How to Ask For a Letter of Recommendation

Maryland Sea Grant’s REU program requires two letters of recommendation. They are a very important part of the process -- along with your grades, your letters could be a deciding factor in the success of your application.

Here are some tips on how to ask for a letter of recommendation:

  • It's better to ask for letters from your professors rather than, for example, family, friends, or your supervisor from a part-time job.  Your professors know more about your academic skills and your potential to excel in an REU program.
  • When asking for letters of recommendation, pick professors who know you well and who will be able to talk in specific detail about what distinguishes you from other applicants.
  • Set up appointments to meet with them in person. Be ready to talk about why you want this recommendation and what makes you a strong candidate for this program. Think about what points you would like each professor to emphasize in the letter.

Be sure to provide the people writing your letters with information that will make it easier for them to write you a strong recommendation. Important information to provide includes:

  • The name and address of the person to whom they are sending the recommendation
  • A description of the program for which you are applying
  • Why you want to apply to the program
  • An addressed envelope for sending the recommendation or the e-mail address if they prefer to send your letter via PDF. Maryland Sea Grant will accept PDF files containing signed letters of recommendation on letterhead.
  • A copy of your transcript
  • A copy of your resume
  • A draft of your personal statement

Make sure you give your professors plenty of time -- at least six weeks -- before the letter is due to our program. It is good to check with them two weeks before the letter is due to see if they have written and sent it. Your recommenders are likely to be as busy as you are and don't mind you nudging them a bit, as long as you do it in a respectful and polite manner.

Finally, there is a ton of information on the Internet on how to ask for letters of recommendation.  Make use of these resources!

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