Executive MPA application guide: Letters of reference

Illustration of two letters of reference on a sandy yellow background, next to an illustration of a building with neoclassical architecture.

Who should write your reference letter for admission to the Executive MPA? Here’s our take.

Reference letters help give us a fuller picture of you and your fit for the Executive MPA. Our tip for choosing a good referee? If you can, pick someone who knows you professionally, but also has seen a personal side of you. In our experience, such letters typically have more of an impact on the readers.

What is required?

You must submit two letters of reference for admission to the Executive MPA programme:

  • One from your current or most recent employer: If you don’t want to disclose the fact that you’re applying for a master’s to your current employer yet, we also accept performance evaluations.
  • One from a past employer or academic referee (e.g. a professor or lecturer who taught you at university): We understand that academic letters may be challenging for some applicants to provide. If you are self-employed, a letter from your business partner or someone you have collaborated with on a project will do just fine!

Should I choose a professional or academic referee for the second letter?

Professional letters should be on official letterhead and signed. You can upload them directly in the “Documents” section of the application portal.

While two professional reference letters are the norm, you can also submit an academic letter for your second one. If you choose to do so, your referee must send the academic letter from an official university email address (not Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) to empa-admissions[at]hertie-school[dot]org. If no official email address is available, please submit a letter signed and stamped in ink by your university. If it has been several years since you completed your degree and your referee is no longer associated with your university, a current professor may send the email on your referee’s behalf.

Follow up with your referees

Since we don’t contact your employers or academic referees directly, it is your responsibility to reach out to them and ensure that your letters are delivered to us. While your letters may arrive after you submit your application in the online portal, we only start the evaluation process once we have all of your admission documents on file. So the sooner we receive your letters along with the rest of your application, the sooner you’ll get an admissions decision!