PhD Handbook

LOR Samples for PhD: How to Write LOR Format for PhD Programs?

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The LOR samples for PhD are an essential part of your admission application. LOR examples for PhD will prove in handy, especially in scenarios where your candidature will be assessed for research assistantships and similar opportunities. The LOR plays a crucial role in attesting to your potential as a scholar/researcher contributing to new knowledge and hence, worthy of funding as part of your PhD program.

What are the Types of LOR Samples for PhD?

Universities offering PhD require two academic LORs and one professional LOR samples for PhD if you have work experience. Most commonly, your professional LOR will pertain to a scientific body/institution where you have conducted your post-graduate research/internship or a scientific inquiry. But if you do not have work experience, you will have to submit three academic LORs.

Universities require both offline LOR samples for PhD and online recommendations to be submitted. A scanned offline LOR should be uploaded in the online recommendation form. Please note that the requirements vary for each university.

How to Choose Your Recommenders for a PhD Program?

Choosing the right recommender who can endorse your candidature providing an objective and comprehensive assessment, is very important. This is because your other documents like the resume, SOP, and application essays will be written by you and therefore, are likely to be ‘biased’. The letter of recommendation is unique because it is your assessment from an external perspective. So, choose a recommender:

How to Choose Your Recommenders for a PhD Program

  • With whom you have a good rapport.
  • Who is familiar with your current research ideas/work.
  • Who is well aware of your research aspirations and is supportive of the same.
  • Who understands your innate capabilities and personality.
  • With whom you have shared experiences in an academic or professional context.

Suggested: PhD in USA 2022

How to Write Professional LOR Samples for PhD?

In an ideal scenario, your recommender will have to write the LOR samples for PhD or fill out the recommendation form consisting of various questions related to your suitability for a PhD. This is because the LOR examples for PhD written by your recommender make it real and authentic.

If your recommender is willing to write your LOR examples for PhD, then it is best to share with him/her your talking points, such as the research problem statement/questions, research proposal, resume, and any other relevant information that can help the recommender gauge your candidature. In any case, we recommend the following LOR format for PhD.

1.    Academic LOR format for PhD:

Following are the steps to write LOR examples for PhD:

  • Introduction

Introduce the recommender; what is his/her professional experience and designation? What is the recommender's relationship with you? (Course Instructor/Project Guide/Mentor/Head of the Department). Mention the duration of your association with the recommender. If he/she has taught you, what were the subjects taught? (theory lectures/practical lab sessions), and when (semester/year)? If he/she has guided you on your research project/s or has mentored you during an internship, mention that. Include the semester/year in which they guided you and other necessary details of the association. What are the recommender’s general impressions of you?

Very Important: The format of LOR for PhD should be written from the perspective of your recommender even if you are the person writing it!

  • Body Paragraphs

Following are the steps to be considered to write an actionable format of LOR for PhD.

  • How does your recommender remember you? What were your notable qualities? State each quality in a different paragraph. Address these qualities in the order of their importance. Focus on two-three qualities, so you may keep the body of the letter to two or three paragraphs. Your research aptitude toward the chosen field of interest should be highlighted.
  • Use specific examples to show how each quality was observed. What were the specific incident/s–when and where were these qualities/skills/capabilities noted by the recommender? (During theory classes/lab sessions/research work/assignments). If you write about the theory classes, lab sessions, or class assignments, provide details to draw relevance of this course to your research interests/goals and highlight your contribution and potential to expedite new knowledge in the proposed area.
  • If applicable, mention the technical skills you acquired or the certifications you completed, and explain with examples how these are related to your research interests.
  • If you write about the research project in which your recommender guided you, mention the topic, the objective, and your role/contribution to it. Also, include the team size and if you have led the project. Lastly, mention how you performed in the project and its potential for new advancements or research in similar areas. Mention if the research project was published in a peer-reviewed journal and the details of the same.
  • If you were an intern, mention your role in the internship. Also, comment on how relevant the internship is to your prospective research goals. If applicable, mention relevant presentations/research/seminars/publications. Mention the topic and briefly discuss it from the perspective of your mentor. Explain when and where this was presented and how it demonstrated your specific capabilities. If you include your participation in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities, mention when and where these activities took place and how these qualities will help you in your future undertakings.
  • The key qualities you can cover are research aptitude/potential, the ability for independent research, team management, time management, leadership and initiative, and scholarly writing skills (mention only which are applicable).
  • Conclusion

Summarise your qualities as a desirable candidate for the PhD program. Add any other comments you feel appropriate. Encourage the reader to contact the recommender for additional information or with any questions. Close the letter with the appropriate business closing along with the recommender's signature.

2.    Professional format of LOR for PhD

Following are the steps to write a professional PhD recommendation letter sample.

