Prabu Rajasekaran

Updated on 12-04-2023


Letter of Recommendation (LOR) for Masters Programs

Letter of Recommendation (LOR) for Masters Programs

A letter of recommendation for master’s is an important tool when applying for graduate school. It is a way to show admissions officers how well prepared you are for graduate study.

In this article, we’ll discuss the

  • Importance of letters of recommendation for master’s programs,
  • Accepted formats (with samples),
  • Difference between Letter of Recommendation, SOP and letter of reference.
  • Requesting letter of recommendation
    Tips to make your LOR stand out

What is a Letter of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a written document that describes your academic performance and accomplishments. It is usually provided by someone who knows you well, such as a professor or mentor. Letters of recommendation are used by colleges and universities to evaluate applicants.
The most common type of letters of recommendation are those submitted by professors. These are called “academic” recommendations, shortly called academic LOR. Academic recommendations are often required by schools for admission.
Other types of letters include professional recommendations received from employers, former teachers, etc. (known as professional LOR). 
These letters are often used to help colleges determine whether you would be a good fit for their school and that you’re a hard worker and committed to achieving success.
In addition, these letters can also help you demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively.
Recommendation letters can make or break your application. A strong recommendation letter highlights your strengths and gives a better idea of your capabilities to the admissions committee as compared to your resume. Universities in Canada are having Letter of recommendation as one of the required prerequisites for the admission process. 

Why do you need a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) for Master’s Programs?

The letter of recommendation is a powerful tool that helps you get accepted into a master’s program. But it’s not just for getting accepted. Your LORs are important throughout your entire graduate career. They help you land internships, jobs, scholarships, fellowships, and grants.
Your LORs are especially useful when applying for prestigious programs at top universities. These schools often require letters of recommendation from professors who teach courses similar to those you’re taking. This makes sense because they already know you well and can attest to your academic ability.
But don’t limit yourself to these elite institutions. Even if you will not apply to a specific school, write a LOR for every graduate program you apply to. In fact, write an LOR for each graduate program you apply to, regardless of whether you ultimately accept admission.
This way, you’ll have multiple LORs to use during your graduate career. And since writing a LOR takes only a couple of hours, you won’t be wasting valuable time and money.
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Who Should You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation for Master’s Application?

For master’s programs, a letter of recommendation from a professor is always welcome. However, a letter from a supervisor from either an internship or a previous job is also acceptable. Students who have worked in a professional setting, either paid or unpaid, should provide a letter from their supervisor. Students who have been unemployed, volunteered in a professional setting, or studied abroad should provide a letter from someone they have known for at least a year, preferably a professor or supervisor. If a student has no previous work experience or academic background, then a letter from their academic advisor is acceptable.
You could present:

  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from professors
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from class faculties
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from college counsellors
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from principal
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from teacher like math teacher, physics teacher, english teacher and more
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from HOD
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from internship supervisors
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from company
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from team lead / manager
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from the manager you report to
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from employer
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from your advisor or mentor
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from the department chairperson
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from your thesis committee members
  • Letter of recommendation for master’s from the Dean of students

Any people mentioned above can write you a letter of recommendation, but there are some people you should avoid asking. These are the people who will have less knowledge of your skills and achievements and who have less incentive to put their reputation on the line and recommend you. The people you should not ask are employers who are not experts in your field of study, people who have not worked with you directly and perhaps have not even taught you. You must not request someone who might give you a favourable recommendation. If you’re not currently enrolled in college, you cannot ask your past professors.

Important points to include in the Letter of Recommendation for Master’s

In general, an academic letter of recommendation should describe your academic achievements, skills, personality traits, and any extracurricular activities.
It should also provide information about your character and motivation. For example, it may discuss your leadership abilities, your ability to work independently, your commitment to your studies, and your willingness to help others.

LOR writing tips 

lor writing tips 

The letter of recommendation (LoR) is a critical component of your application package for graduate school. Your letter should demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely, and it should highlight your strengths and accomplishments.
Your letter must be written in a way that demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively. This means avoiding plagiarism, making sure your content and style are consistent throughout your letter, and being careful not to use too many words. 

To help ensure that your letter stands out among others, consider these tips:

1. Avoid Plagiarism

 Plagiarism is when you copy another writer’s work and pass it off as your own. While this may seem harmless at first, it can cause problems later on.

 If you’re applying to multiple schools, don’t worry about copying the same information across letters. However, if you’re applying to only one school, make sure you include unique information and avoid copying the same information across your letters.

2. Be Consistent with Style and Content

 When writing your letter, keep in mind that it’s important to be consistent with your style and content. You want to show that you know what you’re talking about, and you want to avoid any confusion.

3. Choose Right Persons

 You’ll need to choose people who are familiar with your academic background and career goals. Make sure they understand what you’re looking for in a letter of recommendation.

4. Avoid Dry Tone

 Avoid using overly formal language or dry humor in your letter. Instead, focus on demonstrating your skills and abilities.

