How to Ask for – and Get – Great Letters of Recommendation
Why Letters of Recommendation Are Important
Who to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
- Plan ahead. Ask your recommenders well ahead of your application deadline — ideally at least six to eight weeks in advance. This will help to ensure they have ample time to craft a meaningful, well-considered letter. Rushed recommendation letters tend to be lower quality and not as personalized. Also, it’s simply not polite to expect your recommender to write a well-intended letter in just a few days.
- Explain why they are the one for the job. Communicate up front why you value your recommenders’ opinions and respect their professional expertise. Why do you look up to them? Why does their opinion of you matter? What qualities do they have that you want your recommendation to reflect?
What to Do When They Say “Yes”
- Facts about the MPH program(s) you are applying to. Let your letter writers know exactly which schools you are applying to and why you’ve selected each school. You may find that it is helpful to write a “letter of interest” that outlines this information.
- Information about you. Provide your letter writers with a copy of your resume as well as a list of specific accomplishments. If you are asking a professor to write a letter, include one or two papers you’ve written that are relevant to the degree you hope to earn. This can help jog their memories and make it easier for them to include specific examples. You may also want to share with them your admissions essay.
- Be clear as to when they need to submit the completed letter. You may want to suggest a date that is several weeks earlier than your absolute deadline, just be certain that your request is completed on time.
- Give your letter writers the mailing or online uploading instructions. It is also a good idea to provide them with a pre-addressed, pre-paid envelope.
After the Application Process
- Let them know you’ve been accepted! Letter writers love to know their efforts have been successful in helping a student gain acceptance to a program. Let them know if their work has paid off!