The Importance of a Good PhD Letter of Recommendation
Having a professionally written PhD letter of recommendation is an integral part of any application package. As an applicant can’t be there in person, such as a formal interview, a committee only has the applicant’s documents to judge them by. Thus having your PhD letter of recommendation completed in a professional way to highlight your academic skills and personal qualities can go a long way to making you stand out from the rest. But it could look like a high school letter of recommendation.
A strongly supportive letter of recommendation for PhD can make all the difference in defining an applicant’s suitability for their particular doctorate by using the writer’s knowledge and involvement with them over the years and in then putting that information to a document for a committee to use while comparing with other applicants. Even with outstanding grades, students will find that without having all their PhD letters of recommendation in order, will lead to disappointment.
How It Should Look
The PhD letter of recommendation should be a standard formal letter with your contact details and the date at the top of the letter. Use a professional looking font, and the font size should be 11 or 12 point. You should address the recommendation letter directly to the person responsible for the application if known or to the head of the committee. Try not to write an excessively long letter of recommendation for PhD; two pages should be sufficient, as the applicant will also have completed an application form, personal statements and resume.
Contents of a Letter of Recommendation – PhD
- How you’re acquainted with the student, describe your role in their education. How long they have been your student
- Provide specific information about the student, their attitude towards learning, commitment, professionalism and leadership skills. Highlight their motivation.
- Refrain from using simple summaries or using unsupported praise. Also stay away from writing about any work or accomplishments that are in the past, try and keep your attention to highlighting material from as current a time frame as possible.
- A PhD letter of recommendation should not contain anything that has only faint praises or implies any criticisms. Just saying that a student did as expected would lead a committee to think the student in indistinguishable from the next student. Don’t overly use superlatives and stay away from using cliches.
- Compare the student to others you have known in a similar way. Use of ranking systems is a good way to do this; “Andrew is in the top xx% of all students I have taught over the past xx years,” will really help an admissions committee put your recommendation into a broader context.
- Give your personal opinion as to why you believe the applicant is suitable for the position and what they can offer the school.
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