Fellowship Office

Recommendation Letters

Student Guidelines


  • Always ask your professors if they are willing to write for you.
  • Make sure to give your referees adequate time to write your letters (at least three weeks).
  • Let your referees know the outcome of your application and thank them for their help.

Selecting Referees

Choose professors who know your work well:

  • Faculty with whom you have taken several classes and/or small classes that have given them an opportunity to get to know you and your work
  • Faculty who have supervised an independent research project or enlisted you to assist with their own research
  • Your honors or thesis advisor

Assisting the Professor

Provide a cover letter in which you explain:

  • What you are applying for (attach information about the fellowship, if possible) and the address for the scholarship's website
  • When the letter must be sent (this may be a campus deadline or the final deadline posted by the scholarship)
  • Where the letter should be sent – the Fellowships Office or the Foundation – and provide the correct mailing address
  • What courses you have taken (from the professor)

To do:

  • Be sure to include the form on which the recommendation should be sent or, if the letter is to be submitted online, make sure that you have the writer's correct e-mail address. Many online applications now ask for the e-mail address in order to send the recommender directions on how to upload the letter.
  • If you need to fill in the names and positions of the referees on the form, ask your professors for their precise titles (i.e. instructor, visiting professor, assistant professor, etc.)
  • Provide a copy of your resume, personal statement, and other essays you will submit as part of your application.
  • Provide contact information (phone numbers, e-mail address, etc.) so that your referees can reach you if they have any questions.
  • Provide copies of work that you completed for this professor so that s/he can refer to specific examples when writing your letter.
  • Offer to meet with the writer if sh/e would like to learn more about the fellowships and/or get to know you better.