Career AdviceCareer Advice - Bachelor's StudentsCareer Advice - Master's StudentsCareer Advice - PhD Students

Sample emails asking for letter of recommendation from a professor

Recommendation letters from professors and university lecturers are frequently required for applications, especially for advanced degree programs and related funding opportunities. To compose a compelling request email, it’s essential to know what information to include. Below, you’ll find guidance on what to cover, along with three sample emails to help you get started.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.


What to include in an email to a professor when asking for a recommendation letter

Meeting with professors in person to ask for a recommendation letter is not always possible, especially if they provided online education or if you graduated some time ago and no longer attend their classes.

In such cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a polite email requesting a recommendation letter.

To ensure that your email is clear and informative, follow these guidelines:

  1. Use a clear and specific subject line that indicates you are requesting a recommendation letter, such as “Kind request for Recommendation Letter for Scholarship Application
  2. Begin with a polite and formal greeting, such as “Dear Professor X.” If you are unsure of how to address a professor in an email, refer to this resource which explains how to address professors in emails according to their rank in the university system.
  3. State the purpose of your email, such as the academic degree, scholarship, or summer school program to which you are applying. Be sure to specify the timeline of the application and the deadline for the recommendation letter that you need.
  4. If available, provide any requirements for the letter, such as the length or specific points to cover. Different organizations may have different requirements.
  5. Send or offer to send any useful information such as your CV, your motivation letter, or bullet points explaining why you are a suitable candidate. You can even offer to draft a recommendation letter yourself (in which case, an example recommendation letter could be useful for inspiration).

If you are still unsure of how to craft a concise email, take a look at the three sample emails provided below.

Structure and layout of an email asking a professor for a recommendation letter

Sample email asking for a recommendation letter 1

Dear Professor Jabari,

I hope this email finds you well. As one of your former graduate students, I wanted to reach out to you for a request. You may recall that I took your Advanced Sociology class in 2020 and completed my thesis on social welfare programmes and government withdrawal in New Zealand under your guidance. I am pleased to share that I graduated with honors in May 2021 and subsequently began a traineeship at the government in the department of social affairs.

As my traineeship draws to a close, I have decided to pursue a PhD degree in Sociology at the University of Auckland. I am reaching out to ask if you would be willing to serve as one of my references for my application to the program. The deadline for application is June 30, 2023, and I am required to provide the names of two referees. If my application advances to the next round, the university will reach out to you for a written evaluation, which would be due by September 30th.

To help you understand the requirements for recommendation letters, I have attached more information on the Sociology PhD program and the application process to this email. If it would be helpful, I am happy to provide additional information about my reasons for applying or even a draft of your letter.

Thank you for considering my request. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything else I can provide to support this process. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Simon Houlak
Example 1 of an email asking a professor for a recommendation letter

Sample email asking for a recommendation letter 2

Dear Dr. Sival,

I hope you are doing well. I really enjoyed the academic internship that I did under your supervision in your lab last year. As my undergraduate degree is almost completed, I have decided to apply to Master’s programs in Chemistry to further pursue my interest in inorganic chemistry and particularly organometallic compounds.

I was hoping that you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me as we worked closely during the internship, and your recommendation would be very valuable in supplementing my applications.

I am planning to apply to the following Master’s programs:
– MSc Chemistry at the University of Southampton (with a deadline of July 15, which includes the recommendation letter)
– MSc Chemistry at Leeds University (with a deadline of August 31, which also includes the recommendation letter)

As neither program specifies any requirements for the recommendation letter, I believe that the same letter could be used for both applications with only minor adjustments. I understand that you have a busy schedule, and I am happy to support the process in any way I can.

Thank you in advance for your consideration, and please let me know if there is any additional information you require.

Best regards,

Miriam Fuoraw
Example 2 of an email asking a professor for a recommendation letter

Sample email asking for a recommendation letter 3

Dear Professor Li,

My name is Lincoln Nicholls, and I attended your intensive summer course in Global Politics last year. I am now applying for a fully-funded PhD position in Global Politics at Dublin University to research the changing role of NATO in light of the Ukraine war.

I have successfully advanced to the second application round, which requires me to submit two recommendation letters. The selection committee is looking for expert assessments on my knowledge and application of global political theory. I believe that you are in a good position to evaluate my abilities in this area, and I was wondering if you would be willing to write a reference letter for me.

The deadline for submitting the recommendation letter is in five weeks, on February 16. I understand that time is tight, but I would greatly appreciate your assistance. I am also happy to provide any support or information that you might need.

I have attached my initial application (CV and motivation letter) to this email for your information.

Thank you for considering my request.

Best regards,

Lincoln Nicholls
Example 3 of an email asking a professor for a recommendation letter

Master Academia

Hello, I'm Master Academia, a tenured professor dedicated to guiding individuals through their academic journey. With experience and insights from studying and working across different academic systems, I currently work full-time at a university in Western Europe. Recognizing the impact of unspoken rules in academia, I founded Master Academia to make academic knowledge more accessible to all.

Related Articles

Back to top button