What you should know about Academic Recommendation Letters

What you need to know about academic recommendation letters

What you should know about Academic Recommendation Letters


The recommendation letter is an important element of the application process, regardless of the country of choice or level of education. Before we get into it, there is one thing to note. Don’t confuse a reference letter with a recommendation letter; they are in fact two different documents. A reference letter doesn’t provide enough information from an admissions point of view. 

Specifically, two distinctive categories come to mind — professional and academic recommendation letters. As an applicant for undergraduate and/or graduate studies, the focus should be on drafting an academic letter. This letter allows the admissions officer to match the department’s requirements with the applicant’s skillset.


What is it’s purpose?

The purpose of a Letter of Recommendation is to outline one’s skills and achievements. Further, why the person is a good fit for that particular role, program or school. Excellent grades may not necessarily convince an admission officer the applicant is a good fit. However, a combination of good grades and personality traits may play a big role in landing that acceptance letter!


[Read about the importance of a Statement of Purpose in this blog post!]


Commonly asked questions

  • What does an Academic Recommendation Letter include?
  • How many letters do I need?
  • Who is the right person to ask?
  • When is the right time to get the letter?
  • How much information should I share with my recommenders? 


The answers

According to USNEWS, a well drafted recommendation letter leads the admissions officers towards performance indicators set outside the classroom setting. When it comes to the number of letters, most schools ask for a minimum of two and a maximum of three. In addition to the school principal, undergraduate applicants will require a letter from their subject teachers. Postgraduate applicants often require three letters from professors, preferably with doctorates in their field of expertise. However, it’s important to note the recommendation process is not complete over one meeting. Keeping this in mind, applicants should approach their recommenders six to eight months before application deadlines. With the right amount of time, recommenders can write a letter that will play a formative role towards completing the application well within the deadline. Recommenders will need information relevant to the applicant’s academic and extra-curricular achievements. While some can relate personality and leadership traits to these achievements, other recommenders may ask several questions to draft their letters.

At times, the process to get the academic recommendation letter may seem difficult. Admissions officers use this document to see beyond academic achievements. It also helps them better understand if you’re a proper fit for the program and school. Just remember, the possibility of receiving the acceptance letter makes it worth the effort!


Every school has a different set of requirements. You can find out every detail on ApplyBoard’s platform. Start your free account today to learn more about your dream school!


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