Career Development

Letters of Recommendation

The letter of recommendation is a crucial component to the graduate admissions process. Start building relationships with your professors, advisors, and supervisors early. You want to ask for recommendations from people that are familiar with your work, so they can write strong letters.

General Overview

  • Ask prospective recommenders to write letters for your application at least 1-2 months before the deadline whenever possible
  • Use a gentle reminder 1-2 weeks before the deadline if a recommender has not submitted
  • Letter writers do not remember everything about you
  • Remind them of your relationship- “I took your PSY 300 class in X semester of Y year, my research project was….
  • Provide them with an updated résumé and a draft of your personal statement
  • Ask at least one additional recommender in case one of your letter writers is unable to meet your deadline
  • The best letter writers are people who know you well and can provide an evaluation of your ability to perform and succeed
  • Networking is important! Take every opportunity during undergrad to get to know and talk with your professors.
    • go to office hours
    • actively participate in class
    • seek advice about your career
    • do academic research or independent study with a professor whose recommendation you may want

Specifics Regarding Requests for Recommendation Letters

Your goal is to make the process of completing a recommendation letter easy and straightforward for your recommenders.

  • Clearly communicate what the graduate program requires in a letter of recommendation to each letter writer.
  • Once the recommender agrees to write a letter, communicate the date you would like the letter completed. Consider providing a date before the actual deadline.
  • Depending on the graduate school, they may require submissions online or mailed, if so be ready. Provide recommenders the forms, pre-addressed envelopes, stamps, etc. whenever necessary.
  • Some schools want confidential letters sent directly from the recommender to the school. Let your recommenders know if they should give you the letters—or inform them about the submission process.
  • When a letter is complete, write a warm and sincere thank you letter to your recommender