When searching for study abroad programs and application processes, you must have encountered the word ‘LOR’ multiple times!
Ever wondered what is it and what’s its importance? The article will give you an understanding on a Letter of Recommendation, or a LOR, who it is for, and how to write one. Going through the below-given LOR samples will help you better understand the document’s structure, format, flow, and content.
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A LOR is written to validate and appreciate a candidate’s skills, work, and other professional virtues relevant to their field. It is addressed to an admissions officer at an educational institution or the prospective employer who wants to know about your personal experiences with the person recommending you for admission or employment. It describes the candidate’s academic or professional achievements and work ethic and is generally written by a former employer, colleague, teacher, professor, or client. The qualities and strengths that make the candidate a good fit are discussed in this letter.
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Table of Contents
- Who Needs LOR and Why Do They Need It?
- Types of LORs
- What to Include in a LOR?
- Basic Format of an LOR
- LOR Guidelines for the Recommendor
- LOR Samples for Students
- Mistakes to Avoid in a LOR
- Tips for Writing a Good LOR
- 1. Write a LOR if you have a personal experience/ connection with the candidate
- 2. Your LOR should reflect only the important achievements
- 3. Use examples/ statistics
- 4. Follow the formatting guidelines
- 5. Include language from the provided description
- 6. Always proofread your LOR
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- Frequently Asked Questions
Who Needs LOR and Why Do They Need It?
An applicant planning to study at a foreign university will require a LOR irrespective of the course, institution, or country. For high school graduates, LORs can be obtained from the teachers, school counselors, or the principal, along with the heads of organizations the students have volunteered for or been a part of for their extracurricular activities.
For students wishing to pursue MS, the letters are issued by college professors, internship supervisors, or managers from their last place of employment. You will find the general structure and tone of these from the LOR samples for MS included in this article.
As for the question of “Why do they need it?”, the answer is simple, Western universities prefer students with holistic qualities along with their exam scores. These qualities are not easily noticeable in the academic transcripts and admission forms. So, to be able to choose candidates who can contribute positively to the community, it is essential to understand the impressions they have left on their former teachers, employers, or head of institutes. Additionally, it helps universities pick aspirants from the thousands who apply each year.
Types of LORs
The LORs are broadly classified into two categories based on the nature of the person recommending them:
1. Academic Letter of Recommendation
A teacher or professor from the last institute attended by the student provides this letter. It highlights their academic performance and achievements. Universities usually require applicants to produce two to three such letters.
Skills to be highlighted:
- Academic performance
- Teamwork skills
- Leadership ability
- Awards and recognition
- Analytical research skills
2. Professional Letter of Recommendation
Most MBA colleges abroad request a professional Letter of Recommendation based on their work experience. The applicant’s immediate supervisor is generally the one to write this letter. Unlike an academic Letter of Recommendation, it focuses on the candidate’s adaptability in team projects, leadership, problem-solving skills, and expertise in the specific domain.
Skills to be highlighted:
- Summary of job responsibilities
- Decision-making skills
- Time management and multitasking
- Management abilities and strengths
- Ability to come up with creative and innovative ideas
- Ability to overcome challenges
- Teamwork skills
- Leadership ability
- Qualities of integrity and reliability
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What to Include in a LOR?
An important aspect to focus on for an effective LOR is its content. While writing a letter of recommendation, the recommender should ideally include the following:
- Own introduction
- Relationship/Interactions with the candidate
- An overview of their performance & general attributes
- Soft skills of the candidate
- A personal story relevant to the professional relationship and the program applied for
- A closing statement offering insight into the recommendation
Basic Format of an LOR
A LOR is written in multiple paragraphs that discuss the student’s qualifications, skills, strengths, and weaknesses. A standard LOR is broken into three sections and can be divided into five paragraphs. We have listed the break-up of the LOR format for students below:
1. Paragraph one: Introduction
2. Paragraph Two – Four: Information about the applicant’s qualities and skills
3. Paragraph Five: Conclusion
LOR Guidelines for the Recommendor
A letter of recommendation should provide the admission committee with a detailed overview about the applicant. Many letters of recommendation samples are available online,but they might not stick to the guidelines followed to make the LOR concise and attractive.
