Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School Example (+ Free Template Download)

A letter of recommendation for graduate school is a professional business letter (or reference letter) authored by professors, faculty, and other educators for students. The recommendation letter serves to vouch for a student’s coursework, grade point average (GPA), and general ambition. This is useful for the graduate school (or “grad school”) admissions committee.

These letters are often written by a professor since the student is in college-level education. A recommendation letter can be a requirement for a graduate program application. Multiple letters can be required for some graduate program applications and financial aid.

A recommender may be one or more of the following professionals for the student:

  • A professor or other faculty member.
  • A direct supervisor (internship supervisors are applicable) or a previous employer.
  • A priest, minister, or another significant community member.

Recommendation providers or letters authored by these individuals will be considered a “good grace” recommendation for the admissions officer. Each potential recommender is going to be seen as a significant figure to the admissions officer who is reading the letter of recommendation for the graduate admission consideration process.

These letters are sometimes referred to as a “grad school recommendation,” “grad school recommendation letter,” “graduate school letter,” or “grad school letter.” All of which are the same type of recommendation letter for an applicant to graduate school.

Writing a Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School

As a letter writer (author) or recommender, it can be important to bring up these qualities and insights in the letter:

  • Personal characteristics of the student that show promise and professionalism.
  • Significant and unique experiences with the student.
  • The student’s standardized test score results (usually GPA or other).
  • The student’s desired graduate study and further field of study.

Referring to test scores (or other academic performance metrics) can be a great way to show promise in the graduate student. Writing an effective letter often requires sharing a unique experience with the student that displays personal excellence and ambition. It may require the writer to spend time recalling experiences with the student. It’s better to have an academic reference when referring to a significant experience rather than a personal story.

Tip: As a student, since the confidential letter will never be shared, it can be helpful to provide the professor and author with objectives for the letter. A few bullet points on what to refer to can ensure a good letter turns into a great letter. A strong recommendation letter contains unique insights and references defining moments that describe personal characteristics and qualities.

Writers should read the college student's personal statement to get a sense of how the student is aiming to position themselves with the graduate school application. Ensure the student provides the application deadline and other online application requirements.

The author should include their contact information if the reader wants to contact them regarding the experiences referred to in the letter.

Graduate School Recommendation Letter Sample

Below is a sample letter of recommendation for a graduate school applicant.

John Foe
Chair Educator
Saious College

[email protected]

June 1st, 2019

Admissions Committee
Harvard Graduate School

Dear Admissions Committee —

This letter is intended to recommend Mr. John Hancock as a candidate for graduate school. I’ve worked closely with John over the past few years as an advisor, professor, and advisor at Saious College in New York City.

While a student here at the college, Mr. Hancock has shown exemplary ambition in his study field. He is currently graduating with honor and Magna Cum Laude, hitting a 3.9 GPA. On top of this, John has created multiple clubs within the college that have given other students the same passion that he shares.

John's initiative to turn our college into an even better educational institution is something quite special. He has embraced the idea that anything is possible and within these walls is ensuring that education doesn’t stop with books.

John and many of his classmates have produced writing, technology, and other assets shared with the student body. This has inspired many and has shown that John has ambitions well beyond his field of study.

Mr. Hancock would make an excellent addition to the graduate program that you offer. And I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about John and the level of excellence he shows regularly here at Salous College.

John Foe,
Chair Educator and Professor, Serious College

Recommendation Letter Templates

More recommendation letter resources.



author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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