Letters of Recommendation


Check with the program that you are applying to for guidelines on who to ask for letters of recommendation. Most programs require three letters of recommendation; some will accept more. Generally, at least one letter will need to be from a science professor, and another from an instructor in your major. The third letter might come from a professional in the field, someone that you have shadowed for example, who can speak directly to your ability to work with people (or with animals, for veterinary medicine). The Health Professions Committee will accept only three letters of recommendation to forward to the medical schools on your behalf. Additional letters must be submitted directly to the applications service.

Start thinking about your letters at least a year before you need to request them.  The letters need to be from someone who knows you beyond being able to say, “This student received an A in my class.” If the professor needs to ask your name, that is not the person to ask! A good letter will describe the letter writer’s relationship to you, address your potential to succeed in the program that you are applying for, and explain the reasons why he or she believes you will succeed. The more concrete examples that the letter writer can provide, the more weight the letter will carry. 

How do you get to know a professor this well? Be an active participant in class. Ask and answer questions, contribute to class discussions. Meet with the professor outside of class. Take advantage of extra credit opportunities. Actively engage in service learning projects if the opportunity presents itself. An excellent way to get to know a professor better is to work with him or her on a research or honors project. But don’t sign on for research just so that a professor will know you! A lackluster commitment to research will likely result in an unenthusiastic letter. 

Is a letter from a TA acceptable? Generally, letters from TAs are not considered useful. It is also not appropriate to get letters from employers out of the healthcare field, high school teachers or counselors, coaches, etc.


WFU Health Professions Office Letter of Recommendation Guidelines:

Only three letters of recommendation will be accepted by the Health Professions Committee for students applying to medical school.

If you request more than three letters, the Health Professions Office will only be able to use the first three letters.

The deadline for receipt of the letters of evaluation is May 17th.  Submitted letters must be a pdf file, on official letterhead, signed, and dated.

Traditionally, at least two letters of evaluation should be from faculty members.  One of these faculty members should be from the sciences.  Your third evaluator can be another faculty member, a research mentor, or someone you have worked with in a clinical setting.  However, please check with your institutions of interest to make sure that school does not have certain requirements regarding letters of recommendation.

If you are applying to Osteopathic school(s), one of your letters should be from a Doctor of Osteopathic
Medicine. However, this letter does not have to be one of the three letters included with our Committee Letter. You can submit the letter from the DO directly to AACOMAS or specific osteopathic schools.

If you are applying to dental school, you can request up to four letters. One of these should be from a dentist.

The “committee letter” submitted to AMCAS/AACOMAS/TMDSAS/AADSAS contains the Health Professions Committee letter attached to the three letters of recommendation that were submitted on your behalf to Prehealth, altogether as one PDF packet. Thus, the three letters of recommendation submitted to Prehealth do not need to be individually submitted to AMCAS/AACOMAS/TMDSAS/AADSAS.

If there are additional letters you would like to submit to AMCAS outside of these three letters, you can have the evaluators submit the letters directly to AMCAS.

How will I know if my letter has been received?
If you are still missing letters of recommendation by one week before the deadline (May 10th), you will be notified so that you may be able to contact your letter writers with a reminder if you desire.
If you are still missing letters of recommendation after the deadline has passed, you will be notified during the week of May 20th-24th.

Please see the Preparing to Apply Checklist and Pre-Health website for more information. General questions can be e-mailed to prehealth@wfu.edu.