Recommendation Letters

Student Guidelines


  • Always ask your professors if they are willing to write for you.
  • Make sure to give your referees adequate time to write your letters (at least three weeks).
  • Let your referees know the outcome of your application and thank them for their help.

Selecting Referees

Choose professors who know your work well:

  • Faculty with whom you have taken several classes and/or small classes that have given them an opportunity to get to know you and your work
  • Faculty who have supervised an independent research project or enlisted you to assist with their own research
  • Your honors or thesis advisor

Assisting the Professor

Provide a cover letter in which you explain:

  • What you are applying for (attach information about the fellowship, if possible) and the address for the scholarship's website
  • When the letter must be sent (this may be a campus deadline or the final deadline posted by the scholarship)
  • Where the letter should be sent – the Fellowships Office or the Foundation – and provide the correct mailing address
  • What courses you have taken (from the professor)

Most Important

  • Be sure to include the form on which the recommendation should be sent. If the letter is to be submitted online, make sure that you have the writer's correct email address. Many online applications now ask for the email address in order to send the recommender directions on how to upload the letter.
  • If you need to fill in the names and positions of the referees on the form, ask your professors for their precise titles (i.e. instructor, visiting professor, assistant professor, etc.)
  • Provide a copy of your resume, personal statement, and other essays you will submit as part of your application.
  • Provide contact information (phone numbers, email address, etc.) so that your referees can reach you if they have any questions.
  • Provide copies of work that you completed for this professor so they can refer to specific examples when writing your letter.
  • Offer to meet with the referee if they would like to learn more about the fellowships and/or get to know you better.