Academic Reference Letter and Request Examples

Professor and college student in classroom
Hero Images / Getty Images

Do you need to write to a teacher requesting a reference letter? Or do you need to write a recommendation letter for a student? These references are often called academic letters of recommendation. The letter may be a recommendation for a college, scholarship, special college program, or fellowship.

Academic recommendations may also be requested as part of a job application and can be very powerful when applying for a job or internship where the job correlates to the academic experience of the applicant.

 A student may rely on academic recommendations from either their high school teachers or college professors to make up for their lack of work experience. 

What is an Academic Recommendation?

An academic letter of recommendation is a one to two page letter that highlights a student's academic history, character, and academic and/or career goals. The letter expands upon a student's report card or transcript, providing insight into what kind of student and/or potential employee they are.  It is important to ask a teacher that you are confident will write what you want the hiring company or academic institution to hear. Often, recommendation letters are requested in sealed envelopes, with the signature of the letter’s author over the seal.  This is done to ensure the reference is authentic and speaks the truth about the job candidate. 

Guidance counselors, administrators, and supervisors may also write academic letters of recommendation for students.

 You can also ask for letters of recommendation before you graduate.  This way you have some letters ready to go and can attach them to your resume or application right away.  Letters written ahead of time will need to be more general so they can work for more than one application. 

Remember to ask for a few copies of the letter and ask your teacher to place them in sealed and signed envelopes, just in case a future employer would like to receive it in that format.

  On a similar note, when you ask your teacher’s for references at the end of your time at school, request formal and informal copies of your transcript from the registrar's office.  You will be pleased to have these in a folder waiting for you when you apply for your first job.

Sample General Academic Recommendation Request from Student to Teacher

This is a sample letter a student can email or mail to a former teacher asking for a reference letter.

Dear Professor Lee,

As I prepare for my journey into the workforce after graduation, I am hoping to gather a general letter of recommendation from you that I can use for future teaching position applications.

As my elementary education advisor, mentor, and professor. I feel a reference from you would provide a potential employer with the insight into my character and teaching abilities ensuring them I would be an ideal candidate for the early childhood education position they are looking to fill.

If you need any additional information, please contact me via email or phone.

If you would kindly provide me with four signed copies of you letter in sealed envelopes with your signature across the seal, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Sincerely,

Sue Wright
555-555-5555
suewright@ccc.com

Sample General Academic Recommendation for a Student

This general academic reference letter can be drafted by a teacher for a student to keep in their academic portfolio for future use.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this reference for Mary Miller, a student I was fortunate to work with during her senior year at Newton College.  As both Mary’s academic advisor and professor of Children's Literature, I have watched her grow into a passionate and knowledgeable teacher. 

A natural in the classroom, Mary has worked with students in both inclusive classrooms as well as individually, focusing on their special needs in reading and writing.

Mary is a patient and compassionate teacher and is the ideal candidate for your special education graduate program.

  Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions you may have regarding Mary at 555-123-2345 or email, lemail@college.edu.

Sincerely,

Laurie Gallo
Education Department Chair
Newton College

Sample Academic Recommendation for a Student

Here is a sample academic reference letter from a teacher.

Dear Ms. Jones:

I am writing this reference at the request of Katie Kingston who is applying for the Summer Communications Program at XYZ University.

I have known Katie for two years in my capacity as a teacher at Smithtown Middle School. Katie took English and Spanish from me and earned superior grades in those classes. Based on Katie's grades, attendance and class participation, I'd rate Katie's academic performance in my class as superior.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend Katie Kingston for this academic program. If her performance in my class is any indication of how she will succeed, Katie will be a positive addition to the program. If you should need any additional information, you can feel free to contact me at 555-555-5555 or by email at name@email.com anytime.

Sincerely,

Susan Samuels
Teacher
Smithtown Middle School

More About Academic References: Academic Recommendation Letters | How to Ask a College Professor for a Recommendation