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Letter of Recommendation for Masters – Sample & Tips to Write

Updated on 08 December, 2023

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

A letter of recommendation (LOR) for a master’s is undoubtedly very essential to study abroad. LORs, SOP, and CV/resume are key documents along with your application and transcripts that help the admissions committee determine your candidature. LORs are references provided by past employers or faculty members that help shed light on the candidate’s traits, previous performance, achievements, and eligibility. Hence, they are vital for an applicant’s profile and add sizable weightage to the application.

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Sample Letter of Recommendation for Masters

Here is a template of the letter of recommendation format for master’s. This sample recommendation letter for graduate students will help you understand the tone that you should follow to write your LOR. 

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Letter of Recommendation Sample – Strong

Dear Admissions Team,

It is my pleasure to write this Letter of Recommendation for XXX. Her relationship with ABC organization dates back 5 years, and I have professionally been associated with her for the past five years. During this time, she/he has worked with us as a Consultant and has supported the organization by leading a gamut of research studies that have informed our program and organizational strategies.

In every assignment, XXX has shown a perfect understanding of the issues that they work on. In fact, they do not follow a linear way of thinking through social issues but instead, follow an intersectional approach. Thus, in my observation, when they work on the issue of Women, Business, and Human Rights: they draw insights from comprehending the issue by looking at it from an objective point of view, such as sexuality, age, gender, caste, class, disability, and religion. As a result, the recommendations put forth emerged from – Queen Mary, University of London Blog. “Trade unions still fail to lure women leaders, study finds.” It helped the organization tweak its curriculum based on the needs of an array of communities that the organization works with. In fact, these recommendations have helped the organization to be conscious of keeping the community and individual at its core while creating strategies in tandem with programs and implementing those in the community.

XXX is driven and keeps marginalized young people at the core of every work

they have engaged with. In this world that is dominated by the narrative created by adults, XXX has helped us bring out the realities of young women and has supported ABC in creating a counter-narrative by bringing out the voices of young women.

During (name of the candidate) 5 years of engagement with ABC, they have supported us by designing a MMM, NNN, and providing M&E support to the KKK program. (Name) also carried out some scoping studies that have informed our program strategies and provided continuous documentation support to the organization.

I have personally found (name) full of zeal and diligence toward the work deliveries. They always deliver quality work and keep up with the timelines set by the organization. They strongly feel about women’s rights and ensure that their voices get captured through her work.

In case, the university wants me to elaborate on any specific information with respect to my engagement with (name), please feel free to get in touch.

Yours Sincerely, 

Recommender’s Full Name 


College, City 

Contact No- 

Email ID-

Note:  This letter is strong for many reasons. It elucidates how and in what capacity the letter writer knows the student. It highlights the specific examples of the student’s performance, including aspects that made him stand out in comparison to other batchmates. It also highlights an estimate of how the student ranks among all students with whom the letter writer has worked over the years. 

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Letter of Recommendation Sample – Weak

LLL Program

Well‐Known University

1234 University Way

Big City, Florida 54321

August 20, 2022

Dear Program Director,

It is my great delight to back the candidature of Kristen Stewart, who was first introduced to me when she came to Max Hospital as a third-year student in 2015.

I found Kristen Stewart to be a conscientious and hard-working individual. She meticulously took care of patients aligned with her and ensured that all the work‐up was done before the morning rounds, where she actively participated. Her responsibilities comprised – writing SOAP notes, garnering lab reports from the previous day, writing transfer and discharge summaries, noon conferences, participating in morning reports, and more. She has impeccable clinical skills and displays them with mature mannerisms. 

Kristen Stewart is humble and gets along well with his peers and the medical team. I recommend her to you for any residency program that she may be seeking. I am sure she will be a valuable asset to your organization. Please feel free to contact me if you need further information. 

Sincerely Yours,

YYY, M.D. 


Note: This letter is weak for a plethora of reasons. It is non-specific and vague, explaining what any medical student would do. There is no specific example of Kristen’s work provided. It reflects that the recommender does not even know about the specialization. Furthermore, the letter clearly does not reflect the applicant’s qualities and is of little value in assessing the application. 

6 Tips For Writing a Stellar Recommendation Letter for Graduate Students

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When it comes to pulling off a successful Letter of Recommendation from a professor for a master's degree, it is essential to note the following points:

1. Get the recommender to talk about diverse accomplishments

If you have to furnish 2 or 3 recommendation letters, you should get recommenders to mention various aspects of your achievements, personality, and academic and extracurricular accomplishments. For example, one letter may emphasize your research skills, while another may focus on your classroom performance. 

2. Provide relevant information to the recommender

Even if the recommender knows you very well, they will likely not have records of all your academic achievements, extracurricular achievements, and test scores. Help them out by providing all relevant information, including your CV, lists of your academic GPAs and achievements, volunteer/extracurricular activities, and the date by which they should submit the letter. 

3. Letters should be example-based

Recommenders must mention instances or anecdotes that help them see certain qualities in you. Simply stating that an applicant has good research attributes will not work unless an example is included in a research project or discussion.

4. LOR should showcase your improvement over time

Admission officers have already witnessed innumerable applications. A letter that is solely praising you will sound unrealistic and unauthentic. It is, hence important that the recommender also talks about how you improved over a period and capitalized on your strengths while taking care of your weaknesses. 

5. Letter should not have an overly dry tone

The recommendation letter is undoubtedly a formal document. It should not be equated with a dry tone while writing. Admissions committees usually appreciate personalized yet formal recommendation letters. Hence, a strong letter will speak about the candidate while avoiding clichés. Moreover, the style and content of every LOR should be different without hindering the format.

