Recommendation letter for grad school 2024 (guide + free samples)

A recommendation letter for grad school is a document written by someone who knows you well and can assess your abilities and qualifications.

It is typically written by a professor, employer, or mentor who can vouch for your skills, character, and potential for success in graduate studies.

The purpose of the recommendation letter for graduate school is to support your application to a graduate program by providing insight into your strengths, accomplishments, and personal qualities that make you a strong candidate.

It helps the admissions committee get a better understanding of your capabilities and potential contributions to their program.

The letter usually includes specific examples or anecdotes that highlight your abilities and may also compare you to other applicants or provide context for your achievements.

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If you’re applying for grad school, you’re likely well aware of the importance of having a strong recommendation letter in your arsenal.

But for many referees, writing a recommendation letter can be a daunting task.

Whether it’s due to language barriers or a busy schedule, some may struggle to put their thoughts into words.

Others may even rely on you to draft the letter and secure your approval before submitting it to the graduate school.

But don’t worry!

As an expert correspondence writer, I have had the privilege of crafting countless recommendation letters that have paved the way for aspiring individuals to embark on their academic journeys.

Through this blog post, I aim to share my extensive experience and insights, providing you with a comprehensive guide to understanding and mastering the art of writing powerful recommendation letters.

Here I will guide you through;

  • What is a recommendation letter for grad school?
  • Why recommendation letter for grad school is required?
  • Who may write a recommendation letter for grad school?
  • How do you request a recommendation letter for grad school? (+sample email)
  • What to include in a recommendation letter for grad school
  • What to avoid in a recommendation letter for grad school
  • Tips for the recommender
  • The role of the applicant
  • Recommendation letter for grad school samples
    • recommendation letter for grad school from employer
    • recommendation letter for grad school from a co-worker
    • recommendation letter for grad school from a professor
  • etc.

Let’s get started

Read also:

Recommendation letter for graduate school

A recommendation letter for graduate school is a document submitted as part of the graduate school application process and to supplement your transcripts, test scores, personal statement, etc.

The recommendation letter helps the admissions committee to get a better sense of your strengths, weaknesses, and overall fit for the program.

Make sure you pay attention to the guidelines set forth by each individual graduate school you are applying to, as the requirements for a recommendation letter could differ from one to another.

For example, the following is a recommendation letter requirements for Stanford University

They say

Three letters of recommendation are required for your application.

Letters of recommendation should come from academic or professional references who know you well and are qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work.

Please write candidly about the applicant’s qualifications, potential to carry on advanced study in the field specified, intellectual independence, capability for analytical thinking, ability to organize and express ideas clearly, and potential for teaching. Descriptions of significant actions, accomplishments, character, and personal qualities related to scholarly achievement are particularly helpful.

Why recommendation letter for grad school is required?

Here is why a recommendation letter for grad school is required.

  • To comply with school admission requirements
  • To provide the admissions committee with valuable information about the applicant’s character, academic abilities, and potential for success in graduate school
  • To highlight the applicant’s strengths and achievements, showcase his passion for your chosen field of study, and demonstrate your commitment to furthering his education
  • A strong recommendation letter can help to differentiate one applicant from other applicants and make him stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee.
  • It also serves as a vote of confidence in the applicant’s ability to succeed in grad school, making her a more attractive candidate for admission.

Who may write a recommendation letter for grad school?

A recommendation letter for grad school can be written by anyone who knows the applicant well and can provide a personal endorsement of their abilities, character, and potential for success in graduate school. Some common examples of people who may write a recommendation letter include:

  1. College professors or instructors
  2. Previous employers or supervisors
  3. Mentors or advisors
  4. Colleagues or co-workers
  5. Personal friends who know the applicant well

It is important to choose someone who can speak to your academic and personal qualities and who can write a letter that is both credible and persuasive.

When selecting someone to write a recommendation letter, consider their relationship with you, their expertise in your field of study, and their willingness and ability to write a strong letter on your behalf.

How do you request a recommendation letter for grad school?

Reaching out to the right person for a recommendation letter is the first step toward a successful grad school application.

To find the ideal professor, teacher, or supervisor who can vouch for your qualifications, it’s best to approach them either in person or through email.