- Make sure there are no sentence structuring and grammatical errors.
- Do not exaggerate the candidate’s strengths; furnish relevant and candid details proving their suitability for the program.
- Avoid mentioning marks scored in any competitive test as it is already mentioned in the application.
- Try to keep the LOR within one page from 500-600 words.
- If writing 3-4 LORs for a student, ensure each is written differently. Also, maintain the same font size and style for each LOR.
- Avoid adding sensitive or private information about the candidate unless it is relevant.
- Highlight what positive changes the candidate can bring and make unique contributions to the institution.
- Make sure that the LOR is sent to the college/university/organization before the cut-off time.
- A LOR should not be handwritten, and should adhere to the following points:
– Use A4 Page Size
– Font size should be kept 11 or 12
– Black font color should be used
– It is generally Left Aligned like any letter
– One inch margin is maintained on the page
LOR Samples for Students
Here is a compilation of LOR samples for undergraduate students and a few LOR templates for a master’s degree.
LOR Sample for UG Admissions
This is generally written by high school teachers, principals, and heads of organizations where the student has volunteered or been a part of. Here are a few samples:
This is a sample of a LOR written by the Head of the School.
As the Headmistress of the Senior Secondary Section, School, City, I have known (name of the student) to be one of the brightest students in academics and extracurricular activities. (Student Name) first gained admission to our school in 2007 and has left a positive impression on all the faculty members and me. I have also had the opportunity to teach them Physics in his twelfth standard. Based on my observation in class and interaction with them, I can classify themas one of the most diligent and sincere students I have had the opportunity to teach. They have consistently performed to the best of their ability and shown exceptional merit in all subjects throughout their tenure.
(Student Name) exudes self-confidence and has constantly demonstrated a strong sense of dedication towards their studies. They have always participated actively in classroom discussions and have engaged in brainstorming sessions at our school. (Student Name)’s belief that ideas sprout from brainstorming has led them to initiate such debates and conferences, thus creating a vibrant learning environment for the entire class. They, along with their five-member team, even set up an innovative platform where students can post and share academic problems and solutions. This platform led to an increase in the direct interaction between the teachers and students and inculcated a healthier learning environment at school.
Besides excelling at academics, (Student Name) garners immense interest in sports, especially basketball, and has captained the school team at various inter-school events and competitions. Their leadership skills and dedication to their team have earned the school many accolades over the years. And we are immensely proud to call them our own.
To conclude, I would like to emphasize (Student Name)’s penchant for achieving excellence in everything they undertake, and I sincerely believe that they are one of the ideal candidates for pursuing a course of their choice at your esteemed university. Here, I extend my wholehearted recommendation for his/her candidature for admission into the undergraduate program. I am available to answer any further queries that you might have.
I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Contact and Email Id.
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LOR Samples for MS Students
This is generally written by college professors, internship supervisors, or immediate superiors at the workplace.
The following sample is a LOR for a student applying for MS by a college professor.
It gives me immense pleasure to write this reference letter in favor of (Candidate Name), who is aspiring to pursue the Master in Science program at your university. I have known (Candidate Name) as his professor for over three years now. I taught him the courses of ‘Module Name’, ‘Module Name,’ ‘Module Name,’ and ‘Module Name’, in the second, third, fourth, and sixth semesters, respectively.
Based on my observations, I would like to highlight that (Candidate Name) is a sincere student, who dedicates total attention to academics and strives to improve wherever necessary. Their positive attitude towards learning and curiosity for the new puts them ahead of their peers.
Throughout their tenure at this institute, (Candidate Name) has shown a keen interest in learning from practical projects and techniques. They have engaged in intense research-related discussions and debates and have chosen significantly complex topics for their specialization papers. Through these processes, they have gained valuable knowledge that they will be able to implement in their career ahead.
Alongside his academic performance, (Candidate Name) has portrayed great enthusiasm in inter-college competitions and tournaments, and has never missed a chance to win the institute its glory. They have invariably been an active member of academic clubs and associations and worked rigorously to implement changes that have aided not only fellow students but also the institution in general.
