What to put in a letter of recommendation for a Master's? Tips and samples

A good letter of reference can secure you a seat in your intended course and university. Before you contact your professors, gather all the necessary information.

A letter of recommendation for Master’s has to vouch for your capability to be able to keep up and perform well in the course that you want to in Master’s.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about securing a good letter of recommendation. Learn:

  • Where people go wrong
  • Why you need a CV
  • What to ask of your professor or employer
  • What should be in your letter of recommendation for Master’s
  • The requirements from a professional letter of recommendation
  • Sample LOR for MS
  • The next step: Finding funding with FundRight.


  1. Prepare a CV before asking for a letter of recommendation for Master’s

You have to prepare a CV and send a copy to your professors who will write you the letter of recommendation for your Master’s.

This CV will help them get additional information on any relevant activities or achievements.

This is especially important if your last interaction with them was a while ago.

Here is an academic CV example from Oxford.

For more details visit Oxford CV. Go to the academic CV section and not the careers one.

  1. The misunderstood letter of recommendation for Master’s

A lot of students think LORs are supposed to be general in nature. That is false.

Your LOR needs to be as specific as possible. Your professors need to tell why you are an excellent choice for a particular course.

For example, being a part of the dance club has nothing to do with an MA in Ancient History. This would be irrelevant. However if they say something like ‘you brought ancient Indian dance forms to the dance club which had previously focused only on Western forms’, this shows a commitment to your Master’s plan.

  1. Email at least four professors

Colleges will ask you anywhere from 1-3 referees. It is your job to email your professors and request a letter of recommendation well in advance.

We recommend that you ask at least four professors for LORs in case one says no.

This also gives you the option to submit the best letter of reference to your university of choice.

  1. References upload system

In some universities, you will be asked to upload the LOR on behalf of your professor.

In other cases, the professor will receive a short automated email with your details and a link to the online reference system. It will also include the deadline for your reference, as entered by you in their application form.

They might also be asked to answer a few specific questions. Inform your professors about this. Tell them which colleges will send them prompts and to which you will upload the letter to.

  1. Expectations from letter of recommendation for Master’s

Your LOR should say why you are a suitable candidate from the academic programme.

The reference letter should focus on your qualifications and experience that will be useful for the course like capacity for analysis or independent working.

Ask your professor to visit the course page at the university to learn more about the course’s requirements for knowledge and expertise so they can make a case for you.

  1. What you should ask your professor to include in the LOR

Tell your professors to:

  • Explain how they know you. This could include the courses they have taken with you or how they know you outside classrooms.
  • Describe their history and credentials so that they can understand how you arrived at your conclusion.
  • Keep the letters around 500 to 1,000 words long and no longer than two pages. Longer letters aren’t understood as showing more support.
  • Tell about your general eligibility for the proposed course, and how well the course matches their experience and interests, should be discussed.
  • If possible ask them to give specific examples of critical thinking, data analysis and your written and oral communication skills.
  • They should also confirm any prizes awarded and extra-curricular activities undertaken.
  • Present interim results for any ongoing course
  1. hings to stay away from

Here are some things, professors should not include in the letter:

  • Irrelevant details like ethnicity or sexual orientation.
  • They cannot include personal extenuating circumstances without consent.
  • Any information that does not pertain to the academic requirements of the course.
  1. Professional LOR

In some cases, you might ask for a previous employer to give you an LOR.

Make sure that the university allows that. It is usually allowed in cases where you have been out of college for 2-3 years.

Ask your employer to identify specific examples where you have demonstrated the qualities and experience required for your intended course.


Sample of LOR for MS

Dear [recipient’s name]: or To Whom it May Concern:

It is my pleasure to recommend Aisha Malik for admission to MS Engineering at Harvard University. I am a Professor at IIT Bombay. I came to know Aisha when I was her Instructor for Mechanical Engineering 101: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design and Manufacturing. The course consisted of design for manufacturing workflow and validating models and creating the G code, the programming language needed to instruct the CNC machine on how to move. Aisha distinguished herself by submitting an exceptionally well researched and interesting project on demonstrating skills in Fusion 360. I would rank her in the top 2% of students that I have taught in the past five years in respect of her writing ability and research skills.

Overall, Aisha is highly intelligent and has good analytical skills. Her project on Fusion 360 demonstrated her ability of applying design and manufacturing workflows to take digital parts to physical prototypes. She gave a particularly interesting discussion on how theory translated into tangible items. Her overall intelligence is also reflected in her grades for the course, which were by far the best in the class.

Aisha has excellent communication skills. Her written work is both clear and concise, as well as interesting to read. She demonstrated her oral articulateness in the discussion sections that were an integral part of the course. Each discussion section focused on a particular design problem. Students were required to analyze design problems and situations, and to develop their own solutions. Jane was highly proficient in applying the course material in analyzing the problem situations. Aisha also demonstrated good teamwork skills in group assignments.

At a personal level, Aisha is a well disciplined, industrious student with a pleasant personality. She went well beyond the course requirements in the quantity and quality of her project, putting in a lot of extra research and attending office hours every week. Throughout the course, Aisha demonstrated great perseverance and initiative. Not only was she interested in and motivated to learn the material, but she also put great work into assimilating it to her own experience and developing her own ideas about each ethical topic that we discussed.

Aisha is unquestionably an exceptional candidate for graduate study in Engineering. Jane’s work in Mechanical Engineering 101 suggests that she would greatly benefit from the opportunities for intellectual development provided by a sustained period of graduate study. She has proven herself to have the perseverance, initiative, and intellectual creativity necessary to complete an advanced graduate degree. I would therefore highly recommend Aisha Malik. If her performance in my class is a good indication of how she would perform as a graduate student, she would be an extremely positive asset to your program.

If I can be of any further assistance, or provide you with any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

[sender’s signature]

[sender’s name and title]

Funding statement after letter of recommendation for Master’s

Letter of recommendation is one of the last steps of the application process. After this, you have to prepare for an offer.

Once you get a place, you have to complete a Financial Declaration form in order to meet your financial condition of admission. With this, the university makes sure that you know the expected fees and living costs associated with your chosen course of study.

So, you need to find funding. 

Try FundRight, India’s first student loan bidding platform. The platform has public/private sector banks, NBFCs, and international lenders who are happy to finance your education in India or Abroad. Submit your profile once, get customized loan offers from all. Compare them and select the one that best suits your needs.

If you get an acceptance offer late, this means you have a shorter duration to submit a deposit and the financial statement. With FundRight, you can get a loan within two days.

Since banks compete to offer you loans, you can:

  • Find customized offers with better terms
  • Get loan offers without collateral
  • Save up to 23 lakhs in your loan journey

Follow the sample LOR for MS to help your professor draft a letter of recommendation for Master’s. Keep the tips that we have given in mind. Better yet, create a detailed checklist and make sure the LORs you receive check every box.

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