Career Center

The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) offers University of Michigan degree-seeking students and alumni/ae the opportunity to have letters of reference on file to use in support of their application to graduate and professional school or employment.

The service is convenient both to the file holders—especially those who wish to maintain the confidentiality of their letters and are applying to multiple programs or institutions—and to the letter writers, since they are only required to submit one original letter. Reference files may only contain original letters. The RLS is unable to house transcripts, resumes, cover letters, school-specific forms or any other materials.

A file of original reference letters is maintained for five years from the day the file was established or through June 30, 2018, whichever date comes first. There is $25.00 fee to open and maintain a reference letter file with the RLS. If needed, file longevity may be extended through June 30, 2018 for a one time $25 renewal fee. In addition, there is a charge to process requests to have letters sent to prospective employers or graduate and professional schools.

As a University of Michigan degree-seeking student or alumnus/a, you may establish a reference file with the RLS as soon as you complete twelve credit hours at The University of Michigan. At your request, copies of your file will be mailed to graduate and professional school admissions offices, potential employers, and scholarship and fellowship granting organizations. Based on feedback received from admissions officers and employers, you should collect no more than six letters of reference in your file.

Adding Reference Letters to Your File

Is there a charge to open a reference letter file?
Yes. There is a $25 charge to open a file. The file will be active through June 30, 2018. There is also a nominal charge each time you request to send your letters.

When should I start collecting letters?
You are encouraged to open your reference letter file early in your academic career so that you may begin seeking reference letters long before application deadlines. It is good practice to approach letter writers well in advance of when you anticipate needing the letters.

How many letters can I keep in my file?
The Career Center's Reference Letter Service (RLS) suggests limiting your file to no more than six letters. Feedback from admissions officers and employers indicates that selection committees typically request 2-4 letters per applicant, and submitting more letters than requested may work to the candidate’s disadvantage. However, having a selection of letters in your file may provide you with the flexibility to send different combinations of letters to meet the varying requirements of academic institutions or employers.

Who should write my reference letters?
Graduate and professional school admissions committees, as well as employers across various fields, rely on reference letters that speak to your academic performance and personal achievement to aid their decision-making processes. Therefore, you are strongly encouraged to gather references from persons who can best describe your experiences, skills, and abilities. Letters of reference may be written by faculty, graduate student instructors, or former/current supervisors of employment, internships, and/or volunteer experiences. These individuals are usually best suited to discuss your performance and offer the most useful information to selection committees.

How do I request letters from my recommenders?
First and foremost, ascertain the individual’s willingness to serve as a recommender on your behalf. Then request a reference letter from them for online submission. Should this individual prefer to submit your reference on paper, give them a completed and signed evaluation form to return, along with their letter, to the Reference Letter Service.

How should letters be sent to the Reference Letter Service?
The fastest, most efficient way for recommenders to submit reference letters is online. However, writers are welcome to return letters via mail or in person if they so prefer. All confidential letters turned in to The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) by someone other than the letter writer must arrive in sealed envelopes signed over the seal by the authors of the letters. Non-confidential letters may be turned in by the writer or the file holder.

What happens if I forget to indicate my preference for a confidential or non-confidential letter?
Letters received without the evaluation form provided by The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS), or without your signature indicating your preference for a confidential or non-confidential letter, will automatically be classified as non-confidential. You may not change the status of a letter after it has been received in the RLS.

May I include a transcript, resume, curriculum vitae, or additional material in my file?
No. The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) only houses reference letters. If you wish to send additional materials with your reference letters to a specific organization, you may also choose the Letters Plus! shipping option.

How can I collect letters from individuals living in other countries?
You may request references from letter writers living abroad by following the same procedure. Request letters abroad well ahead of any deadlines, especially if the writer will be returning the letter via international mail. Exercise caution if the writer is not a native speaker and/or is not accustomed to U.S. norms for reference letter writing. Should the letter be written in a language other than English, it is strongly recommended that you make arrangements to provide The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) with an official translation.

Will I be notified when a new letter is added to my file?
Because of the volume of letters received daily, The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) is unable to notify you each time a letter is added to your file. You may check online which letters have been received by the RLS by using your University of Michigan uniqname and password. If you do not have a current University of Michigan uniqname, please contact the RLS at 734/764-7459 or e-mail rlservice@umich.edu, and a staff member will gladly check your file for you.

Sending Reference Letters

How do I submit a request to have my letters sent?
The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) accepts request forms submitted online, and by mail, fax, or in person. The RLS cannot accept requests by phone or e-mail.

When should I submit my request to have letters sent?
Processing and delivery times vary depending on the time of year and the mailing option utilized. For more detailed information on estimated processing and delivery time frames, costs, etc. see the mailing options grid.

Where can I send my reference letters?
With your written permission, The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) will release your letters to prospective employers, professional and graduate schools, and scholarship and fellowship offices with verifiable business addresses. You may also have your letters sent to certain professional school data assembly services such as AMCAS, LSAC, AADSAS, etc. The RLS is unable to send to personal addresses, current employers, or to personal acquaintances.

May I send my application materials along with my reference letters?
Most graduate and professional schools allow reference letters to be sent separately from application materials. However, you may choose to use the Letters Plus! service to send all materials together from the RLS. The RLS is unable to release confidential letters to you under any circumstances.

What types of payment does The Career Center accept?
The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) accepts cash, checks, money orders (payable to the University of Michigan), and Visa or MasterCard payments.

Will The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service hold my request until all of my letters have arrived?
All requests received by The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) are processed with the letters in your file at the time the request is submitted. You are encouraged to verify and check the contents of your file prior to making your request.

Why, when requesting to send letters online, am I unable to cut and paste addresses in the appropriate fields?
Because cutting and pasting text may cause involuntary copying of unwanted (invisible) characters, which are known to cause technical glitches, that feature is suppressed. If you have multiple requests and do not wish to type each individual address, you have the option to fax the appropriate paper request form to the RLS along with a document containing the cut and pasted addresses.

Checking and Updating Your File

How do I know if/when the authors of my reference letters have sent their letters to the RLS?
Because of the volume of letters received each day, The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service (RLS) is unable to notify you each time that a letter written on your behalf has arrived. You may check online which letters have been received by the RLS with your University of Michigan uniqname and password. If you do not have a current University of Michigan uniqname, please contact the RLS at 734/764-7459 or e-mail rlservice@umich.edu and a staff member will gladly check your file for you. You are encouraged to check the contents of your file periodically in order to verify that your reference letters have arrived. If your letters have not arrived, you may want to follow up with your letter writers directly. Always check the status of your file prior to submitting a request to have your letters sent to a potential employer or admission committee.

How can I verify that my letters have been sent?
You can check online processed requests with a current University of Michigan uniqname and password. You may also contact The Career Center’s Reference Service (RLS) at 734/764-7459 or e-mailrlservice@umich.edu and the RLS staff will gladly check your file’s activity for you.

How long will my file remain active?
Your file will remain active for five years from the date your file was opened or through June 30, 2018, whichever comes first. If your file is about to become inactive, you can extend its longevity through June 30, 2018 for a $25 renewal fee. After your file becomes inactive, it is eventually destroyed. If you are unsure about the status of your file, you can check online or you can contact The Career Center’s Reference Letter Service staff for assistance at 734/764-7459 or e-mail rlservice@umich.edu.

What do I do if I need to update my contact information?
While you file is active, you can update your contact information, education or work history anytime online or by submitting (drop off in person, mail or fax) an updated Reference File Registration Form.