I can assure you that (Candidate Name) will continue their efforts in being a valuable part of the student body at your esteemed university and simultaneously shine as an individual.
I would like to express my deepest personal and professional admiration for them and truly believe that (Candidate Name) will add a lot of value to their environment through their vibrant energy, hard working attitude, and passion. Thus, I extend my endorsement for their admission into the program they choose to pursue at your university. I am happy to answer any questions which might help you in making a decision.
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LOR Samples for MS in CS
Although the basic tone and structure of the LOR samples for MS in CS remain the same as the one drafted above, a few specific details may have more impact when writing about a candidate pursuing a Computer Science Specialization. It is advised to highlight the following technical skills:
1.The programming languages known by the candidate
2.Occasions where the candidates displayed coding skills
3.Particular projects the candidate worked on
4.In-depth knowledge of apps
5.Apps or platforms created/developed
LOR Sample for MS in Mechanical Engineering
Similar to key areas highlighted in the LOR for MS in CS, the following qualities may be included in the LOR for a student wishing to pursue MS in Mechanical Engineering:
1. Knowledge of a range of professional tools
2. Teamwork and adaptability
3. Design knowledge
4. Expertise in analytical concepts
5. Technical know-how
6. Problem-solving skills, etc.
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LOR Sample for MS in Civil Engineering
Now, for a student who desires to opt for MS in Civil Engineering, the LOR should ideally throw light on qualities such as:
1. Critical Thinking and curiosity
2. A flair for innovation and creativity
3. Understanding of design and materials
4. Ability to manage projects
5. Possessing an eye for detail
6. Problem-solving skills
LOR Sample for MS in Electrical Engineering
The LOR for students aspiring to take up MS in Electrical Engineering must accentuate attributes such as:
1. An in-depth idea of circuit design and schematics
2. Knowledge of various software and applications
3. Analytical and logical reasoning
4. Organization skills
5. Complex problem-solving skills
LOR Sample for MS in Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE)
One can highlight the following points when drafting the LOR for a student who wants to pursue an MS in Electronics and Communication Engineering:
2.Awareness of the recent trends
3.In-depth knowledge and interest in technology
4.IT and communication skills
LOR Sample for an MBA degree
While writing a LOR for a student applying for an MBA at a university abroad, the following attributes are significant:
1.The student’s academic credentials
2.Applicant’s purpose or end goals for applying for MBA
3.Accentuate relevant experience gathered by the candidate that proves his critical thinking, analytical, leadership, and communication skills.
4.How his previous academic experience makes him eligible for an MBA program.
Most universities offering MS courses require applicants to have some working experience before they pursue their master’s programs. The letter of recommendation for MS from employers must speak of the candidate’s adaptability in a challenging work environment, efficiency in solving problems, competence to deliver on time, and willingness to work as a part of a team. Mentioning a positive attitude, good communication skills, and a charming personality also helps elevate the candidate’s chances of being considered.
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Mistakes to Avoid in a LOR
A Letter of Recommendation can make or break a student’s chance of studying abroad. So if you have been requested to write one such document, it is your responsibility to do so with utmost care and honesty.
Please avoid the following commonly made mistakes:
1. Being unoriginal
The most common trap to fall into is plagiarism and copy-pasting one LOR for multiple institutions or candidates.
2. Using politically incorrect statements
It is important to be considerate of sensitive topics and steer clear of issues that might instigate negative reactions.
3. An informal tone
You must remember that the letter is entirely professional. Even though you have to express personal relationships and anecdotes with the candidate, maintaining decorum in language and structure is highly advised.
4. Lack of relevant information and facts
Do not forget to keep your letter to the point, mentioning the candidate’s attributes that matter in the admissions procedure for a specific course.
In conclusion, a lot of a candidate’s prospects at an educational institute depend on a well-written LOR. Besides the academic performance and a Statement of Purpose, universities abroad put a lot of emphasis on the Letter of Recommendation by professionals who have been an integral part of the candidate’s tenure at school/college. Hence, it should be written with honesty, care, and attention. Studying abroad can open up a world of opportunities for a candidate, and an impressive set of LORs helps them achieve their goals. You can head to upGrad Abroad to learn about the wonderful opportunities that come with higher education from top universities in countries like the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.