When you make the request, it’s important to provide them with all the necessary information to write a compelling letter. This could be anything from your transcripts, CV, or personal statement. Arm them with everything they need to paint a picture of your unique strengths and capabilities.

Stay on top of things by following up with your recommender regularly. Make sure they’re on track to submit the letter on time and don’t forget to show your gratitude for their time and effort.

Remember, requesting a recommendation letter for grad school is all about effective communication and organization. By being well-prepared and respectful, you’ll increase your chances of securing strong letters of recommendation that will help you shine in the admissions process.

Struggling with what to say?

here is a sample email

Sample Email to request a recommendation letter for grad school

Subject: A Request for Your Support on My Grad School Journey

Dear [Name of Recommender],

It is with great enthusiasm I am writing to request your invaluable support as I embark on a new chapter in my academic journey – applying for grad school. I believe that education is the foundation for personal and professional growth, and I am eager to deepen my understanding of [field of study] by pursuing a [name of program] at [Name of Graduate School].

I would be beyond grateful if you could write a recommendation letter for me. Your endorsement would be a shining light on my application, helping me to stand out among the countless other applicants.

To make the process a little easier for you, I have attached my resume, transcripts, and a brief statement of my goals and qualifications. I want to make sure that you have all the information you need to craft a strong letter of recommendation.

I understand that writing a recommendation letter can take some time, so I would be thrilled if you could let me know by [date] if you are able to write a letter for me. If you are able to write a letter, I am here to provide any additional materials or answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for considering my request, and for being a part of this exciting journey. I truly appreciate your time and support, and I am eager to hear back from you soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Read also: Free Request letter of recommendation samples

What to include in a recommendation letter for grad school

A strong recommendation letter for grad school should include the following elements:

  1. Introduction: Provide a brief introduction about your relationship with the candidate, how long you have known them, and in what capacity.
  2. Personal Qualities: Highlight the candidate’s personal qualities and characteristics, such as their leadership skills, ability to work in a team, strong work ethic, and intellectual curiosity.
  3. Academic or Professional Achievements: Discuss the candidate’s academic or professional achievements, such as their grades, awards, or notable projects they have completed.
  4. Relevance to the Program: Explain how the candidate’s background and achievements make them a strong fit for the grad school program they are applying to.
  5. Unique Qualifications: Emphasize the candidate’s unique strengths and qualities that make them stand out from other applicants.
  6. Future Potential: Discuss the candidate’s future potential and how they will contribute to the academic and professional communities in the future.
  7. Conclusion: End the letter by summarizing your recommendation and reiterating your support for the candidate.

By including these elements in the recommendation letter, you’ll provide the admissions committee with a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s strengths, achievements, and future potential.

This will help them evaluate the candidate’s fit for the grad school program and increase their chances of admission.

What to avoid in a recommendation letter for grad school

When writing a recommendation letter for grad school, it’s important to avoid the following:

Inadequate or vague details

A recommendation letter should provide specific examples and details that demonstrate the candidate’s strengths and abilities. Avoid using generic or vague statements such as “the applicant is hardworking” or “the applicant is a great person.”

Negativity or criticism

The purpose of a recommendation letter is to endorse the candidate and highlight their strengths. Avoid making negative or critical comments about the candidate or their work, as it will harm their chances of being admitted to grad school.

Lack of credibility

The recommendation letter should come from someone who has a professional relationship with the candidate and is credible in their field. Avoid getting letters from friends or family members, as they lack credibility in the academic world.

Breaking confidentiality

A recommendation letter should be written in confidence, and the recommender should not reveal any personal or sensitive information about the candidate.


Avoid making any factual inaccuracies in the letter. Double-check dates, names, and other important details to ensure accuracy.

Excessive length

Recommendation letters should be concise and to the point. Avoid writing lengthy letters that may bore the reader and detract from the candidate’s strengths.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll write a strong and effective recommendation letter that will help the candidate stand out in the grad school admissions process.

Tips for the recommender for writing a recommendation letter for grad school

Here are a few tips to help you craft a recommendation letter that truly stands out:

Start early

Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing the recommendation letter. Give yourself enough time to gather all the information you need, reflect on your experiences with the candidate, and put together a well-written letter.

