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Free Printable Letter Of Recommendation For Graduate School Template [PDF]

    As we ascend the stairway of academic pursuits, glowing references often serve as the guiding lights that illuminate the path to our next destination. Crafting a compelling Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School is not merely about singing praises; it encompasses a thoughtful evaluation, underlining the candidate’s strengths, while also subtly hinting at areas of growth.

    This article will provide you with a comprehensive approach to create a persuasive recommendation letter that effectively highlights the candidate’s suitability for their desired graduate program.

    What is a graduate school recommendation letter?

    Letter Of Recommendation For Graduate School
    Letter Of Recommendation For Graduate School

    A graduate school recommendation letter is a document written by someone who knows a student well, typically a professor, teacher, or professional mentor, advocating for the student’s admission to a graduate school program. It provides insight into the candidate’s academic achievements, character traits, professional competencies, and potential to contribute positively to the advanced program.

    Beyond just validating the information provided in a student’s application, a compelling recommendation letter offers a holistic portrayal of the candidate, thereby significantly influencing the admissions committee’s decision-making process.

    Letter Of Recommendation For Graduate School Templates

    Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School templates are preformatted documents tailored for endorsing prospective graduate students. These templates provide a systematic approach to highlighting a student’s suitability, potential, and readiness for advanced academic endeavors.

    Available in diverse formats, such as Word documents or PDFs, these templates feature sections for the recommender’s information, relationship with the student, academic achievements, research experiences, and the student’s personal and professional traits. Graduate schools rely on these letters to gain deeper insights into applicants beyond their academic records.

    These templates spotlight areas like intellectual prowess, research aptitude, perseverance, and teamwork. They prompt recommenders to delve into specific instances where the student demonstrated these attributes, painting a comprehensive picture of the candidate’s potential.

    Who should write your letters of recommendation for graduate school?

    When it comes to deciding who should write your letters of recommendation for graduate school, it’s essential to be thoughtful and strategic. Ideally, your recommenders should be individuals who can provide a detailed, positive, and well-rounded picture of your academic capabilities, character, and professional potential. Here is a detailed guide to assist you in this process:

    1. Professors and Academic Advisors:

    These individuals can give an in-depth perspective on your academic prowess, dedication, intellectual curiosity, and how you’ve grown over the course of your academic journey. If you’re applying for a program related to a specific field, it’s highly beneficial to get a letter from a professor in that area who can attest to your capability and interest in the subject.

    2. Research Mentors:

    If you’ve participated in research, your mentor can write about your ability to design experiments, analyze data, solve complex problems, and contribute to the scientific community. They can discuss your potential for advanced study and research, which is often important for graduate school, especially for research-based programs like Ph.D. tracks.

    3. Internship Supervisors or Employers:

    If you’ve worked or interned in a field relevant to your graduate studies, a letter from your supervisor or employer can be valuable. They can address your professional skills, work ethic, teamwork, leadership abilities, and how you apply your academic knowledge in a real-world setting.

    4. Volunteer or Community Service Leaders:

    A reference from a community service leader or a volunteer coordinator can shed light on your character, commitment, leadership, and other soft skills. This can be especially helpful if your graduate program values community engagement or if your career goal ties to public service or social work.

    5. Coaches, Club Advisors, or Organization Leaders:

    If you’ve held leadership roles or made significant contributions in extracurricular activities, coaches or organization leaders can provide a unique perspective on your leadership, teamwork, dedication, and ability to balance academics with other commitments.

    To ensure effective letters, communicate openly with your potential recommenders. Discuss your future plans, share your statement of purpose, and highlight particular strengths you’d like them to emphasize. Remember, it’s critical to request these letters well in advance of your application deadline to give your recommenders ample time to craft a thoughtful recommendation.

    Lastly, always ask the question, “Do you feel you know me well enough to write a strong recommendation letter for my graduate school application?” This allows potential recommenders to gracefully decline if they don’t think they can provide a strong endorsement, ensuring you get the most robust letters of support.

    Importance of a Strong Letter Of Recommendation For Graduate School

    The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) plays a pivotal role in a graduate school application. Not only does it validate the claims made in your application, but it also provides the admission committee a deeper insight into your academic, professional, and personal attributes. Here is a detailed guide on why a strong LOR is essential:

    1. Validates Your Academic Performance:

    A recommendation letter from a professor or academic advisor can underline your academic strengths, illuminating your dedication, work ethic, and intellectual capabilities in your chosen field of study. It can substantiate the claims made in your application regarding your grades, class rank, projects, research, etc., thereby reinforcing your academic credibility.

    2. Highlights Your Research and Professional Skills:

    If you have been involved in research or internships, a strong LOR from your supervisor or research mentor can highlight your potential to thrive in a research-intensive graduate program. They can provide specifics about your ability to design and conduct research, solve problems, interpret data, and make original contributions to the field.

