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Tips to write a recommendation letter

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How to write a recommendation letter

Recommendation letters, also commonly known as reference letters, form an integral part of the application process when applying to universities. It is a solid tool for the university to assess an applicant's strengths, weakness and potential for further study; outside the scope of the academic marksheets and transcripts submitted. In other words, it opens up a window for the university into applicants traits and personality.

Almost every major university across the globe requires recommendation letters from the prospective applicants as a mandatory component of the application documents. A minimum of three recommendations are required for most colleges. However, some universities may need only two.

  • For students applying for the Bachelor's program, two recommendations from teachers are required and the third one is required from the Principal or School Counsellor. 
  • Applicants without work experience, applying to MS/PhD degree require three recommendations from their respective professors or faculty members. 
  • Applicants applying to MS/PhD with 1 or more years of professional experience are strongly recommended to provide at least one recommendation letter from the employer. 
  • Applicants applying to the MBA programs are required to submit professional recommendations from the current and past employers.

Please refer to the table to decide whose recommendation you need to opt for.


Teacher 1

Teacher 2

Teacher 3Employer 1Employer 2Employer 3
Bachelors DegreeYesYesYes   
Masters Degree (Without Work Experience)YesYesYes   
Masters Degree (with work experience)YesYes Yes  
Ph.D (With Research or Work Experience)YesYes Yes  
MBA (Top Programs)YesYes YesYesYes
MBAYesYes Yes  

A mistake most applicants do is opting for the recommendation from professors or senior professionals who may not have taught or worked with them, but have impressive degrees or designations. This is because most applicants believe that the university officials will be more impressed if their recommender has an accomplished background and qualifications. However, this is just a myth!!!

Universities want recommendations from faculty who have actually taught the applicant or from a professionals who have mentored the applicants or have worked closely with the candidate and can provide a detailed and honest insight about the candidate. ALWAYS opt for teachers who have taught you and who would be happy to provide glowing recommendations. Working professionals should ALWAYS opt for recommendations from people who have closely monitored your work and performance in the company.

The author of this article, Binita Parekh, leads a team of dedicated and highly qualified counsellors and staff at Beyond Boundaries Education Consulting Services which offers advice and guidance to students for successful applications to prestigious academic institutions, enabling them to achieve and bring their dreams to fruition.

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