I am applying to an executive MBA program. Of course, letters of recommendation are needed. My supervisor has, on multiple occasions attempted to discourage me from applying to any graduate program. He has said than an MBA is a "waste of time". He has said that a PhD would "not help" me. The only programs he has expressed any favor with are those that are 1) on our campus and 2) are simply training in skills that I already use in my current position. He has claimed that he could, personally, "certify" me regarding management skills. He's a professor at a university biological research department. I have been working for him since about 2002, with a brief gap where I moved away to care for a relative. It essentially looks like I will not get a letter of recommendation from him.

What can I do?

2 Answers 2


I am no expert on MBA admissions, but I believe they are looking for letters attest to qualities beyond the ability to do well in school, such as entrepreneurship, community service, leadership, and so forth. If your current boss--it sounds like that's what you mean by "supervisor"--is as weirdly hostile as you say, don't ask him for a letter. Look for other respected people in your network who can speak to the qualities MBA programs are looking for, such as administrators, elected officials, community leaders, or even clients.


"He has said that a PhD would "not help" me." Then why the hell does he have a PhD since it does not help?!! Seems to me that he wants to keep you working with him and discourages for his own benefit. That is selfish of him.

I had a similar experience when I applied from my co-supervisor. I can only suggest finding other professors willing to write you a good letter. I would be worried asking this person for a letter given what you have said about him discouraging you.

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