How to Request Letters of Recommendation

Whether it is for graduate school, fellowships, or job opportunities, there will come a time when you will need to obtain letters of recommendation. Keep in mind that the best letters of recommendation are written by professors, staff, or supervisors who know you and your abilities very well. Thus, it’s important to start building positive relationships with those who supervise your work as earlier rather than later.

Here are tips and considerations to help you request letters of recommendations:

Who to Ask

  • Professors
  • Staff
  • Supervisors

How to Ask

  • Whether it is over email or in-person, be sure to ask your recommenders at least 4-6 weeks in advance to give them ample time to write your letter.
  • Explain the purpose of the letter and provide supporting documents (e.g. fellowship description, your resume) to help them write the letter.
  • Inform them of the deadline and any formatting or submission instructions, if relevant.

Follow Up

  • If you have not received a notification and your deadline is near, you will need to contact your recommender to remind them to complete your recommendation letter.
  • Write “Thank you” notes to your references.

Additional Resources