6. Plagiarism is a big NO

Remember that the admissions committee will easily detect whether the same individual has written your LOR or whether it has been plagiarized. Hence, you should not blindly copy any content or LOR format and send it to the universities in your applications.

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Structure/ Format of LOR

The content structure and format of your letter of recommendation are indispensable while drafting LOR. It should be phrased in such a way that the intended message is clearly communicated. It should be cohesively drafted and divided into 3–4 paragraphs, each addressing a unique facet backed by logic and rationale. Moreover, LOR should not have generic or overly vague descriptors. 

1. First section

The first section should establish a concrete foundation with regard to the relationship between the candidate and the recommender. It should explain how the recommender knows the candidate and indicate how qualified he is to attest to the candidate’s skills and capabilities.

2. Second section

This portion should focus on your essential qualities and credentials. It should bring across how competent and proficient you are with appropriate examples backing your claims. 

3. Third section

In this part, the recommender can talk about a specific incident or unique experience that features your technical and professional skills and expertise. Here, one can also talk about soft skills if relevant.

4. Fourth section

This section should analytically highlight all the points discussed above. The letter should be concluded with the recommender providing a considerable endorsement to the candidate for them to be accepted into the program they wish to enter.

How to Submit Your Letter of Recommendation?

It should be noted that submitting a Letter of Recommendation largely depends on the university you are applying to study. Most international universities have certain specifications about the mode they want the recommendation letter to be submitted. Let us look at the three common ways you may be required to submit your letter of recommendation:


1. Online Form

This is the simplest mode of submitting a letter of recommendation. What happens here is that the universities essentially provide an online login portal to the candidate’s listed recommenders, where  they are required to answer specific questions about the candidate.

2. Email

Some universities often require recommendation letters to be submitted directly by the recommenders via email. This submission should be made using the recommender’s official email ID. 

3. Post

This remains the most common and popular manner of submission. Here, the student is supposed to collect the letter of recommendation from the recommender in a sealed, signed, and stamped package. The student can then proceed by sending the letter to the respective university and his personal information and details about his application.

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How To Ask For LOR

It is only natural for students to be hesitant about asking for recommendation letters for a student from teachers for master’s programs, mentors, or employers. Thus, irrespective of how nervous you may feel about requesting a recommendation letter, you must remember that it is a normal part of the admissions process. Let us discuss further how you can ask for an LOR:

1. Choosing the right person

Asking for a letter of recommendation from the right person is of significant value in your admission procedure. You should remember a list of people who know you well enough and are eligible to attest to your qualities and character.

2. Providing a resume

If you prepare a resume listing your strong suits and skills, it makes it much simpler for the recommender to write you a stellar recommendation. You can also provide your academic transcripts while highlighting your achievements and qualifications.

3. Asking in-person

It is always best to ask for a recommendation letter. It is much more respectful to ask a recommender in-person before sending them a formal request via email or post. 

4. Formal request

After affirming your acceptance of your request in person, you can send a formal proposal. You can do so by sending out a formal written request via email.

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Difference between LOR, SOP, and Letter of Reference

Let us first look at what an LOR is:

LOR is an abbreviation of “Letter of Recommendation”. It is essentially a piece of attested document that is provided by an authorized person describing the potential and capabilities of a student or aspiring candidate who wishes to join a particular university for higher education. This document notifies the admissions department of that university with regard to the candidate’s achievements, prospects, skills, and qualities. A letter of recommendation from an accredited person plays an important role in the admissions process of students, especially in international universities.

Now, let us talk about SOPs:

SOP is an abbreviated form of “Statement of Purpose.” It is one of the most important documents supporting a student’s admission procedure to international universities. Typically, it is a document that holds a biographical essay that is to be written by the candidate about himself. The candidate is expected to describe their principles, goals, and ambitions in this essay. They can discuss their long-term plans and the passions and dreams they wish to work towards. This statement of purpose helps the admissions staff get an idea about your overall personality and nature. 

Now, a letter of recommendation(LOR) and a letter of reference are terms that are often used interchangeably by people. However, they differ in some key aspects, which we will discuss. As discussed above, a letter of recommendation is an officially attested document that supports a candidate’s admission application to an international university. It can also be a supportive document for job opportunities or other professional programs. A Letter of Reference is basically a generic affirmation or approbation of the candidate’s personality and character. A Letter of Recommendation is usually sent directly to the concerned university, while a Letter of Reference is handed over to the concerned student. Finally, a Letter of Recommendation must be written by a certified person who is qualified to comment on your academic and professional skills. In contrast, a letter of reference can be written by friends or colleagues who can attest to your character and capabilities.

Who Should You Ask For A Letter of Recommendation For Your Master’s Application?

Suppose you are a student aspiring to pursue a master’s program at an international university. In that case, it is important that you understand that most universities care a great deal about your past experiences, personal character, skills, and qualities in addition to your grades. This is where a letter of recommendation comes in handy. 

Now, whom you should ask for a letter of recommendation for your master’s program; it depends largely on the university and the program you are planning to pursue. Some universities explicitly require letters of recommendation from Professors, professional mentors, and past employers. If you are asked to provide a recommendation letter from a professor, this letter should fixate on your academic skills and accomplishments. Now, if you are expected to provide a letter from a past employer, this document should focus on the specific skills pertinent to your respective Master’s program. Asking the right person for a letter of recommendation is a significant part of applying for a Master’s program.

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Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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