5. Use Appropriate Formatting

 Make sure your letter includes appropriate formatting. Include headings, bullet points, and numbered lists. Also, make sure your font size is large enough to easily read. It’s best to have the letter in the recommenders’ official letterheads.

6. Don’t Forget About Grammar and Spelling

 Finally, proofread your letter carefully. Check for spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and other issues.

7. Be specific.

 Use concrete details instead of generalities.

8. Share career goals and plans.

 Keep your recommender informed about your career goals and plans. Let them know what you hope to accomplish in the next year.

9. Keep it positive.

 Avoid negative comments about yourself or others.

10. Write in third person.

 Even though you’re talking about yourself, you should still use third person pronouns.

11. Include contact information.

 Your recommender should be able to reach out to you at any point during the process.

12. Ask for feedback.

Ask your recommender if there are any other ways to improve your application.

13. Send it early.

Graduate schools ‌receive hundreds of applications each year. They rarely respond until after the deadline.

14. Follow up.

After sending your LOR, send a thank you email to your recommender.

Letter of Recommendation Format for the Master’s Program

The graduate school admissions process can intimidate, and for most students, it’s the first time they will write a formal letter of recommendation. Fortunately, most graduate programs provide a list of specific items they expect you to include in your letters of recommendation. They use the following structure, but be sure to check with your program’s recommendations:

The first section - Introduction

Start with a brief introduction. This should be no longer than two paragraphs.

The second section - Achievements

Focus on your accomplishments. Don’t write about your personality or interests. Instead, talk about your achievements.

The third section - Skills

Include examples of your work. Showcase your skills and experience.

The fourth section: Conclusion

Summarise your experiences. Make sure they apply to the program you’re trying to get into.

Sample letter of recommendation for the master’s program

As a student applying for admission to a graduate school, you want to show an aptitude for graduate-level study. So, how do you write an impressive letter of recommendation that covers all the bases so that admissions officers see potential in you?
Here are a couple of samples for your review:

Sample Letter of Recommendation for Master’s Program from Professor

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing to recommend Mr. Jones for admission to the Master of Science program in Computer Science at University X. He is an outstanding student who has shown his ability to complete challenging assignments and projects independently. His academic record shows that he has been able to successfully manage time and resources to meet deadlines while maintaining excellent grades.
Mr. Jones has also shown leadership skills by organizing and leading a team of students to develop a web application. This project involved working closely with faculty members and fellow students to design, implement, test, debug, and deploy a web-based system. Besides completing the project, Mr. Jones also presented the results at our departmental seminar.
His strong interest in computer science is reflected in his participation in various clubs and organizations, including the ACM, IEEE, and CSE. He has also volunteered to teach introductory programming classes to middle school students.
In summary, Mr. Jones would make an ideal candidate for the Master of Science degree in Computer Science at University Y.
Name, Professor
[College name]

Sample Letter of Recommendation for Master’s Program from Employer

Dear Ms. Smith,
I am writing to recommend Mr. Jones as an outstanding candidate for admission to the Master’s program in Business Administration at the University of California San Diego.
Mr. Jones is currently employed as a Senior Accountant at XYZ Company where he has been working since January 2012. He has demonstrated his ability to perform well under pressure, manage multiple projects simultaneously, and deliver quality results. In addition, he has shown strong leadership skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work effectively within a team environment.
Mr. Jones has also received many awards for his achievements, including:

  • Best Sales Team Member Award (2012)
  • Top 10% Sales Team Member Award (2013)
  • Most Valuable Employee (2014)
  • Outstanding Performance Award (2015)
  • Highest Customer Satisfaction Rating (2016)
  • Overall Excellence Award (2017)

Mr. Jones would make an excellent addition to our team, and I look forward to seeing him succeed in his studies.
John Doe

Tips for writing the best letter of recommendation for Indian students

tips for writing the best letter of recommendation for indian students

For Professors

1. Start with the introduction

 In the beginning of the letter, the professor should mention the name of the student and the subject of the course. He/She should also state whether the student passed or failed the course. If the student passed the course, the professor should give details regarding the grades got by the student.

2. Describe the student’s strengths

 After mentioning the name of the student, the professor should briefly describe the student’ s strengths. This helps the reader to understand the student’s potential and how well suited he/she is for the course.

3. Explain the student’s weaknesses.

 Next, the professor should explain the student’s weakness. This helps the reader know what areas the student needs to improve upon.

4. Give examples of the student’s positive qualities.

 Finally, the professor should provide examples of the student‘s positive qualities. These examples help the reader understand the person the student is.

For employers

1. Write the letter yourself. If you delegate the task to someone else, make sure that person knows what you want.

2. Don’t give generic recommendations. Instead, focus on the qualities that make your candidate stand out among others.

3. Make sure your letter reflects your knowledge of the candidate. Include details about his/her strengths and weaknesses.

4. Be honest and realistic in your assessment. Avoid giving false impressions.

5. Use language that shows that you know the individual well. Remember that the purpose of a reference letter is not just to recommend the applicant, but also to provide information about him or her.