Be specific and concrete

Avoid using general statements and provide concrete examples of the candidate’s abilities and achievements. For example, instead of simply saying “John is a hard worker,” say “John consistently stays late to complete his assignments and has demonstrated his dedication by consistently achieving high grades.”

Highlight unique qualities and achievements

What sets the candidate apart from others? What makes them special and deserving of a place in grad school? Make sure to highlight these unique qualities and achievements in your recommendation letter.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to writing a recommendation letter that will make a lasting impression on the graduate school admission committee.

The role of the applicant in a recommendation letter for grad school

In order to secure a strong recommendation letter, as the applicant you must play an active role in the process.

Here is how

Provide Relevant information

This is your primary responsibility.

As the applicant, you must provide the recommender with all the necessary information about your academic background, work experience, skills, and future goals.

This information will help the recommender write a personalized and specific letter that highlights your strengths and achievements.

Asking for a Strong Recommendation:

Once you provided the necessary information to the recommender, you should politely ask the recommender to write a strong recommendation letter.

You may provide the recommender with a draft of the letter or simply request their assistance in writing a recommendation.

Following Up with the Recommender

After being sure that a recommender is making something for you, you should also follow up with him to make sure that the letter has been submitted on time.

This is important to avoid any delays in the application process.

When following up, offer to provide additional information or answer any questions that the recommender may have.

Recommendation letter for grad school template

[Your Name]
[City, State ZIP Code]
[Phone Number]
[Email Address]


[Admissions Committee/Director of Admissions/School Name]
[Department Name/Graduate Program Name]
[City, State ZIP Code]

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am writing to you on behalf of [Applicant’s Name], a truly exceptional and dedicated student who I have had the privilege of teaching and working with. [Graduate School Name] would greatly benefit from [Applicant’s Name]’s enrollment in their [Graduate Program].

As a [professor/employer/supervisor/] with [number of years] of experience, I can confidently say that [Applicant’s Name] stands out among my students. [He/She] consistently shows a deep understanding and passion for [field of study], as demonstrated in [his/her] participation in [class/work] and [his/her] willingness to delve deeper into complex theories. [Applicant’s Name] has also displayed a strong work ethic, constantly pushing [himself/herself] to improve and expand [his/her] knowledge in [field of study].

[Applicant’s Name] is not only academically gifted but [he/she] is also a sociable and gregarious individual who makes everyone around [him/her] feel welcome and important. [His/Her] writing skills and ability to articulate at a high level have been praised by other professors. [Applicant’s Name]’s recent paper is a testament to [his/her] passion and comprehension of [field of study]. [His/Her] writing is well-structured, clear, and concise, showcasing [his/her] countless hours of research and dedication.

I am confident that [Applicant’s Name] will thrive in [Graduate School Name], impressing [his/her] professors with [his/her] intelligence and dedication. If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the email address provided.


[Your Name]
[Your Title

Recommendation letter for grad school from a professor

Dear Admissions Committee,

It’s my absolute pleasure to write a letter of recommendation for one of the most brilliant and dedicated students I have had the honor of teaching. I have no doubt that James Bush will be an exceptional addition to Harvard University.

As a professor of psychology at Stanford University, I have seen my fair share of students come and go, but James Bush stands out from the rest. From the moment I met him in my Cognitive Science course, I knew he was destined for great things. James’s passion for psychology is palpable, and he has a natural talent for delving into complex theories and concepts with ease.

In my 16 years of teaching, I have never encountered a student who is as dedicated and hard-working as James. He is constantly pushing himself to be better, always striving to understand and grasp the material at a deeper level. His participation in class is always welcome, as he poses insightful questions and contributes valuable insights to our discussions.

Not only is James a standout in psychology, but he also possesses a remarkable ability to articulate and express himself in writing. His most recent paper, a review of the relationship between behavioral and cognitive psychology, was not only well-researched but also elegantly written and presented. James has a natural talent for crafting captivating arguments and presenting evidence in a clear and concise manner. I have no doubt that he will continue to impress and make valuable contributions to the field of psychology in the future.

James is not only a gifted student but he is also a kind, sociable individual who makes everyone around him feel welcome and important. He is a true joy to be around, and his infectious enthusiasm for Pyscology is contagious.

It is without hesitation that I recommend James bush for admission to Harvard University’s Masters in Psychology. I have no doubt that he will thrive in the program and continue to excel in his studies. If you require any further information about James, please do not hesitate to contact me via the email address I have provided.