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Tips for Writing a Good LOR
1. Write a LOR if you have a personal experience/ connection with the candidate
The foremost important thing to follow is to take up the task if you have good knowledge about the candidate or have a personal connection with them. Your LOR should clearly and strongly state your relationship with them and why they are recommended.
2. Your LOR should reflect only the important achievements
Remember, a LOR is not your resume. Only significant skills & qualifications that are relevant to the university program one is applying for must be talked about in the LOR.
3. Use examples/ statistics
The focus should be not just on telling the candidate’s achievements and proficiencies, but also on showcasing them through anecdotes and examples. Providing evidence for what you are trying to show will add more value in front of the admission officers reviewing your LOR. Quantify their strengths and achievements; for instance, you can say the candidate is among the top 5% of students you have ever taught.
4. Follow the formatting guidelines
Keep your LOR within one page. Use a black font of size 11-12. Try to keep the letter in an active voice. Also, look if there are any specific requirements from the university/ employer.
5. Include language from the provided description
Using language similar to the one posted in the admission description will help to highlight points important for the university. It will help to tailor the content of your letter and make it more specific.
6. Always proofread your LOR
A crucial tip for writing an effective LOR is always proofreading the letter. Ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.
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In conclusion, a lot of a candidate’s prospects at an educational institute depend on a well-written LOR. Besides the academic performance and a Statement of Purpose, universities abroad put a lot of emphasis on the Letter of Recommendation by professionals who have been an integral part of the candidate’s tenure at school/college. Hence, it should be written with honesty, care, and attention. Studying abroad can open up a world of opportunities for a candidate, and an impressive set of LORs helps them achieve their goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a fellow student or colleague write a LOR for me?
No, a Letter of Recommendation must exclusively come from a qualified person. The designation of the person recommending the candidate is scrutinized by universities, and having it written by anyone else may jeopardize the admission process.
What kind of information does the recommender need from the candidate for the LOR?
A recommender will be required to gather all relevant information about the candidate before they can start writing a LOR. Here are some of the key facts to keep handy:
1) Personal details and contact information of the candidate
2) Details of the university and course being chosen
3) Name, title, organization of the person being addressed in the letter
4) Goals, aspirations, and future plans
5) A draft of the Statement of Purpose and other relevant documents.
6) A reminder of the interactions between the recommender and the candidate.
7) A tentative date for submission
How are LOR and SOP different?
While a LOR is a 500-600 word letter written by a referee, SOP contains 800-1000 words and is written by the applicant itself. A lot of universities ask for an SOP to understand the individual and they have to talk about their short-term and long-term goals, their passion, and how the university can help them in achieving them. Whereas a LOR requires the furnishing of more technical skills possessed by the candidate which makes them a perfect fit for the position they are seeking
What is the ideal word count of a LOR?
The requirements for word count for a LOR differ from one university to another. While some demand a 300-400 word LOR, some institutions accept up to 600 words LOR. Ideally, it is better not to exceed more than a page for the LOR which can be kept around 500 words.
How does a LOR vary across countries?
The requirements for a LOR vary across various universities and countries and students should verify every information before submitting it. They vary as per the requirements in terms of the number of LORs that need to be submitted, types, letter of recommendation template, and the submission guidelines.
Is there any expiry of letter of recommendation?
Unless there are any specific instructions on the description of the program or position, an LOR is valid for a duration of 12 months. Though there is no expiry of an LOR, a lot of employers do not prefer letters more than 18 months old.
How to write LOR for MS?
You can refer to any letter of recommendation sample for MS before drafting it. It should include anecdotes of the things you did instead of just listing your skills. Instead of simply saying that you have good research skills, it should highlight the research skills you have worked on. However, while writing a letter of recommendation for MS with work experience, your senior can talk about your work ethics, leadership and teamwork skills, and how you overcame obstacles at your workplace.
How to write a letter of recommendation for a student?
To write a letter of recommendation for a student, start with a personalized introduction where you talk about the student’s educational background. Then the recommender explains their relationship with the student. Lastly, end your letter of recommendation on a positive note and keep the sentences concise.