Asking for a letter of recommendation from a college professor can feel awkward, but it shouldn’t be. College applicants who take the time to choose the right person and ask in the right way are more likely to receive a strong letter that will help them get into the school of their dreams.
In this guide with 5 sample request for letter of recommendation from professor examples, we will show you how to ask your professor for a recommendation the right way.
What is a letter of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation is a letter written by someone who knows you (typically a teacher, counselor, or coach) to vouch for your character and abilities.
Most colleges require at least one letter of recommendation as part of your application, and usually they’ll ask for two or three.
The idea is that your recommenders can provide insight into your personality and work ethic that may not be apparent from your grades and test scores. When choosing recommenders, try to pick people who can speak to different aspects of your personality and accomplishments.
Letters of recommendation are just one part of the college application process, but they can be really important in giving admissions officers a well-rounded view of who you are.
Who requires a letter of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation may be needed for college applications, scholarships, internships, and even jobs. The requesting party may need a letter of recommendation to assess your character, academic performance, or skills.
For example, if you are applying for a highly competitive scholarship, the selection committee might request letters of recommendation to help them decide who to award the money to.
Similarly, if you’re applying for an internship at a prestigious company, they may want to hear from past supervisors about your work ethic and character.
In case of college applications, your recommenders will likely be asked to comment on your academic achievement and potential, as well as your personal qualities.
Some colleges may even specifically request that a letter of recommendation address your leadership abilities, service involvement, or creative talents
Who to ask for a letter of recommendation for graduate school?
For graduate school applications, you’ll need to provide letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your academic ability and potential. These could be professors, research supervisors, or employers.
Your recommenders should be able to speak to your strengths as a student and researcher. They should also be able to attest to your character and motivation for pursuing graduate studies.
The ideal recommender should be someone who knows you well and can speak to your intellectual abilities and potential for success in graduate school. If you’re not sure who to ask, start by thinking about which professors or employers you have a good relationship with. These are the people who will be able to write the most detailed and positive letters of recommendation.
Most colleges will give you specific instructions on who should write your letters of recommendation, so make sure to check those before you ask anyone. Some schools may only accept letters from your professors, or they may have a preference for how many academic and how many non-academic letters they would like to see.
How to ask for a letter of recommendation for college?
So now that we know how to pick your recommender, it’s time to actually ask for one. Let’s go over some steps of what to do and what not to do when asking for a letter of recommendation.
- Give them plenty of time to write the letter. A minimum of a month is a good timeline to give your recommender, but the more time they have, the better.
- Provide them with all the information they need. This includes your resume, a list of awards and extracurricular activities, your personal statement, and any other supplemental materials that might be helpful.
- Let them know what schools you’re applying to and when the deadlines are.
- Remind them of your positive attributes and why you think they would be a good fit for the schools you’re applying to.
- Thank them in advance for taking the time to write the letter.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to ask for a letter of recommendation. Your professors are busy people and they may not be able to accommodate your request if you wait until the last minute.
- Don’t be vague about what you need the letter of recommendation for. Your professor will need to know what the letter is for in order to write an effective one.
- Don’t assume that your professor will automatically say yes to your request. They may be willing to write you a letter of recommendation, but they may also have other commitments that prevent them from being able to do so.
- Don’t provide your professor with outdated or irrelevant information. They will need to know your current GPA, what classes you have taken with them, and other relevant information in order to write you a strong letter of recommendation.
By following these steps, you can make sure that you are asking for a letter of recommendation in the best way possible.
What should be included in a recommendation letter?
A well-written letter of recommendation should:
- Include a brief introduction about who the recommender is and how they know the student
- Speak to the student’s strengths as a student and researcher
- Comment on the student’s character and motivation
- Explain why the student would be a good fit for the school they’re applying to
A letter of recommendation should be positive, but it should also be honest. The recommender should only write about qualities that they have actually seen in the student.
