College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Graduate Letters of Recommendation

The most useful letters of recommendation come from persons familiar with your academic work, such as recent instructors or a thesis director. If your work experience includes the production of analytical writing and you are applying to the Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) concentration, then the supervisor of such projects may provide a supplementary recommendation. If you are a teacher, your principal or supervisor would also be a suitable reference for the MA concentration in the Teaching of Writing and Literature (TWL). Otherwise, however, non-academic supervisors or counselors are unlikely to provide the level of specificity about your academic potential that the Admissions Committee looks for, so we urge applicants to seek out academic letters whenever possible.

In turn, we ask applicants to urge their recommenders to write specific and detailed letters; they should not only check off boxes on the form, but offer a considered evaluation of an applicant's potential. Recommenders' letters should specify the context of their work with you, address the quality of your written and oral work in relevant course(s) or in work-related responsibilities that might reveal a capacity for academic performance, and candidly assess your readiness for and commitment to advanced study in English.

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