Academic Recommendation Letters

Academic Reference Letter Examples and Writing Tips

Professor and student talking
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Academic recommendations include a variety of types of letters. These might be college recommendation letters, graduate school recommendation letters, letters from teachers, letters for teachers, and more.

Read below for advice on how to write an academic recommendation letter, as well as example letters.

Advice for Writing an Academic Recommendation Letter

  • Focus on the particular school. If the recommendation is for a college or graduate school, ask the student for information on the school or program. Try to focus on the student’s skills that relate to their ability to succeed at that school. If the letter is for a teacher, ask for a description of the job. Even if it is a more general letter, ask the person about the types of schools and/or jobs they are applying for.
  • Collect information. Ask the person for whom you’re writing the letter for a copy of his or her resume or CV, so that you can speak to the person’s experience. If it is for a student, you might also ask for a list of the person’s relevant coursework.
  • Explain how you know the person. In the introduction, briefly explain how you know the person. If the letter is for a former student, explain how many courses the student took with you, and/or if you worked with them in any other capacity (as your teaching assistant, an advisee, etc.)
  • Include specific examples. In the letter, provide specific examples of ways in which the person has demonstrated various skills and qualities. Try to think of examples from when the person was in your class, or (if the person is a teacher) when the person worked for you.
  • Remain positive. State that you think this person is a strong candidate for the job or the school. You might say something like you “recommend this person without reservation.” Emphasize this especially at the beginning and end of the letter. After all, you want to help this candidate stand out.
  • Share your contact information. Provide a way for the school or the employer to contact you if they have further questions. Include your email address, telephone number, or both at the end of the letter.
  • Follow the submission guidelines. Ask the person for whom you are writing how to submit the letter. Make sure you follow any requirements, especially about where to send it and when, as well as the format (for example, PDF, physical letter, etc.)
  • Think carefully about saying yes. Make sure you only agree to write the letter if you can write a positive recommendation. If you don’t think you can, tell the person you are not comfortable writing the recommendation. Here’s how to turn down a recommendation request.

How to Use Recommendation Letter Examples

It is a good idea to review letter of recommendation samples before writing your letter. Along with helping with your layout, examples can help you see what kind of content you should include in your document.

You might also look at letter of recommendation templates to get a sense of how to lay out your recommendation, and what to include (such as introductions and body paragraphs).

There are also useful guidelines for formatting recommendation letters including length, format, font, and how to organize your letters.

While examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point to your letter, you should always be flexible. You should tailor a letter example to fit the candidate’s work history, and the job or school to which he or she is applying.

Academic Recommendation Letters

College Recommendation Letters

Graduate School Recommendation Letters

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Advice on how to write a letter of recommendation, including what to include in each section of the letter, how to send it, and sample letters of recommendation for employment and academics.


More Sample Recommendation Letters
Sample reference and recommendation letters, letter samples for character references, reference and recommendation letter templates, and sample letters asking for a reference.

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