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Letters of Recommendation

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Two female students studying inside Perry Library.

Most graduate programs require at least two letters of recommendation. Your application will include transcripts, standardized test scores, and a personal statement/essay, in addition to glowing letters of recommendation. The letter of recommendation can give admission committees a picture of you that the other pieces of your application cannot.

A recommendation letter is a detailed discussion of the personal qualities, accomplishments, and experiences that make you unique and suited for the program to which you have applied. Typically, one or more of the people in your network and/or your mentors will write your recommendation. It is important to be consistent in communication with them about. The more familiar they are with your goals and needs the better the recommendation they can write.

Who Should You Ask?

Consider professional people who know you best: faculty members, administrators, advisors, internship supervisors, and employers. The person who writes your letter should:

  • know you for a significant amount of time (at least one year)
  • know the quality of your work
  • have a high opinion of you, both personally and professionally
  • describe your work and character in a positive light
  • know your educational and career goals
  • have the ability to write a well-written letter

How to Request a Letter

Ask if they feel that they know you well enough to write a letter of recommendation for you. Help by providing information:

  • A cover note that includes your contact information
  • Transcripts
  • Resume
  • Admissions essay/personal statement
  • Copies of graded papers/assignments from the course you took with them
  • A list of schools to which you are applying, and due dates for each application (earliest due listed first )
  • Copy of the application recommendation forms
  • An addressed and stamped envelope (if the letter needs to be mailed separately)