Letters of Recommendation

Students planning on professional school and post-graduate experiences will need to obtain letters of recommendation from faculty and often from non-faculty (e.g. employers, clinical experiences, etc.).

Students and alumni should check with their prospective graduate schools to determine how letters of reference are submitted.  Many schools have their own systems while others will accept letters from external sites such as Interfolio (fee-based). Interfolio is a widely used and trusted commercial service for providing secure storage of confidential academic references. If you register with Interfolio, be sure to affiliate with SUNY Geneseo; this will make it possible for any Advisory Committee to access the letters. Medical school applicants requesting a composite letter are required to use Interfolio. 

We recommend at least four letters of recommendation:

  • two from faculty in your major
  • one from a non-major faculty that can speak to other academic skills and/or characteristics
  • one from an internship, supervisor, or clinical experience (if applying MD and DO, you should have a letter from both physicians)

Your individual letters of recommendation should be confidential, so be sure to waive your right to see them.

How to ask for Letters of Recommendation
  1. First, ask the professor if they are comfortable writing the letter for you. One shouldn't automatically presume that the individual knows you well enough or can honestly recommend you for a position. It is rare to be turned down, but asking in this way is polite. If the professor doesn't know you well, you can say, "I was in your Subject 101 lecture and I know it was a large class, but if I give you additional information about myself, would you be willing to recommend me for X?" Use common sense. If you cheated or skipped class, do not put the professor in the position of having to say no. But if you worked hard, showed a good attitude and were personable, ask with confidence.
  2. Second, give the person plenty of time. Professors and supervisors have many of their own deadlines to worry about. Two weeks is generally the absolute minimum amount of time to allow. If you do ask for a last-minute letter, you should express great regret about doing so and should apologize profusely.
  3. Be organized to make the process as easy as possible on these individuals. Try to submit all of your addresses and forms together, if possible. Put them in a folder with any addressed and stamped envelopes. (You should pay for the postage on your own letters of recommendation). Provide them your professors and supervisors with:
    • academic transcript
    • a resume or list of your campus activities
    • your essay if you are required to submit one
    • any other information that could be helpful.
Letter of Recommendation Etiquette
  • Select recommenders who know you well enough to write detailed letters on your behalf and who can comment on you positively.
  • When requesting this service, be specific about your goals and purpose.
  • Provide the recommender with a stamped envelope if it needs to be mailed.
  • Allow the recommender ample time to complete your letter (at least 2-4 weeks)
  • Always follow up to ensure completion.
  • Be sure to thank those who have written letters for you.


Email: careers@geneseo.edu
Phone: (585) 245-5721

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