A Recommendation is...

a detailed written statement (usually from a faculty member, supervisor or employer) of your personal qualities, qualifications, accomplishments and experiences that make you well qualified for admission into a graduate program.

Choosing References

Best choices for references include those who have mentored you in volunteer, internship, or paid work related to your graduate field, who know your career goals and who can attest to your ability to succeed in graduate level work.

Approaching Potential References

Decide who you want to ask and then schedule an appointment with your potential references to discuss your request in person or over the phone.

  • Ask your potential references if they can write a strong letter of recommendation. Pay attention to their demeanor. If you sense reluctance, ask someone else.
  • Be prepared to articulate how you think they know you best and how you think they can address your skills and qualifications.
  • Give your references at least one month to prepare your letter or recommendation form. You may offer friendly, gentle reminders as the deadline approaches.

Information to Provide

  • Unofficial transcript (note classes you took under their instruction if asking a professor) 
  • Academic resume/curriculum vitae
  • Due dates for recommendations
  • Recommendation forms or links to the forms
  • Stamped, addressed envelopes to send forms and letters directly to the schools if not submitted on-line

Confidentiality: The Waiver Statement

Recommendation forms (either by electronic submission or by regular mail) require you to decide whether to waive or retain your right to see the recommendation. As you decide whether to retain your right, keep in mind confidential letters tend to carry more weight with admissions committees. A confidential letter or form means you, the applicant, have waived your right to see the recommendation.

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