofread your letter before you send it.
A letter of intent is a powerful and persuasive document, but you don’t want a letter with typos in it to deter the admissions committee from admitting you.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Although there is a lot you have control over to make your letter of intent impress the admissions committee, there are some common errors that could compromise the persuasiveness of your letter. The good news is that these standard errors are easy to avoid, especially if you know of the pitfalls to watch out for. Here are some common mistakes to avoid while writing your MBA letter of intent:
1. Sending multiple letters of intent.
As outlined earlier, this is an unethical practice and should be avoided as it could cost you considerably. Please do not do it.
2. Overloading your letter with things the admissions committee already knows about you.
You have limited space to communicate your intention to attend the school if accepted, so don’t use too much of that space restating why you belong in the program. The focus of your letter should be why you have decided to commit to the school.
3. Not following the school’s instructions regarding letters of intent.
This includes not following length, format, and submission requirements and sending a letter of intent when the school has clearly stated they do not want to receive letters of intent. These easily avoidable mistakes will jeopardize your application.
4. Addressing it to the wrong person or addressing the right person incorrectly.
Making a mistake in this part of your letter is also off-putting to the admissions committee and will not demonstrate that you’ve heavily researched the school and its MBA program.
5. Sending a letter of intent with grammatical, punctual, or syntactical errors.
Every correspondence you have with the admissions committee will leave an impression. You don’t want to come so close to receiving an offer only to send a letter of intent containing errors that remove your application from the top of the pile.
MBA Letter of Intent Example
Here is an example of a letter of intent written by our team at Inspira. You can follow along with this sample of the body of a letter of intent while you write your own letter. As you will see, the sample is divided into sections, which will make it effortless for you to identify the various areas of this type of letter.
You’ll notice in this example that we opted to use “dear” as our salutation at the start of the article and a classic “thank you” as the complimentary close ahead of the signature. The opening paragraph clearly outlines the applicant’s intention to attend the school if accepted before transitioning into the rationale behind this decision.
In this example, relevant updates were tied into the reason for wanting to attend this school. Setting up the information in this way allows for a story, which provides a more engaging reading experience for the admissions committee. It also ties into the school’s focus and what is emphasized in their mission and values.
There are also some spots where you would fill in the information pertaining to your specific situation. You’ll fill in the recipient name, the name of the school and specific program, the names of anyone from the school to whom you’ve spoken, and your name at the end. You may also wish to add your applicant I.D. following your signature to make it easier for the admissions committee to track down your application.
1. When should I send a letter of intent?
Letters of intent are most commonly sent after your interview with your top choice of business school and when you have completed most of your other business school interviews. By waiting until after your interviews, you will be more sure that your top choice is still your favorite school. It is a good idea to visit all the schools where you were invited to an interview before sending a letter of intent. You want to make sure you like the school’s atmosphere before committing to it.
It is also acceptable to send a letter of intent after being placed on the waitlist for your top school. This may increase the likelihood of the school sending you an offer of admission if other admitted students choose not to accept their offers.
It’s important to note that business schools are significantly more open to receiving letters of intent closer to the end of the admissions cycle. A letter of intent sent at the end of the interview season demonstrates your genuine interest in that school and that you have taken time to research schools in order to make an informed decision regarding your academic and professional future.
With this in mind, it’s essential not to send your letter too soon after your interview or being waitlisted. Sending it too soon after either scenario may come across as desperate instead of serious, which will not make the admissions committee more likely to accept you.
2. If I already have a top choice of school, can I send a letter of intent before I’ve had my interview?
This is not a good idea for two reasons. First, your interview will allow you to gauge whether you can genuinely see yourself being a part of the MBA program at a particular business school. A business school can seem great when you’re reading its website or social media feeds, but you won’t necessarily know if it’s a good fit for you personally until you go to the campus, take a tour, and speak to people already there.
This includes the admissions committee member conducting your interview. If you send a letter of intent before realizing you’ve actually visited the school and are accepted, there’s a risk you will be stuck having to break your promise to attend or end up going to a school that isn’t the right fit for you.
If you send your letter of intent prior to your interview, there’s also a risk of your letter not being received well. As outlined above, a letter sent too early can come across as desperate, as opposed to the genuine interest you’re expressing, which won’t make the admissions committee more inclined to admit you. The admissions committee may also feel it is presumptive to send a letter of intent before they’ve even invited you to an interview, so overall it’s best to wait until after your interview and campus visit to send a letter of intent.
3. How should I send my letter of intent — by email or through the postal service?
Each school will have a preferred method of receiving letters of intent, so you should check the school’s website for specific instructions. Some schools will have a section in the application portal where you can upload a letter of intent, while others may prefer to receive a physical copy through the mail. Emailed letters of intent are also becoming more common, so with all these different possibilities, it’s best to check the school for their letter of intent requirements.
4. Should I send a letter of intent if I am waitlisted?
Yes, you should absolutely send a letter of intent if you are placed on the waitlist. Demonstrating your desire to attend that school despite being waitlisted will show the admissions committee that you are committed to their MBA program and may make them more inclined to admit you if spots open up.
However, you shouldn’t send a letter of intent immediately after finding out you’ve been waitlisted. As mentioned earlier, it will come across as desperate, and that’s not the way you want to be perceived.
5. To whom should my letter be addressed — the entire admissions committee, one committee member, or the school itself?
You should address your letter of intent to the head of the admissions committee. If you formed a meaningful connection with one of your interviewers, it is also acceptable to include them in your letter of intent.
6. What is an appropriate amount of detail to provide in the letter of intent? Should I restate everything that makes me a good fit for the program, or only highlight a few things?
Your letter of intent should include why you’re committing to the school and what led you to make this decision. It should also provide any relevant updates for the admissions committee since your interview. The admissions committee has already gained significant insight into your academic and professional accomplishments and potential throughout the application process, so it’s unnecessary to restate everything that makes you the right fit for the program. Any aspects you choose to highlight should be done in conjunction with the rationale for your intention to attend the school.
The MBA letter of intent has the power to tilt the scales in your favor and convince an admissions committee to offer you a place at their school, which makes it critical that your letter is well-written. Your letter should provide meaningful insight into why you decided to commit to this school and not simply restate information already offered throughout the application cycle. It also needs to be clear that this is a letter of intent, so in the first paragraph, you will need to mention that you intend to go to this school should you be offered admission.
Finally, you must proofread or have an expert review your letter before sending it to ensure it’s error-free.
About Inspira Futures
At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.