6. Don‘t exaggerate. You wouldn’t lie about the quality of the service you provided; don’t lie about your impression of the candidate either.

7. Keep it short and sweet. Only three paragraphs.

8. Proofread it carefully before sending it.

9. Send it promptly. You don’t want to wait too long because the reference might change.

Difference between LOR, SOP, and Letter of Reference.

The terms LOR, SOP, and Letter of Reference can be often confusing. They are used for different purposes, by different people and have different formats.

  • A letter of reference is a document that provides information about an individual’s qualifications, experience, skills, and abilities. This document is used when applying for jobs, promotions, and academic scholarships.
  • A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a document that provides recommendations for someone’s character, personality, and ability to perform a job. These documents are typically written by supervisors, colleagues, friends, and family members.
  • A statement of purpose is a document written by yourself. It describes why you want to attend school/college, why you want to pursue a career in a particular field, why you want to join a company, etc. Each country has its own SOP format, like SOP for Canada requires its SOP to be in two pages long with 1000-1500 words. 

Ways to Submit your Letter of Recommendation 

ways to submit your letter of recommendation 

There are three common ways to send your letters of recommendation:

1. Submit it via the school’s online portal: Most schools allow students to upload their letters of recommendation through their website or the recommenders will be provided with a login using which they can directly submit the LOR.

2. Email it directly to the admissions office: The recommender should send the LOR from their official mail ID to the email address of the school’s admissions office.

3. Send it through postal mail: If the recommender wants to send the LOR through post, then he/she needs to print out the form and fill it up with all relevant details and send it through post

How to ask for a Letter of Recommendation for Master’s Program?

The most important step is choosing the right person to write your LOR. This is where you need to do your homework. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who would be best suited to write my LOR?
  • What kind of experience do they have writing LORs?
  • How long have they been working in the field?
  • Do they have any special skills that could help me?
  • Is there anyone else I can ask?

Once you’ve chosen the right person, make sure you prepare your resume or brag sheets. Make sure you include all relevant information, such as grades, awards, extracurricular activities, etc.
Now that you have prepared your resume, it’s time to write a formal request and personalize it. Tell them why you want them to write the letter. Also, make sure that you mention the name of the school where you plan to apply.
Make sure you follow up after sending each letter. Follow up emails should be sent within 2 weeks of receiving the LOR. If you don’t hear from the writer within two weeks, contact them again.
Finally, when you receive the LOR, make sure you thank the writer for taking the time to write your LOR and let them know how much it means to you.

FAQs for Letter of Recommendation for Master’s

Are there instances when you do NOT need a letter of recommendation? 

Sometimes writing a letter of recommendation is not appropriate. For example, if you are applying for a PhD program, you do not need a letter of recommendation from your undergraduate advisor. In addition, if you are applying for a job, you do not need recommendations from your previous employers.

Can a friend write a letter of recommendation?

Someone who has worked with you closely in an academic or professional setting can be requested to write a letter of recommendation. A friend, however, may not know enough about your work history or other qualities to provide a good evaluation.

How long should a grad school letter of recommendation be?

The preferred length of the LOR is one page; however, if the recommender wants to add more details to support your application, they can do so by extending to one more page.

What format should my letter of recommendation be submitted in?

It’s best if you submit the letter of recommendation in the same format as your other documents. If you ‌submit the letter in a different format, the admissions committee may not read it. The most widely accepted file format is PDF.

How many letters of recommendation are required for a master's program in universities?

Usually, each university you apply for will ask for two to three letters of recommendation. However, some programs require only one letter of recommendation. Please check with the university about the specific LOR they’re looking for. Often, they mention the specifics in instructions related to your application documents.

How many times should I send out a letter of recommendation? Should I keep sending them after the deadline passes?

You should send out the letter of recommendation at least once before the deadline. Sending multiple copies of the letter does not increase its chances of being considered.

Is there any difference between writing a letter of recommendation for an undergraduate degree vs. master's degree?

There is no difference in the way you write a letter of recommendation for undergraduates versus masters students. You just need to make sure that you have included all the relevant information when writing the letter.



About Author Prabu Rajasekaran

Prabu is a highly experienced content writer with expertise in English proficiency tests such as IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and PTE. He develops a range of materials, including practice tests, mock exams, guides, and checklists to help students enhance their performance. Prabu is a meticulous researcher who collaborates with domain experts and counsellors to provide accurate guidance on study abroad consultancy, education loans, SOP, and admission processes in top colleges in Canada, USA, Ireland, Australia, and the UK.

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Kanan International is an IRCC-certified study abroad consultancy that offers reliable services, products, and solutions for students and education institutions. We support students throughout their study abroad journey, ensuring a hassle-free experience. Our expertise and commitment to excellence make us the go-to partner for expanding global horizons. The company provides coaching for IELTS, GRE, TOEFL, and SAT exams and services like visa consultation, accommodation, scholarship assistance, and education loans.

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