    3. Reveals Your Character and Interpersonal Skills:

    Beyond your academic and professional credentials, a recommendation letter offers insight into your character, resilience, ethics, and interpersonal skills. It can highlight qualities like leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and adaptability, which are highly valued in both academic and professional settings.

    4. Provides an External Perspective:

    An endorsement from a professor, employer, or mentor adds an external perspective to your application. The admission committee is interested in understanding how others perceive you and your work. A compelling LOR can persuade them of your potential to excel in the graduate program and make meaningful contributions to the campus and wider professional community.

    5. Differentiates You from Other Candidates:

    In a pool of applicants with similar qualifications, a strong LOR can distinguish you. It can offer unique anecdotes, examples, or insights that make you stand out, highlighting your specific strengths, unique experiences, and personal qualities that make you an ideal fit for the program.

    What to Include in a Letter of Recommendation for Grad School

    Writing a Letter of Recommendation for a student applying to graduate school is a significant responsibility. It’s crucial to highlight the right aspects to effectively portray the candidate’s suitability for the program. Here’s what you should include in a recommendation letter:


    Start by introducing yourself and your relationship to the candidate. State your position, how long you’ve known the candidate, and in what capacity. This establishes your credibility and frames the context for your assessment.

    Academic Abilities

    Detail the candidate’s academic strengths. Discuss their performance in your class or academic program, their knowledge in the subject area, their intellectual curiosity, and their ability to understand complex concepts. If applicable, mention their research skills, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and perseverance.

    Professional Skills

    If you’ve interacted with the candidate in a professional setting, speak about their professional competencies. This might include their ability to work in a team, leadership skills, communication skills, punctuality, dependability, and how they handle criticism and challenges.

    Personal Qualities

    Highlight the candidate’s personal characteristics that make them a good fit for the program. This might include attributes like resilience, motivation, integrity, adaptability, and interpersonal skills. Also, mention their ability to contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment, if applicable.

    Specific Examples

    Use specific examples to illustrate your points. For instance, rather than simply saying the candidate is a good leader, provide an example of a time when they demonstrated exceptional leadership. This makes your letter more credible and engaging.

    Comparison to Peers

    If possible, compare the candidate to their peers. This provides the admissions committee with a benchmark and underscores the candidate’s standing among their contemporaries.

    Suitability for the Program

    Explain why you believe the candidate would be a good fit for the specific graduate program to which they are applying. Discuss how their skills, experiences, and career goals align with the program’s offerings and objectives.


    Reiterate your endorsement for the candidate’s application to the graduate program. Offer to provide further information if needed and provide your contact information.

    Reference Letters vs. Recommendation Letters

    While both recommendation letters and reference letters are used to verify a candidate’s skills, experiences, and capabilities, they serve different purposes and are structured differently. Let’s dive into the key differences between the two:

    1. Purpose and Usage:

    A Recommendation Letter is typically used for academic or job applications. It aims to advocate for the candidate’s suitability for a specific role or program. It’s generally requested by the candidate and directly sent to the university or employer by the recommender.

    A Reference Letter can be used in a variety of scenarios such as court appearances, housing applications, or when a verification of character or skills is needed. It’s often less specific than a recommendation letter and can be given to the candidate to use as needed.

    2. Content and Detail:

    A Recommendation Letter is typically more detailed and specific. It often contains a comprehensive evaluation of the candidate, highlighting their skills, experiences, and achievements in relation to a specific position or academic program. It includes specifics like the candidate’s role in a project, their relationship with the recommender, or their ranking among peers.

    A Reference Letter, on the other hand, tends to be more general. It verifies the candidate’s character or skills but usually does not go into as much detail about specific roles or achievements. It’s meant to vouch for the person’s abilities or character in a broad sense.

    3. Writer:

    Recommendation Letters are usually written by people who know the candidate well in a professional or academic context, like teachers, professors, mentors, or supervisors. They have worked closely with the candidate and can provide a detailed assessment of their abilities and potential.

    Reference Letters can be written by anyone who knows the candidate well, like coworkers, friends, neighbors, or family members, in addition to professional or academic contacts. They can speak to the candidate’s character, work ethic, and general abilities.

    How to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school

    Writing a Letter of Recommendation for a graduate school applicant involves careful thought and detailed narrative about the candidate’s qualifications. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

    Step 1: Understand the Purpose and Requirements

    Ensure you understand the purpose of the recommendation letter and the requirements of the specific graduate program to which the student is applying. This includes the submission deadline, any specific points to address, and the submission method (usually via an online application portal or email).

    Step 2: Gather Information

    Ask the student for their resume, academic transcripts, statement of purpose, and details about the program they’re applying to. Request specific examples or experiences they’d like you to include in the letter. The more information you have, the better you can tailor your letter to the student’s strengths and the program’s requirements.

    Step 3: Start with a Formal Salutation

    Address the admissions committee formally, such as “Dear Admissions Committee.” If you know the specific person to whom the letter should be addressed, use their name.

