Requesting a Recommendation

The Three Most Important Things to Know Prior to Requesting a Recommendation!

  1. DO NOT assume a potential recommender will and can write you a letter.  Ask your potential recommender if they will and can write a letter BEFORE you notify a potential employer or institute of higher education that the individual will provide a recommendation.  Either make the request in person or craft a professional email to make the request.  Include a brief description of the type of position or program to which you are applying and the due date (specifically, the earliest due date, if you need recommendations sent to multiple institutions) of the recommendation.
  2. Give your recommender A MONTH OR MORE to provide a recommendation.  In other words, the time between the date of your request and the due date of the recommendation (or the earliest due date) should be at least a month.  The more time, the better!  The absolute minimum amount of time between your request and the due date of the recommendation (or the earliest due date) is two weeks.
  3. It is suggested that you DO waive your right to access your recommendation.  Typically, applications to graduate programs ask you whether or not you want to waive your right to view your recommendation.  If you do not waive your right, the recommendation becomes part of your student record wherever you are applying.  You can review your student record, but ONLY If you are admitted to AND you enroll in the program.  If you do not waive your right, your recommender will be notified of this before they submit your recommendation, and they may take this into consideration while preparing it.  Generally, you should trust the individuals you ask to recommend you to provide the best recommendation possible for you.  If you have any concerns about the recommendation an individual may provide, consider either having a conversation with that individual about your recommendation or asking a different individual to provide you with a recommendation.

After a recommender agrees to provide you with a recommendation, each recommender may request different pieces of information to help them write a letter for you, so fulfill the requests of each specific recommender in the most organized fashion possible.

The list below indicates items that letter writers are likely to request, so that you have an idea of the pieces of information you may need to provide, but recommenders may not want all the information on this list and/or may request information not on this list.

Information Likely to Be Requested by Recommenders

  • Information about courses you took (or experiences you had) with the recommender:
    • A list of the courses you took with them
    • When you took each course (that is, semester and year)
    • The grade you earned in each course
  • A list of the organizations to which you want to apply, including for each organization:
    • The program/degree or position to which you are applying
    • The due date of the recommendation
    • Brief instructions on how the recommendation should be fulfilled, for example, the recommender will receive an email from the university that will provide instructions for submitting the recommendation.
  • A copy of your resume or curriculum vitae (CV); a CV is an academic version of a resume.
  • A copy of your personal statement; a personal statement is a required part of the application for many graduate programs.