Need a Recommendation Letter?

I am very happy to write recommendation letters, but if you want me to write a letter or letters for you there are several things that I need. I realize that the list is rather long, but just remember that the more information you can give me, the better of a letter I can write!

Key points:

  • All of the information listed below should be provided electronically (in pdf/MS word/text file form) at least 2 weeks prior to the deadline.
  • I will only write confidential letters.
  • If you want me to write multiple letters, please give me the information for all of them at the same time. This will help me to ensure that I don’t accidentally forget to submit one or more letters due to requests being buried in my inbox. (Note: Med school letters all go through Interfolio, so this isn’t relevant for that type of letter.)

Information I need to write a letter:

I need the following information, in electronic (pdf, word, rtf, text file) form that is sent to me in a single email. Please do not give me paper copies - it’s far easier for me to keep track of digital copies!

  1. Your full name along with he name that you call yourself and the pronouns that you use. Why do I ask for your pronouns?
  2. A description of what you are applying for: is it some sort of academic honor? Medical school? Dental School? Graduate school? This information is necessary so that I can provide the correct level and variety of detail.
  3. If you are applying to med/dental/vet school, do you have a specialization in mind at this time? (For example, oncology, pediatric medicine, large-animal medicine, reconstructive dentistry…) What made you decide on this specialization?
  4. A note explaining why you are asking me to write a letter for you and who else will be writing letters for you. This helps me to adjust the content of my letter appropriately.
  5. A bullet-point list of things you would specifically like me to talk about in my letter. This isn’t meant to be a draft letter for me, but should be things that I should remember when I write a letter for you. This can include standard things from your CV (how I got to know you, prizes won, etc.) but should also include relevant anecdotes to make useful stories about you and your work (i.e., received perfect scores on all exams, first author of a research paper as a junior, etc.). This is not the time for modesty: you need to remind me of how amazing you are so I can emphasize this in my letter!
  6. A copy of your current transcript (unofficial is fine - MSU students, just go to StuInfo and send me a pdf of your grade report).
  7. A copy of your resume and/or CV.
  8. MCAT/GRE scores (if available).
  9. Your personal statement(s) / application essay.
  10. If you took one of my senior capstone courses, please give me a copy of one or two of the papers you wrote for my course.
  11. List of schools to which you will be applying and due dates (Not relevant for med school letters, since it all goes through Interfolio).
  12. The name and title of the person who will receive the completed letter, if relevant.
  13. Any forms that need to be filled out or signed, with information about you (your address, birth date, etc.) already filled in.
  14. If letters have to be submitted electronically: a list of the URLs or email addresses where I should send the letters. Med school applicants: Interfolio will send out an email, ignore this.
  15. If letters are to be mailed: a list of the organizations and people that the letters should be sent to AND addressed, stamped envelopes of the appropriate size and postage. Leave the return address area blank - I will fill this in myself.

Shamelessly stolen from Brian O’Shea.