A letter of recommendation should be specific and tailored to the student. The recommender should mention specific examples of the student’s strengths in order to make their letter more persuasive.
When should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
Ideally, you should ask for letters of recommendation 2 months before they’re due. This will give your recommender enough time to write a strong letter without feeling rushed. It will also give you plenty of time to follow up and remind your recommender about your request in case they forget about it.
If you wait until the last minute to ask, your recommender may not have time to write a detailed letter, or they may be less likely to write a positive letter.
Keep in mind that some people may not be able to write you a letter of recommendation if they’re too busy or if they don’t know you well enough. So it’s always best to ask as early as possible.
Sample request for letter of recommendation from professor examples
Here are 5 sample email templates you can use as a sample request for letter of recommendation from professor recommenders.
Sample #1 – Letter of recommendation from professor for Master’s degree
Subject: Request for Letter of Recommendation
Dear Professor Smith,
I am writing to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me. I am applying to Masters programs in computer science and would be very grateful if you could write a letter of recommendation for me.
I have enclosed my CV, a list of the classes I have taken with you, and a sample of my research. I would be happy to provide you with any additional information that you might need.
I am available to meet with you at your convenience to discuss my application. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Sample #2 – How to ask for a letter of recommendation via email sample
Subject: Request for Letter of Recommendation
Dear Professor Parker,
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request your help with a very important matter – I am applying to college and I would be extremely appreciative if you could provide me with a letter of recommendation.
As you may know, the admissions process is extremely competitive and a strong letter of recommendation can make a big difference. I am confident that a letter from you would be very helpful in my application and I would be honored to receive your endorsement.
The universities I am applying to include University of Maryland, North Carolina State University, and University of Colorado Boulder. The earliest deadline for application submission is November 1, so I would be grateful if you could fulfill my request by October 15, if you are not too busy.
I truly appreciate your help and look forward to your response.
Sample #3 – Sample request for letter of recommendation from professor
Subject: Request for a letter of recommendation
Dear Professor Mertzinger,
I am writing to ask if you would be able to write me a letter of recommendation for my graduate school application. I have been a student of yours for the past two years and I would be very grateful if you could write a letter on my behalf.
I am applying to graduate school to study human-computer interfaces and I believe that your letter would be of great help in my application process. Specifically, I am applying to University of Washington, University of California Berkeley, and Stanford University.
The deadline for the earliest application is October 1st and I would need the letter of recommendation by September 15th. If you are unable to write the letter by that date, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can make alternative arrangements.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample #4 – Recommendation letter request email
Subject: Recommendation letter request
Dear Professor Arnolds,
I am writing to request your help with a letter of recommendation for graduate school. I have been a student in your class for the past two years and I would be very grateful if you could write a letter of recommendation on my behalf. I am attaching my resume and transcript so that you can get an idea of my academic achievements.
If you are able to write me a letter of recommendation, I would need to submit my application by the deadline of _____. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sample #5 – Sample email asking for letter of recommendation from professor
Subject: Request for letter of recommendation
Hello Professor Kratz,
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request your help with a very important matter – I am in the process of applying to graduate school and I would be extremely appreciative if you could write a letter of recommendation on my behalf.
Your letter would mean the world to me and would be instrumental in helping me reach my academic goals. I am confident that you know me well enough to speak to my strengths, abilities and potential as a graduate student.
I have attached my resume, application materials, and a list of universities I am applying to, as well as the deadlines for each application. I am confident that I meet the requirements for admission to each of these programs and your letter of recommendation would be the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
All right! Asking for letters of recommendation can seem difficult at first, but following these simple tips and examples will make the process much easier for you.
Be sure to choose the right person, give them plenty of notice, provide them with all the information they need, and say thank you when requesting letters and once you’ve received them.
By taking these steps, you’ll be on your way to getting strong letters that will help you get into your target colleges. And don’t forget to check out our Computer Science Personal Statement Guide with examples!
Now go and craft your own recommendation letter request email and be on your way to the program of your dreams!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.