Need a Recommendation?

How to Manage Your Letters of Recommendation Requests

6 weeks in advance of your deadline

  • Identify the number of recommenders your application requires, and contact recommenders via email to gauge their willingness.  Your recommenders should know your work well.
    In your initial email include the following information:

    • What you are applying for
    • Deadline for the application

4 weeks in advance of the deadline

If your recommender agrees, then follow-up with:

  • How the letter should be submitted and to whom (full name and title)
    For example: Dr. Bobbi XXX, Chair, Department of Museum Education, Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.
  • Copy of your Resume and personal statement for the application
    Or, 1 paragraph statement to your recommender, explaining why you are ideal for this program or position.
  • A copy of your transcript, which you may request via the Registrar.

2 weeks before the deadline

  • Check-in with your recommender that he/she has all the necessary information
  • If the letter is to be submitted via electronic portal (Embark, eg), be sure that your recommender has received the email prompt.

First, you should discuss your plans for applying to internships or graduate programs with your academic advisor, particularly if you are applying for the latter. S/he will be able to advise you before you move forward with requesting letters.

Next, email to ask if each of your referees if s/he would be willing to write a letter for you, explaining the internship or graduate program(s) to which you are applying and a BRIEF explanation about why you are applying. You should also mention the number of internships/programs for which you want them to write and explain that you’ll provide further information if they are able to write for you.

If they agree, provide them with:

  • A list of the internships/programs including the exact name of each internship/program and related institution, and its address.
  • If possible, include the name of the individual to whom each letter should be addressed, for example: Dr. Bob Smith, Chair, Department of Museum Education, Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.
  • Explain how each reference should be submitted.
  • If by email, include the email address.
  • If an online submission, explain that they’ll receive instructions (from the institution usually) on how to submit the reference.
  • If by post, provide the referee with an addressed, stamped envelope, as well as any required form(s) for the reference.
  • Include the date by which the reference is due.
  • Explain why you are interested in each internship/program.
  • An updated resume/CV.
  • A copy of your personal statement for the program or internship (if required) even if in draft form.
  • Ask if the referee would like or needs further information.
  • A good timeline is to ask if someone will serve as a referee at least 6-8 weeks before the due date; provide all relevant materials 6 weeks before the due date; and 2 weeks before deadline – if you have not received confirmation that the letter has been sent – remind them with a polite, brief email.
  • Finally, be certain to waive your right to read the letter/reference. Otherwise, the search/admissions committee will not take your application as seriously as it is assumed that referees will not be as honest if the applicant can read the reference.