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McNair Scholars

Resources for conducting research.


Thank you to Deanne Frye, former Director of Career Services, Coker College, for granting permission to adapt this page.

Who, What, How, and When

How do you choose which professors to ask for letters of recommendation?

  • Usually three letters are required.
  • Choose professors who know your work well, especially those who teach in your major and minor.
  • From whom have you taken the most courses?
  • Who will be able to rank you highly?

What will the professors need to address in these recommendations?

  • Graduate schools first and foremost want to know if you have the ability to successfully complete the program in the time allocated for the degree.
  • Your ability to work with peers, supervisors and subordinates; your teaching potential (since you may get a teaching assistantship) and your ability to hand work in on time.
  • Your outstanding abilities or talents and liabilities or weaknesses.
  • They will need to comment on your level of oral and written communication skills.

Once you have decided who you would like to write your recommendations, you need to send TWO emails.