  • Introduction

Introduce the recommender and his/her professional experience and designation. What is the recommender's relationship with you? (senior/junior scientist/ immediate supervisor). Mention the recommender’s duration of association with you. What is your role in the organisation? Mention the name of your team/project/department you’re associated with, an overview of your career/research progress in the organisation, and the recommender’s general impressions about you.

  • Body Paragraphs
  • What were your notable qualities? State each quality in a different paragraph. Address these qualities in order of importance. Focus on two-three qualities, so you keep the body of the letter to two or three paragraphs.
  • Use specific examples to show how each quality was observed. What were the specific incident/s–when and where were these qualities/skills/capabilities noted by the recommender—while mentoring you or noting daily observations as your manager, supervisor, Head of the Department, or any other position of authority.
  • Mention the details of the tasks you performed and the tools you used. If you are writing about a project, elucidate instances that highlight your performance/contribution and potential for research. Quantify your achievements at the workplace.
  • Include instances that demonstrate your potential future research undertakings.
  • Focus on any one of these qualities: research aptitude, diligence, discipline, hard work, dedication, sincerity, and proactivity. Explain with situations and examples—when and where these qualities were demonstrated.
  • You can also cover team management, time management, organisational abilities, leadership and initiative, communication/presentation, organisational abilities, and emotional maturity (mention only those qualities that are applicable).
  • Discuss your experience and how it helped you acquire relevant skills for PhD in a specific discipline. Elaborate on your career aspirations and interest to pursue a PhD. Mention any other achievement/s in the organisation if applicable. When and how were these obtained and how do these attest to your research aptitude and potential to contribute to new knowledge.
  • Conclusion

Summarise your qualities as a desirable candidate for PhD with a forward-thinking approach. Add any other comments you feel appropriate. Encourage the reader to contact the recommender for additional information or questions. Close the letter with the proper business closing along with the recommender's signature.

Suggested: Sample LOR for Masters (MS)

LOR Requirements of Top Universities for PhD

Following are the top three universities for pursuing PhD along with their LOR format for PhD requirements and guidelines.

  1. Stanford University
  2. Columbia University
  3. University of California, Berkeley

Let’s explore them one by one!

1. Stanford University

Stanford University requires three professional LOR samples for PhD as an application requirement. It’s highly recommended to get recommendation letters from the faculty of the last attended institution. However, if you have more than five years of experience, professional LORs can be obtained from work associates for academic LORs.

A separate LOR is required for Stanford’s Knight Hennessy Scholars program.

2. Columbia University

For a PhD program at Columbia, you’re required to submit three letters of recommendation (at least 2 from the last attended academic institution and 1 from the workplace based on the relevance of the recommenders to the research specialisation you are applying to.

3. The University of California, Berkeley

Three letters of recommendation are required as part of the PhD application process for UC Berkeley. You need to enter the details of your recommenders, such as email ID, designation, etc, for them to receive the link to fill and submit online recommendation forms.

A scanned copy of offline LOR taken on college letterhead can be uploaded as part of the application. At least two of your recommenders should be from areas relevant to your PhD specialisation while the other LOR can also be from someone outside your field but familiar with your research interests and academic capabilities.

Important Tips for Writing LOR for PhD

Following are the tricks/tips to consider while writing a sample LOR for a PhD.

  • Choose your recommenders cautiously as per specifications in your respective PhD application. Besides, select those recommenders who have better academic qualifications/experience.
  • Communicate and stay in touch with your potential recommenders when you plan on requesting recommendations from them, well in advance.
  • Discuss your research problem statement, goals, and research proposal with your recommenders.
  • Submit the online recommendation forms well before the application deadline.
  • Target the purpose for which the letter is written clearly once at the beginning and once at the end.
  • Ensure that each LOR has distinctive anecdotes and qualities to showcase.
  • Assess your strengths/capabilities and present them candidly without exaggerating what is not true.
  • The letter should demonstrate the familiarity between you and the recommender. The recommender should have sufficient information to be able to substantiate such familiarity.
  • Share your resume, abstracts of previous research works, abstract of current research proposal/research problem statement, a scanned copy of offline LOR, and essential talking points addressing the given questions with your recommender when an online recommendation form is required. This will help the recommender vouch for your candidature better.

You can ask your recommender to share questions on the online recommendation form so you know what talking points you should provide them.

Suggested: Letter of Recommendation Guide for MS, MBA, and Others

We understand that writing a sample LOR for PhD can be challenging. But don’t worry, as Yocket is here to help you master the nuances to draft a succinct LOR for PhD courses. You can avail our end-to-end personalised services and connect with well-trained counsellors by subscribing to Yocket premium. They will surely help guide your study abroad documentation process!