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Writing Letters of Recommendation

boston college career center

Faculty often get requests from students to write letters of recommendation for graduate school or job applications.

The Career Center encourages students to give their recommenders as much relevant information as possible, including their resume and details about their career interests. Students should also provide specific guidelines for each institution to which they are applying.


Here are a few tips on writing a compelling letter of recommendation:

  • Reference specific skills that are relevant to the application. For a law school recommendation, for example, you could emphasize a student’s strong communication skills and provide an example of a time when the student demonstrated that skill.

  • Be specific about the student's coursework. Was the course a demanding one? How well did the student perform oral and written assignments? Did the student do something that stands out in your mind; for example, did the student write a superior term paper or essay? If so, indicate the topic and why it was a superior work. Note the student's potential for intellectual development.

  • Indicate how long and in what capacity you have known the student. If you are familiar with the student’s achievements outside the classroom, mention them. Also note any additional information that may be useful, such as work experience or fluency in another language.

  • Make your letter look official. Print the letter on Boston College letterhead, and seal it in a letterhead envelope. It is advisable to sign your name across the seal.

  • Avoid any questions about confidentiality. Send the letter directly to the institution, instead of giving it to the student to send on your behalf.

NACE provides a good example of a Sample Faculty Reference Letter.