Graduate School Letter of Recommendation Model — The Admit Lab

Philippe Barr, PhD
8 min readMar 16, 2023

While getting letters of recommendation can be a challenging process, writing up the perfect graduate school letter of recommendation for yourself can be nerve-racking.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: a graduate school letter of recommendation template! Armed with this guide on what makes a great letter of recommendation, plus a useful template to get started, you can start crafting the perfect document to help unlock those doors to success!

Why on earth are professors asking students to write their own letters of recommendation?

Many professors who agree to write letters of recommendation often request that the student provide them with a rough draft of the recommendation letter they would like them to write. Weird? Oh yeah! Crafting a self-appraisal from the point of view of another person can certainly be an odd experience for anyone! Yet, this is a fairly common practice in academia. Why? The reason is simple: professors are busy!

Every semester, professors are inundated with a plethora of letters to write — so much that it can become an overwhelming task. Consequently, they often ask students for some help in getting started on the writing process to make their workload more manageable. This also allows the professor to see what type of information the student is looking for and how they would like it framed. It also helps the professor know if there are any particular goals the student is aiming to achieve with the letter. The professor can then make any necessary changes or edits before sending the final version.

However odd the process can be, writing your own letters of recommendation can be a good thing for you. The upside of providing a rough draft is that you can help ensure that your recommendation letters accurately reflect your achievements and strengths.

The truth about letters of graduate school letter of recommendation templates

Do professors use templates themselves? Yes. Many professors use templates when writing letters of recommendation for their students. Templates are helpful because they provide a structure to organize the important information that should be included in the letter. Templates also allow professors to quickly and easily customize the letter for each student, ensuring that all of the pertinent information is included. By using templates, professors can save time and ensure that the letter accurately reflects their thoughts about the student. Templates also allow for consistency between letters of recommendation, which can be an important factor when considering college applications. Ultimately, professors may choose to use templates when writing letters of recommendation to ensure that they are able to effectively convey their thoughts about the student in an organized and clear manner.

WARNING: A template letter is the last thing you want!

Although we are providing you a template letter know, it is important to know that a template letter is the last thing you want from your professors because these letters tend to lack specificity, depth, and emotion. A generic letter of recommendation won’t stand out, and the admissions committee is likely to see through it quickly. When writing a letter of recommendation, it is important for professors to discuss a student’s strengths and skills in detail, as well as provide insight into their character. A template letter of recommendation simply won’t provide that level of detail and won’t do a student justice in the admissions process. A professor’s letter should also demonstrate their personal connection to the student, and a template letter just can’t do this. For these reasons, you should not want a template letter of recommendation from your professors for graduate school applications. You should instead strive to obtain letters of recommendation that are specific, and detailed and demonstrate a personal connection between the professor and you. Such letters can make a great impression on admissions committees and can help you stand out from the competition.

For these reasons, you should only consider our template if your prof has required a draft from you that he will then modified, or if you want to verify if a letter you have received is up to snuff.

Graduate school letter of recommendation 101

If you’ve chosen to pursue your graduate degree, then you must understand just how significant a part of your application packet the grad school letter of recommendation is. It consists of an impartial assessment written by someone who has had experience working with or teaching or overseeing you in some way and serves as undeniable proof that shows why you’re qualified for admission into graduate school.

The impact of recommendation letters is invaluable for graduate school admissions committees; they lend insight into your talents and capabilities from a respected professional. This opinion can help them decide whether you are well-suited for their program, as well as emphasize how your background and strengths make you an ideal fit to attend their institution.

Submitting glowing recommendation letters from trustworthy sources that affirm the same strengths that can be found in your statement of purpose or essays and illustrate additional abilities you possess that can add to your application.

In addition, if you have any weak areas within your application, a passionate and comprehensive letter of recommendation emphasizing the appropriate attributes for your desired program can sway the admissions committee in your favor. For instance, when seeking to attain admission into graduate school with low GPA scores, obtaining powerful grad school letters of recommendation is one of the most effective approaches that could be used.

Letter of recommendation Template

Dear Admissions Committee,

It is my privilege to recommend **** to your *** program. I am a *** professor at ***, and have had the honor of knowing **** for the last *** years. *** was enrolled in my **** class. Overall, I would rate ***’s performance among the top ***% of students I have had the pleasure of working with in the past.

As a student, *** proved to be a *** student. ***’s enthusiasm for *** was unmistakable. During lectures, she/he/they eagerly engaged with classmates, formulating thought-provoking questions and delivering insightful comments that I found very stimulating.

The paper she wrote for the class was…

Her presentation was…..

Having known ** for three years, I can vouch for his/her/their expertise within the field and unwavering commitment to learning. His/her/their passion and hardworking attitude demonstrate that he/she/they will be an incredible asset to any program.

I highly recommend that you consider her/him/them for your program.

If any doubts arise or if you have any questions about ****’s qualifications, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

3 tips for making sure you DON’T receive a graduate school letter of recommendation template for your application

Contact the right people

To ensure that you receive a glowing recommendation letter, it is essential to be selective when choosing your referees. The right referee goes beyond someone who simply holds a professional title.

Timing and manners are crucial

You must remember that your approach when requesting these sorts of letters will ultimately influence the quality and even whether you get one at all. After all, if someone isn’t motivated enough by your request then they won’t be inclined to put extra effort into writing an exceptional letter on your behalf.

For the best possible letter of recommendation, it’s essential to provide your chosen writers with at least six to eight weeks notice before their deadline. In addition to this timeline, remember that you should also consider individual schedules when making a request. For example, if your application date coincides with midterm week for the professor writing your letter of recommendation, make sure to ask them even earlier so that they have sufficient time and space for creating an outstanding reference.

When you are requesting for a letter of recommendation, remember that it is essentially asking for someone’s professional favor. Therefore, maintain professional courtesy and tact when corresponding with potential reference writers. Even though online emails would suffice in some cases, it’s always best to ask personally if possible as this demonstrates respect towards the person being asked. Regardless of how you’re making your request — be sure to explicitly state what kind of recommendation you need while providing all the necessary details they should include in their letter on your behalf.

Provide your writers with the help they need

To ensure your chosen writers submit a detailed recommendation letter, it is crucial to provide them with comprehensive information. Create an information packet that contains everything they need to know about you, including contact details in case they have any questions or require further clarification. This will help guarantee the strongest possible grad school reference.

To ensure a successful graduate school application, please provide them with the most recent version of your CV, the grade you received for their class, papers you wrote if you did, and any admissions essays required. Additionally, include the list of schools you are interested in attending along with specific information such as accomplishments or experiences that they should emphasize when writing their letter. Lastly, provide formatting guidelines for submission as well as an exact deadline of when the letter must be finished — this will enable them to craft an exceptional recommendation on time.


Writing a letter of recommendation doesn’t need to be daunting. With the right template and approach, you can get down to the business of earning that spot in graduate school you’ve been looking for. Now that you know how and when to use templates, why not take full advantage of them? With the right template to guide your content, you’ll save yourself some time and anxiety, allowing you to focus on honing your copy so it captures exactly what it needs to say about you. For more help with mastering your application process, check out our application services or sign up for a free admissions consultation. Life is too short to procrastinate; go ahead and make a move toward advancing your career!

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

Originally published at on March 16, 2023.



Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: