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A letter of recommendation for graduate study is a written endorsement of a candidate for graduate study that is submitted with the application. Recommendations should be written by professional or academic contacts who really know the applicant and can offer a credible perspective. The letter should be short and positive and should use specific examples when possible.
The point of this letter is not just to praise the applicant. Each has good qualities, but only some are made for graduate studies. The recommendation should provide an argument as to why the ambitious student will be successful in the target program. Also include:
Letter Of Recommendation Format For Graduate School
Whenever possible, statements should be supported by specific examples. It’s easy to say someone is intelligent or conscientious, but it’s more important to demonstrate a candidate’s strengths through anecdotes from the workplace or classroom.
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Applicants will need 2 to 4 letters of recommendation to support their graduate application. The best choices for writing these letters would be the candidate’s professors, supervisors, mentors, managers, and employers. The person writing the letter should be able to draw on a reasonably lengthy relationship to illustrate the applicant’s abilities, work habits and personal character.
A professor or mentor can easily assess a candidate’s academic qualities and scholastic temperament, while a manager or employer can refer to a long employment relationship to vouch for their character.
A graduate recommendation letter should be at least a full page (typically 400 – 600 words) and contain a header, introduction, up to 4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The introduction simply states who is writing the letter to whom and who is the candidate on whose behalf the author is writing. This paragraph should only be 2-4 sentences long.
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Example no. 1 Dear Sir/Madam: I am writing in support of Gary Yamamoto and his desire to attend Dartmouth University’s cell biology master’s program. Every year I get countless requests to write letters like this, but I only try on behalf of a few great students. I wholeheartedly believe that only the most deserving students should have a place in any program, and Mr. Yamamoto is a very promising biology student.
In this example, a university professor writes on behalf of a student and emphasizes that he only recommends students who are suitable candidates for their program. By insisting that they don’t take submitting a letter of recommendation lightly, they make their recommendation more compelling.
Example no. 2 To whom it may concern: It is my great honor to write to you recommending Francine Charles for the BA in Art History. Francine has worked for me at The Word, a bookstore near the McGill campus, for the better part of the past three years, and I have found her to be a kind and hardworking person. Her knowledge and passion for art history spans millennia and includes many indigenous cultures.
This sample is written from the hiring manager’s point of view and includes the length of time the candidate has worked for this employer, as well as some of his positive qualities. Since this information is included in the introduction, it is necessary to include more personal thoughts and specific examples in the body of the letter.
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Next, the author will need to describe the context in which he has known the student and for how long. Describing the length of time the author has known the student and the nature of their relationship will add weight to the testimonials about the student’s positive qualities that follow in this section. In terms of length, this paragraph should be 3-6 simple sentences.
Example #1 During the Fall/Winter 2015 and 2016 semesters, I had the pleasure of having Mr. Yamamoto in my Evolutionary Biology and Microbiology 1 classes. Although my classes are quite large, I always pay attention to students who submit exemplary work. Gary’s work has always been meticulous and well organized, and most importantly, his work and test scores have been in the top percentile of his program. Compared to most of his peers, I can confidently say that Mr. Yamamoto is an outstanding student who will bring great value to any university he chooses to attend.
Here the professor uses comparison and personal observations to emphasize that the candidate is an excellent student. They also state how long they have known the student.
Example no. 2 I first met Jacinthe four years ago when she came to me for counseling. I remember being impressed by her cheerful enthusiasm and the importance she placed on her education. While most first-year students are content with a simple first-year course schedule, Jacinte wanted to make sure her course schedule would favor her ability to excel and give her the most opportunities for future studies. These important early choices helped Jacinte make the Dean’s List three years in a row and allowed her to pursue extracurricular interests in sports and student government.
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In this example, the author describes their first meeting with a student. With this they say that the student is unforgettable, and they also state how long they have known him. They highlight the student’s academic success and provide positive examples of the applicant’s personal qualities (which will be expanded on in the next section).
After describing the author’s relationship with the student, the next paragraph(s) will illustrate the student’s competencies and positive attributes in what will make up the body of the letter. This section should contain positive descriptions of the student’s work habits, character and sense of responsibility. This section of the letter only needs one paragraph, but can be up to 3 paragraphs, depending on how much detail the writer chooses to include.
Example #1 Although Corey consistently demonstrates his skill, ingenuity, and willingness to work, the best example of his intelligence shone through when I asked him to take inventory of all the materials in the building. In the production of books and other materials we have a wide range of paper, ink and other materials. Instead of simply counting each item and returning it to its place of origin, he will first remove all the items and rearrange the shelves and bins in such a way that they will be easier to count in the future. Much to my surprise, Corey was able to take all of the inventory before the end of the day, leaving the work area organized for easier work flow and counting. This shows the way Corey is always willing to exceed expectations, work quickly and efficiently and take initiative when needed.
In the example above, the employer uses a specific example to illustrate the candidate’s positive qualities. It describes how the candidate exceeded the employer’s expectations and used their problem-solving skills to complete the task.
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Example #2 Gary was very helpful in the microbiology lab; with his great enthusiasm and passion for this subject, he made the last year more enjoyable for me personally. Volunteering his free time, he helped me during sophomore lab experiments, and in return I worked closely with him on his school projects. Offering help and knowing how to ask for it are, I believe, important skills for working within the scientific community, and especially in laboratory situations. I was most impressed when Gary suggested that we formulate an experiment for the students to investigate the effects of ultraviolet light on the rate of fermentation of yeast. He was responsible for compiling the necessary materials, and the class experiment was a complete success. As his school records attest, Mr. Yamamoto’s work is always of the highest caliber. I would argue that his academic gift, coupled with his ability to work in groups and perform in a competitive environment, makes him the perfect candidate for graduate study in microbiology.
In this longer example, the lab director uses multiple examples to demonstrate the candidate’s positive character, academic giftedness, school involvement, and ability to work in the candidate’s chosen field. By demonstrating their understanding of the requirements of a particular field of study, their recommendation will be taken more seriously.
The concluding paragraph should summarize and reaffirm the author’s recommendation for the applicant and should include the preferred method of contact. This paragraph should only be 2-4 sentences long. The author will also need to manually sign below the conclusion to authenticate the letter.
Example #1. I believe that this young man will continue to advance and prosper in the field of microbiology, and especially in experimental laboratory work. Gary Yamamoto is a very deserving candidate and I will be happy to provide more information if you need it. Feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] Sincerely, Mr. Homily
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In this simple example, the professor
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