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Admissions questions? Choosing your referees

November 10, 2022
UBC MEL MHLP - Admission Questions: Application Reference Requirements

If you’re thinking about applying to the MEL or MHLP, you likely have some questions about the admissions process. In this series, we chat with some of our team members about the eligibility requirements and application process for the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) and Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) degrees.

We spoke with Eva Angelopoulos, former MHLP & MEL Program Coordinator, about the application reference requirements.

Tell us about your job.

In my position as Program Coordinator for the MEL and MHLP programs, I review each and every student application in depth, work with the admissions committee on decisions; oversee the onboarding process for successful applicants, and work with students throughout the year in an advising capacity. I also work closely with our Program Directors to help build and maintain strong academic programs. This includes everything from organizing industry or alumni speaker sessions and events and having really engaging programs. My role is very much focused on building a great program experience for our students.

What can you tell us about the reference requirements?

Applicants need to provide contact details for three referees.

We recommend that you provide one professional and one academic reference. Your third referee can be an additional professional or academic reference or can be someone who knows you from another area in your life, such as in a volunteer.

What makes a good referee?

It’s important to choose people who are aware of your accomplishments: people who know you very well and who can speak to your abilities and strengths.

As the MEL and MHLP degrees are leadership programs, it’s to your advantage if you can secure a reference from someone who can speak to your professional contributions, your work ethic or provide examples of where you went above and beyond what was required.

For your professional referee, this could include a recent employer, manager or mentor. For the academic referee, this could be a professor or even a tutorial assistant who knows your academic strengths. The admissions committee is interested in your academic reference because the MEL and MHLP programs are intensive academic degrees. For students who have been out of school for a long time, the committee will, of course, take into consideration that it might be difficult to get an academic reference. If this applies to you, we would understand if you provided a second professional reference instead.

When are referees contacted in the admissions process?

You complete your application in our online portal. You don’t have to complete it all at once: whatever you save is saved, and the committee does not review your application until you have pressed submit.

As part of your application, you are asked to provide institutional email addresses for your three referees.

These referees are automatically contacted once you pay your application fee and are instructed on how to submit their references electronically or by mail.

Given that preparing a reference can take a long time, we encourage you to consider starting your application in our online portal well ahead of the deadline. You can even list your referees and their contact information and pay your application fee before you complete the other elements of your application. This means that your referees will be contacted well in advance and have extra time to complete their references on your behalf. In the meantime, you can continue working on your application!

This approach gives your referees more time to submit their references than if you wait until closer to the application deadline to pay your fee and submit a complete application.

Keep in mind that we will not begin to review your application until we have received your three references. That’s why giving your referees lots of lead time is so important.

What do referees need to provide?

Referees will receive clear instructions when they are contacted by email. They can either upload a reference letter or complete an online reference form that asks them to answer specific questions about the applicant. They can also submit their letter or form by mail, in which case they need to sign the documents, seal them in an envelope and mail them to us.

Any other advice for those who are applying?

Start early! We ask you for a range of documentation and it can take a while to assemble it all. Writing a strong letter of intent and preparing an up-to-date resumé also take time.

The effort you put in really shows. Go into detail in your letter of intent to tell us about yourself, your experiences and why this program is a good fit for you. Help us learn more about who you are!

Finally, details count! Carefully proofread your entire application before you submit it. It makes a difference.

What’s the best part of your job?

My first day on the job this past March was also the first day of our COVID-19 lockdown in BC. I have been online with the MEL and MHLP team since day one, which has been an interesting learning curve. That being said, I feel very lucky to be part of this team (they are great!) and to contribute to the development of these dynamic and transformative degree programs.