Letters of Recommendations
For admission to Graduate School
By: Jocelyn VanNederynen
How important are letters of
They are required for almost every graduate school
application and are a very important part of the application
Grades and test scores factor most heavily; however, your
letters of recommendation could be the deciding factor in
the admission process.
Strong letters of recommendations can strengthen your
application and if there are deficiencies in your application,
they can help to out weight them.
How many letters of
Recommendation do I need?
Each institution you apply too will let you know
how many letters are required.
Generally most institutions will ask for 3 letters.
It is recommended that you send only the amount
of letters requested. Admission committees do not
have the time to read extra letters.
Whom should I ask for a
Someone who knows you Someone who has
well. academically evaluated you
Someone with title of in an upper-division class.
“Professor.” Letters from family friends,
Someone who is a professor political figures, and the like
at the school granting you a usually are discouraged and
may be detrimental to your
Someone who has earned the acceptance.
degree which you are
seeking in your graduate
Someone with an advanced
degree who has supervised
you in a job or internship
aligned with the graduate
program you are pursuing.
Best Letter Writers:
Those that know you well and can provide an
evaluation of your ability to perform and succeed at
the graduate level.
If you are planning to attend grad school, take every
opportunity to get to know your professors:
– Go to office hours.
– Ask questions in class.
– Seek advice about your career.
– Do independent research or study with a professor
whose recommendation you may want.
How do I approach potential letter
Make a list of professors Letters are strictly on a
or supervisors who will voluntary basis; a
be your advocates. faculty member may
Set up an appointment decline to write them.
to discuss your request The best approach is to
in person. ask potential letter
DO NOT make the writers if they are
request through email. willing to write you a
Be prepared to discuss
your interest and If the answer is no, ask
reasons for attending someone else.
When should I approach letter
Faculty is especially busy during the months of November
Be considerate of your letter writers’ time and workload,
and approach them at least 2 months in advance of your
A good time to approach is early fall of your senior year if
you plan to attend immediately.
Ask during the school year; sometimes professors are hard
to find in the summer.
If you plan to take time off ask for a letter of
recommendation before you leave. Be sure to place it in a
safe place. When ready to apply to graduate school, contact
professor again, and ask them to update your letters.
What information do my letter
writers need to write good letters?
You can help your letter writers
by giving each of them a
portfolio that includes: Forms:
– Info on how to get in touch – Applicant information
– What you would like typed in.
emphasized in each letter. – Recommender’s name,
– List of schools you are title, contact info
applying to and due dates.
– Any other info that is
relevant. address, ect.) typed in.
– Open and close your note
with thanks and
Your unofficial transcripts (note courses you took
A draft of your statement of purpose.
A copy of your best work in the course (with
instructor comments on it), lab evaluations,
projects, publications etc.
Stamped and addressed envelopes to send letters
and forms directly to the Career Center Letter
Service or schools of your choice.
Do graduate schools care if letters
are confidential or not?
Graduate schools in general prefer confidential
Admissions officially say that is displays more
confidence on the part of the applicant if letters
“Confidential”- meaning you , the applicant
cannot see the letter.
As of August 1, 2001, the Letter Service is
required to indicated on the letter if it is
confidential or non-confidential.
Why should I use the Letter
Service at the Career Center?
If you are applying to more than three
schools, or you think you want your letters
held for other opportunities in the future,
you should plan to use the Letter Service.
Your letter writers will write one letter and
fill out one form, rather than filling out a
different form for every school and
Career Center- Letters of Recommendation
for Graduate school.
http://career.berkeley.edu/Grad/Grad Letter.stm Pages
Recommendation Form [sample]
recommendation_form.htm Pages 1-3.