Dr. Kennedy ChapmanPsychology
Professor at Stanford University

Recommendation letter for grad school from employer

Dear Admissions Committee,

It is my distinct pleasure to recommend one of my top employees, Jane King, for the Master of Business Administration program at your esteemed institution, Oxford University. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Jane for the past five years, and in that time, I have been consistently impressed by her unwavering drive and ambition.

Jane joined our company as a fresh-faced intern, eager to learn and make a name for herself. It wasn’t long before she began to stand out from the crowd, displaying a level of tenacity and determination that is truly rare. She consistently went above and beyond her job duties, taking on new projects and initiatives with ease, and always making sure to bring her A-game. Her contributions have been invaluable to our company as she was able to increase our company’s overall productivity by 6.8%, and she has quickly become one of our most trusted employees.

But what truly sets Jane apart from the rest is her impeccable leadership skills. Despite her young age, Jane has a natural ability to rally and motivate her colleagues, and her infectious enthusiasm for her work has inspired countless others to reach for the stars. She is the epitome of a team player, always willing to lend a helping hand and go the extra mile for her colleagues.

In the years since she joined us, Jane has blossomed into a true asset to our company. Her drive and determination, combined with her impeccable leadership skills, make her a truly remarkable individual. I am confident that she will make an equally impressive impact on the Master of Business Administration program, and I wholeheartedly endorse her for admission.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about Jane, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to elaborate on her many achievements and abilities.


Thomas Ford
CEO, ABC Technologies

Recommendation letter for grad school from a co-worker

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am thrilled to write this recommendation letter for Kelly Rowen, who I have had the privilege of working alongside at XYZ Company for the past three years. As Kelly’s co-worker and friend, I have seen her continuously go above and beyond her responsibilities, showcasing her exceptional work ethic and unwavering dedication to her career.

Kelly is a true asset to our team, and it is a testament to her talent that she has been promoted twice within her three years here. Her innate ability to analyze complex data and provide insightful solutions to our clients has earned her a reputation of excellence within our company. Her natural leadership skills and infectious positive attitude make her a joy to work with and have earned her the respect and admiration of her colleagues.

It is with great pleasure that I recommend Kelly for the Master of Business Administration program at Claremont Graduate University. I am confident that Kelly will bring her exceptional talents, drive, and passion to her studies and thrive in this academic environment. Her dedication and hard work will serve her well as she continues to advance in her education and career.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse Kelly Doe as a highly qualified candidate for CGU’s MBA program. If you have any further questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Isack Smith
Business Operational lead, XYZ company

FAQ about recommendation letter for grad school

How many recommendation letters are required for grad school?

The number of required letters varies from school to school, but typically, two to three letters are sufficient.

What is the deadline for submitting a recommendation letter for grad school?

Deadlines for submitting recommendation letters vary from school to school, but they are usually the same as the application deadline. It’s important to give the letter writer ample time to complete the letter, so it’s recommended to request the letter at least 4-6 weeks in advance of the deadline.

How do I ask someone to write a recommendation letter for grad school?

To ask someone to write a recommendation letter, it’s best to make a personal request either in person, by email, or over the phone. When making the request, provide the writer with your resume, transcripts, and any other relevant materials that may help them write a more comprehensive letter. It’s also important to let the writer know the deadline for submitting the letter and how it should be submitted.

What if my recommenders are not responding to my requests?

If your recommenders are not responding to your requests, it’s best to follow up with a polite and friendly email or phone call. If they still do not respond, it may be time to consider alternative letter writers.

Can I submit a letter of recommendation that I wrote myself?

Most graduate schools do not accept letters of recommendation that the applicant has written themselves, as they are looking for an independent assessment of the applicant’s abilities and character.

How important is the recommendation letter for grad school admission?

The recommendation letter is an important component of the graduate school application, as it provides a third-party perspective on the applicant’s academic and personal qualities. It can help the admissions committee understand the applicant’s potential for success in graduate school and may help to set the applicant apart from other applicants.

Read also: Transcript request letter

Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Isack Kimaro brings over 7 years of extensive experience in professional writing. My career has been dedicated to mastering the art of clear, effective communication, essential for successfully professional correspondence.