Letters of REcommendation

Who should you ask?

Typically, three letters are required for graduate admissions. Here's who you might consider as your letter writers:

  • Ask people who know you well such as faculty members

  • “Non-academic” recommendations can be appropriate as well—perhaps from college staff members, a supervisor in a relevant job, or instructor a longer duration field practicum

  • Ask the graduate program whether letters written by non-academic professionals are acceptable—in some fields, they are not desirable

  • Try to find someone who has the degree you are seeking and/or from the institution to which you are applying

When Should You Ask?

Ask well in advance, at least a month, and speak with the individuals before sending any forms to them. You can conduct your initial outreach to the individuals via phone or email to establish a connection and their commitment.

Make it easy for the letter writer!

Once connected, if possible, schedule a meeting to discuss your request in person.

Plan to be able to follow-up by supplying each individual with your transcript, resume and personal statement. Supply them with material to ensure a more descriptive recommendation:

  • Give them an outline that includes your GPA, the names of courses you have taken with them, activities with which you have been involved both on and off campus, and any significant awards, publications, or distinctions you have received

  • If there is a form, fill out as much of the form as possible for the recommendation writers, and don't forget to include an envelope with the proper postage

  • Make sure to show your appreciation to your reference by sending a hand-written thank you note and by letting them know which graduate program you decide to attend