Thanks to our Director of Student Recruitment, Devon Reber Drehmer, for this post! 

One of the most common topics applicants ask me about are the letters of recommendation.  These letters are an important part of your application and provide the committee with helpful information and insight into your ability to be successful at Harris Public Policy. I hope these answers to common questions will be helpful to you as you are completing your application!

 

How many letters are required?

Three letters of recommendation are required.  These may be from academic or professional recommenders.

Whom should I ask?

Applicants typically ask their undergraduate faculty members and advisors, academic mentors, professional supervisors and colleagues.  Supervisors and advisors from internships, volunteer and co-curricular activities are also great options.  The committee prefers to read a letter from someone who knows you better rather than someone with a more prestigious title – for example, the committee would prefer a letter from your academic advisor who knows you well rather than the department chair who you met with once.

Academic or professional?

It’s up to you!  You can decide which combination of academic and professional letters is best for your application.  Think about what you are trying to communicate in your application and how your letters of recommendation can help you.  For example, if you have limited work experience, a strong letter from an internship supervisor can help the committee learn about your professionalism.  

What makes a great letter?

The best letters of recommendation give the committee a new perspective on you, your interest in policy, and your ability to be successful at Harris and in your career.  They provide specific examples that illustrate your perseverance, academic ability, and professionalism.

How long should the letters be? Is there a word limit?

Typically letters of recommendation are 1-2 pages.  There is no word limit.

What will my recommender receive?

Once you complete the application information for your recommenders, each recommender will be sent a link via email to upload the letter to your application. You will not need to send them the link yourself. If your recommender is having trouble locating the link to upload their letter, please have them contact us directly at [email protected]

Final words of advice

Always ask your recommender before entering their information and sending them the link.

Give your recommender time – at least a few weeks before the deadline.  If you are planning to apply for the Early Action Deadline on October 1, 2019 get ready to ask your recommenders by early September. Be sure to send them our deadline information. 

Send your recommenders a thank you note and keep them updated about your graduate school process.