    Step 4: Introduce Yourself and Your Relationship with the Candidate

    In the opening paragraph, identify who you are, your role or title, and describe your relationship with the candidate. Indicate how long you’ve known them and in what context.

    Step 5: Provide an Overall Evaluation

    Give a general assessment of the student, their performance, and potential. You might compare them to other students you’ve taught or supervised to highlight their exceptional qualities.

    Step 6: Detail the Candidate’s Academic and Professional Abilities

    Write about the candidate’s academic strengths, intellectual abilities, and professional competencies, particularly those relevant to the program they’re applying for. Use specific examples from your time working with them.

    Step 7: Discuss Personal Qualities

    Highlight the candidate’s personal attributes that make them stand out, such as resilience, leadership, creativity, teamwork, communication skills, etc. Again, provide examples to illustrate these traits.

    Step 8: Describe Their Suitability for the Program

    Talk about why you believe the candidate would excel in the specific graduate program. Align their skills, experience, and career goals with what the program offers.

    Step 9: Conclude with a Strong Endorsement

    In the concluding paragraph, summarize your endorsement of the candidate and their suitability for the program. Indicate your confidence in their potential for success.

    Step 10: Provide Your Contact Information

    Include your contact details (email and phone number) in case the admissions committee has any follow-up questions.

    Step 11: Sign Off Politely

    End the letter with a formal sign-off like “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” followed by your full name, title, and affiliation.

    Step 12: Proofread and Edit

    Review your letter for any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. Make sure the information is accurate and the tone is professional and positive.

    Step 13: Submit the Letter

    Follow the graduate program’s instructions for submitting the letter. If you’re emailing it, include a professional subject line and a brief, polite message in the body of the email.

    Graduate school recommendation letter example

    Subject: Recommendation for John Doe for the Master’s in Computer Science Program

    Dear Admissions Committee,

    I am writing to recommend John Doe for your Master’s in Computer Science program. I have had the pleasure of knowing John for the past three years during which he has been a student in my Computer Science classes at XYZ University. I have also supervised his senior year project, which allowed me to witness his skills and abilities first hand.

    John has consistently demonstrated exceptional understanding and application of computer science principles. His coursework, particularly in software development and data analysis, has always been top-tier, placing him in the top 5% of his class. However, his capabilities extend beyond academic performance. His passion for the subject is evident in his active participation in class discussions and his constant desire to learn more.

    During his senior project, he designed a mobile application that aids in waste management. His ability to take a complex problem, break it down, and build an effective, user-friendly solution was impressive. He exhibited excellent problem-solving skills, creativity, and a strong work ethic. He led a team of four students and displayed remarkable leadership and team management skills throughout the project.

    In addition to his academic and leadership skills, John is an individual of high integrity and resilience. He is always willing to assist his peers, demonstrating his strong sense of community and collaboration. His enthusiastic participation in our department’s outreach program for underprivileged high school students underscores his commitment to using his skills for the betterment of society.

    I am confident that John would be an excellent addition to your Master’s in Computer Science program. His strong academic foundation, leadership abilities, innovative mindset, and dedication align perfectly with the program’s objectives. I am convinced that he will not only benefit greatly from this program but also make significant contributions to your institution.

    Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to provide additional insights into John’s qualifications.

    Thank you for considering my recommendation.

    Best regards,

    [Your Name]
    [Your Title]
    [Your Email]
    [Your Phone Number]


    How should I request a Letter of Recommendation?

    When requesting a Letter of Recommendation, it’s best to ask in person or through a polite and professional email. Provide your recommender with all necessary information, such as the application deadline, program details, and any specific points you would like them to address in the letter.

    How many Letters of Recommendation do I need for graduate school?

    The number of Letters of Recommendation required varies by institution and program. Generally, graduate schools ask for 2-3 letters, but it’s important to check the specific requirements of each program you are applying to.

    How long should a Letter of Recommendation be?

    The length of a Letter of Recommendation can vary, but it is generally recommended to keep it concise and focused. Ideally, the letter should be one to two pages in length.

    Should I waive my right to see the Letter of Recommendation?

    It is generally advisable to waive your right to see the Letter of Recommendation. Many graduate schools view confidential letters as more credible since they allow the recommender to provide an honest assessment. Waiving your right also demonstrates your trust in the recommender’s judgment.

    How early should I request a Letter of Recommendation?

    It is courteous to give your recommenders at least a month’s notice before the application deadline. This allows them enough time to write a thoughtful letter without feeling rushed.

    What supporting documents should I provide to my recommender?

    To assist your recommender in writing an effective letter, provide them with relevant documents such as your resume, academic transcripts, personal statement, and any other materials that can give them a comprehensive understanding of your qualifications and goals.

    How can I show my appreciation to my recommenders?

    It is essential to express gratitude to your recommenders for taking the time to write your letters. A personalized thank-you note or email, a small gift, or even a heartfelt conversation can demonstrate your appreciation for their support.

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    Betina Jessen

    Betina Jessen

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