Letter of recommendation

What is a graduate school letter of recommendation?

Like professional references during a job search, letters of recommendation help support your graduate school application by providing a third-party view of your ability to perform well in graduate school.

First, here is how ASU asks for letters of recommendation.

You will be asked as part of your application for graduate admission to provide the names and contact information for individuals who can write and submit a letter of recommendation for you. Many academic programs ask for three, and some will indicate the backgrounds they want for recommenders (e.g., a current or former professor). You will see this information in the application, but you can also review it in Degree Search.

When you submit your application and application fee, your recommenders will receive notification that they have been asked to electronically submit a recommendation. Let your recommender know that they should receive an email from ASU — you don’t want this to end up in their spam or junk folder.

You will be able to monitor the status of the recommendation through My ASU and prompt any recommenders who have not submitted their recommendation. You will be able to change a recommender if necessary.

Advice for letters of recommendation

Don't procrastinate

Give your recommenders plenty of time to create a strong letter of recommendation. Request their support well before the application date for your program.

Give your recommenders some information about the program you are applying for

You may want to share your personal statement with your recommenders so they can have a better understanding of your academic goals. You can also send your recommenders a link to the degree page in Degree Search.

Find someone who can speak to your academic background and ability to succeed in graduate school

Focus on recommenders with whom you worked closely in classes or on research or service projects. For non-academic recommenders, supervisors or colleagues who can attest to your skills, knowledge and contributions at work can offer strong letters.

Send a thank you note

Keep an eye on your recommender tab on My ASU. Once your recommenders have submitted their recommendations, follow up with a thank you note. Your recommenders are valuable resources for you so you should recognize the time they spent in supporting your application.

Frequently asked questions about graduate school letters of recommendation

Can I submit more than the required letters of recommendation?

It is suggested that you closely follow the guidelines outlined by your program’s application process and submit only the number of letters of recommendation that it asks for.

Must all letters of recommendation be submitted online?

Letters of recommendation should be submitted online. If one of your recommenders is unable to submit their letter of recommendation online, contact your program to arrange for special accommodations.

Can I add or change recommenders after their letters have been submitted?

No. You can only change recommenders if one of them is not responsive to the request for a letter of recommendation or to your prompts.

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