A letter of recommendation (LOR) or recommendation letter is an important document required for your study abroad application. A recommendation letter from the right person can guarantee you a seat at your dream university, just like a Statement of Purpose (SOP) and resume. Similar to how an SOP and Resume cover all of your abilities, academics, personal qualities, and professional experiences, the recommendation letter for a PhD serves as living proof of these activities from your professors or employers. A LOR for PhD applicants is essential in their application process because this single document will pitch your interest in your chosen field.
Types Of Recommendation Letters For PhD Admission
It is usually required to submit two recommendation letters for a PhD student. To be safe, the applicant should have at least three recommendation letters for PhD admissions ready. Depending on the university, there are various methods for submitting a LOR:
- Subjective/Objective Questionnaire Format
Few universities, send an e-mail that usually contains an objective or subjective questionnaire format to the recommenders listed on your application form. This e-mail primarily contains a link to the university’s website, where the recommender is asked to answer a series of questions. These questions are typically based on an individual’s characteristics and abilities. The recommenders may be asked to rate the applicant on a scale or to explain why they mentioned a specific quality about the applicant. In other cases, the LOR questions can be sent directly to the recommender via email, where they only need to fill out the answers and send them back to the university. It is done to protect the document’s authenticity and to keep the applicant’s identity hidden.
- Generic Format
Most universities will request a generic LOR right away. A recommendation letter for a PhD will follow the same format as MS and MBA recommendation letters. Only the content of the applicant’s research work is expected to be brief. Starting with a strong introduction, the LOR should include at least three applicant qualities with supporting examples. Apart from academic proficiency, these qualities can be focused on social interaction, technical skills, the ability to conduct dedicated research and subject-related capabilities. Furthermore, because a PhD is an advanced degree programme, the recommender should focus on research projects, thesis work, research skills, passion for the field, dedication and self-motivation.
Whom To Ask For A LOR For PhD?
A PhD programme is competitive and demanding, hence every document in your application process is important. Even with extremely good test scores and academic credentials, students’ applications may be waitlisted or even rejected based solely on the quality of other documents. In such cases, documents such as a sample research essay, SOP and LOR come handy. They serve as the deciding factor when comparing candidates with similar profiles. As a result, it is critical to select the right person to serve as your recommender. The ideal person to write your recommendation letter for a PhD are:-
- Professor of the subject.
- Project Guide or any academician who guided you through the completion of your project.
- Any other professor or employer with whom you collaborated on a research project or work.
- An internship or project supervisor can provide academic recommendations.
- Supervisors in the lab.
Your recommenders should be able to back up your academic abilities and interests. You will also have an advantage if you have previously worked in that field with well-known professors or researchers. A LOR from well-known people will boost your profile!
The recommender should be able to actively support you as a person, know you well as a department student, observe your abilities as a student and be aware of your plans. As a result, the recommender should have known you (academically or professionally) for at least a year. It is also important to note that friends, acquaintances, family members, or relatives are not permitted to write your recommendation letter for a PhD.
How To Draft A PhD Recommendation Letter
An ideal recommendation letter for a PhD should be one to two pages long with five to six paragraphs in total, not longer than that. Begin your LOR with an introduction that refers the candidate directly to the university/college. It is mainly an introduction of the recommender to the university and how long they have known the applicant. Along with this, the recommender should also state how long (period) they have known the applicant. These concerns should be addressed in the first paragraph.
The following paragraphs of your PhD recommendation letter should be divided into three to four body paragraphs. Here the recommender should discuss specific distinct qualities/skills of the applicant based on instances when they observed that quality in the applicant. The following characteristics should be prioritised by recommenders:
- Excellent subject knowledge in the applicant’s project/thesis topic.
- Analytical abilities.
- Self-motivation and self-assurance.
- Additional courses/knowledge obtained by the applicant to supplement his/her work in the chosen field.
- Passion and dedication to the topic/field, as well as research work.
- Research abilities.
In conclusion, LOR is an important part of the documentation process while applying to a university. It gives you an advantage over other candidates with similar profiles because it elevates all of the academic and professional excellence you’ve already mentioned in your other documents. As a result, a recommendation letter for a PhD becomes a stage in which the recommender supports and recommends your application for direct acceptance to the university.
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