In the sample letter below, a college professor recommends a student for a place in a graduate program. Note some of the key characteristics of this letter:
- The opening and closing paragraphs of the recommendation letter are shorter than the body paragraphs and more general in their observations.
- In the first sentence, the recommending professor (Dr. Nerdelbaum) identifies the student (Ms. Terri Student) and the particular program she's applying for (the Mental Health Counseling program at Huxley State University).
- In the second sentence of the opening paragraph, the professor gives an overview of the student's academic strengths.
- The two body paragraphs are organized chronologically.
- In the first sentence of the first body paragraph, the professor describes his supervisory relationship with the student and specifies how long he served in that role.
- The first body paragraph provides specific examples of how the student "generously assisted others."
- The first body paragraph includes a positive evaluation of the student's communication skills.
- In the second body paragraph, the professor focuses on the student's work in the master's program that he directs.
- The second paragraph notes the student's ability to conduct independent research and complete projects "in record time."
- The short conclusion highlights the student's sense of commitment and determination.
- In the final sentence, the professor clearly and firmly delivers his overall recommendation.
Sample Letter of Recommendation #1:
Professor's Recommendation for a Student Applying to Graduate School
Dear Dr. Kinison:
I welcome this opportunity to recommend Ms. Terri Student for a place in the Mental Health Counseling program at Huxley State University. She is an extraordinary student and an exceptional individual--extremely bright, energetic, articulate, and ambitious.
For more than two years Ms. Student worked for me as an assistant in the Office of Liberal Studies, managing routine office duties, helping to organize student workshops and forums, and interacting daily with faculty members, staff, and students. During this time I grew increasingly impressed by her academic and personal achievements. In addition to her outstanding work in a challenging undergraduate psychology program, Terri generously assisted others both on and off campus. She provided tutoring for other students, was actively involved in HOLF (Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at Faber), and served as a lab assistant in the psychology department. An accomplished writer and a gifted presenter (in both English and Spanish), she was recognized by her professors as one of our most promising graduates.
Later, while working as an assistant to the director of the college's residence halls, Terri continued her studies at the graduate level in our Masters of Liberal and Professional Studies degree program. I speak for all her professors when I say that she was a model student, effectively augmenting her course work in leadership and international studies with independent research in psychology. In addition, she completed all required course work in record time so that could accept an internship at the Coolidge Center in Arizona.
I assure you that Ms. Student will serve your program exceedingly well: she sets the highest standards for herself and does not rest until she accomplishes all that she sets out to do. I recommend Ms. Terri Student most highly and without reservation.
Dr. John Nerdelbaum,
Director of Liberal Studies at Faber College