Letters of Recommendation

Students at Computer

Letters of Recommendation


Who to ask.

The more involved you are, the easier it will be to acquire strong letters of recommendation. A strong letter of recommendation is written by someone you have a professional and or academic relationship. See below for a non-exhaustive list of people you can consider when figuring out who you might ask for a letter of recommendation. It is essential to examine many factors when you consider who to ask. Ensure they know you well, think of your work ethic and academic ability favorably, and the experience in which you know them is relevant to your graduate or professional program or preparation for such.

  • Faculty with whom you have worked in the lab, an internship (e.g. LifeSTEP), been a preceptor for, or taken multiple courses, and you often engaged in office hours.
  • Internship site supervisors.
  • Supervisors at work where the field of work is relevant to the graduate program you are applying to.
  • Volunteer Coordinators.
  • Faculty Advisors for campus clubs and organizations.

How to ask.

It is perfectly acceptable to email your potential letter writer to ask if they are willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation. Be sure your emails are professionally written, concise, and provide enough information for the person to understand how you know each other. You must include the earliest due date and the approximate number of programs you intend on applying to so they have an adequate understanding of the ask.  Be prepared to have a follow-up in-person meeting with them and be able to provide additional documentation (resume, draft personal statement, etc.) upon request to help your reference write a complete letter.

When to ask.

It is recommended to give your letter writers 4-6 weeks advanced notice when asking for these letters. Writing a strong letter of recommendation takes time especially when applying to more than one program. Remember that if they are writing letters for you, they are most likely writing letters for other students on top of their regular workload. They are happy to do this but it can be a lot during peak season. The more time you give, and the more organized you are, the better your outcome!

Advice from the American Psychological Association

Letters of Recommendation: A challenge we all face

Finding fit: Letters of recommendation

The art of the letter