University Career Center

Letters of reference provide committees with additional perspectives on your past performance and future potential. Consequently, when asking an individual to write a letter, consider who can comment specifically on your skills and abilities related to your chosen career area. Keep these tips in mind when arranging your letters:

  • Request letters only from people who know you well enough to write strong letters of support; you may wish to arrange a meeting with the writer to discuss your future plans for an advanced degree.
  • It is best to request letters when your work habits, skills and interests are fresh in the writer’s mind.
  • Consider the range of possible writers, and which writers might best serve your purposes. Writers could include faculty, teaching assistants, past employers, or supervisors from volunteer and leadership experiences.
  • Allow enough time for the letter to be written, keeping in mind that you may be one of several graduate/professional school candidates requesting a letter from a particular faculty member.

The vast majority of University of Michigan students and alumni/ae relies on the UM Reference Letter Service, housed in the UM Career Center, to manage their letters due to its convenience, flexibility and affordability.

The American Association of Medical Colleges has developed a set of guidelines on how to write effective reference letters in support of medical school application.  We encourage you to share these guidelines with your writers.