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Ask Faculty for Letters of Recommendation

Purpose: Scholars will learn about the best strategies to request recommendation letters from faculty members.

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The Art of Requesting a Letter 

Tips for Requesting a Letter of Recommendation


Request recommendation letters in person (if possible).
This is the preferred method, but if you cannot, instead of craft a professional email in which you humbly request a recommendation letter. Either way, make sure to clearly state:

That you are applying to graduate programs in your field.

That you want to know if they can write a strong recommendation letter.

That you understand they are very busy and thus appreciate any effort to fulfill your request.

Let them know the earliest submission deadline.

Provide the above-mentioned portfolio.

Make sure you give potential recommenders ample time to write and submit letters. Thus, request letters at least three weeks before the submission deadline.


Keep track of upcoming deadlines and submissions.
Many online application systems let you know when letters are submitted. Send recommenders gentle reminders if you see that deadlines are fast approaching and nothing has been submitted yet.


Thank your recommenders once everything is submitted.
Let them know that you appreciate them either in person or through a thoughtful email. Giving chocolates is always a nice touch.


Keep your recommenders updated.
They will want to hear of your acceptance offers. Also, don’t forget them once you are in graduate school. Mentors can be very helpful throughout your entire career. Many of them will become your colleagues in the field.

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Video Content

Organizing Your Ask for Potential Recommenders

Here, George Walters-Marrah, a current McNair Scholars, covers how to compile a portfolio of information when requesting strong recommendation letters.

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Suggested Assignment

Suggested Assignment

Assignment #32

Activity Two: Draft a Written Request for a Recommendation Letter

Purpose: Scholars will craft a written request for recommendation letters. For assistance schedule a visit with AAP Peer Advisors.
Time: 1 hour
Instructions: 5b_activity_two
Note: that instructions for this assignment are also available in audio format. It can be found here.

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Note: For a refresher on the importance of faculty mentorships consult Network with Possible Recommenders topic in the Exploring lesson.

Letters of Recommendation

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