For Faculty

General Guidelines and Areas to Address in the Letter

  • Share an accurate assessment of the applicant’s suitability for the professional program
  • Briefly explain your relationship to the applicant (what capacity do you know the student, for how long and if your assessment is based upon direct or indirect observations)
  • The quality of the letter is more important than length. Please share as much as you can about the applicant rather than details about specific class, job, research, etc.
  • Providing GPA or test score information is not necessary unless you can provide a context to interpret them.
  • Share behaviors or character traits you have observed in the applicant and why you think they are suitable or unsuitable for the intended profession.When writing a letter of evaluation it is most helpful to provide as much personal and anecdotal information as you can with the admissions committee. Applicants have the opportunity to share their transcript, test scores and a list of work and/or activities within the application so re-iterating these aspects is not necessary unless you can provide greater meaning and insight to those areas. Individuals writing for pre-medical students may find it helpful to visit the Letters of Evaluation Guidelines (PDF) on the American Association of Medical Colleges website.
  • Consider the applicant you are writing for. What do you know of his or her background? Have there been any obstacles he or she has had to overcome?
  • Does the applicant possess any of the skills or character traits below and why would you say so? No one letter writer is expected to be able to speak to every skill an applicant may have. Professional schools often require letters from different evaluators (i.e. faculty, work supervisors, healthcare professionals, research or volunteer supervisors) so that they may learn about the applicant from different perspectives.
  • Thinking and Reasoning Abilities: critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific inquiry or the scientific process, and written communication
  • Scientific Abilities (if applicable for the chosen field): living systems, human behavior, chemical processes
  • Interpersonal Abilities: social skills, collaboration and teamwork, oral communication, service orientation and dedication to others
  • Intrapersonal Abilities: reliability, adaptability, diligence toward a problem or situation, ethical responsibility toward oneself and others, and the capacity and openness for improvement