Three letters of recommendation are required for your application.
Choose Your Recommenders
Letters of recommendation should come from academic or professional references who know you well and are qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work.
Refer to your graduate program’s website to check whether it offers specific guidance on choosing your recommenders.
Register Your Recommenders
Register your recommenders in the online application as early as possible to ensure their letters are received by the application deadline.
- After you enter your recommender’s information, the application system sends a personalized link to that individual to submit the recommendation online.
- After your recommender submits the recommendation letter, you will receive an email notification.
- You may manage your recommenders on the same Recommendations page where you registered them. This includes sending reminder emails and changing recommenders. You continue to have access to this page after you submit your application.
Note: We are unable to accept letters of recommendation submitted via Interfolio, as recommenders are required to respond to specific evaluation questions in addition to uploading a letter. Please ask your recommenders to submit their letters directly using the online application system. Keep in mind that letters written specifically for your Stanford graduate program tend to be stronger than letters written for general use purposes.
Each of your recommenders are asked to respond to the following questions:
- Please identify the most selective group to which you are comparing the applicant
- Undergraduate students
- Master's level students
- Doctoral level students
- Other (please specify)
- How many years have you evaluated people in this group?
- Approximately how many people are in this group, totaled over those years?
- In overall ability (as appropriate to graduate studies) this candidate is among the:
- Top 1-2%
- Top 5%
- Top 10%
- Top 25%
- Second quarter
- Third quarter
- Bottom quarter
- No basis for judgment
- Admission to graduate study at Stanford University is:
- Strongly recommended
- Recommended with reservations
- NOT recommended
The general prompt for the recommendation letter is:
Please write candidly about the applicant’s qualifications, potential to carry on advanced study in the field specified, intellectual independence, capability for analytical thinking, ability to organize and express ideas clearly, and potential for teaching. Descriptions of significant actions, accomplishments, character, and personal qualities related to scholarly achievement are particularly helpful.
The exact prompt displayed to the recommender may differ depending on the graduate program you select.
Refer to your graduate program’s website to check whether it offers specific guidance on what recommenders should include in their letters.
Your recommenders must be the sole authors of your letters of recommendation. Drafting, writing, translating, or submitting your own reference, even if asked to do so by a recommender, is a violation of our application terms. You are responsible for informing your recommenders of this policy.