Guidelines for Letters of Evaluation
While you must pay careful attention to the guidelines of each school that requests your letters, we suggest you identify the following people to request letters of evaluation from:
- Two science faculty who taught you in a class
- One non-science faculty
- One individual working in the profession you wish to pursue (example: an osteopathic physician, dentist, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc)
- One or two additional individuals who know you well from a work, volunteer or research experience
Pre-health Committee Letters
MSU does not have a pre-medical or pre-health committee and does not create letter packets for applicants. MSU students collect individual letters for their applications.
Ask your letter writer if they will be able to provide a good, supportive letter of evaluation, or recommendation, for you. Provide them with some basic information about the ‘who, what, when, where, how, and why’ associated with your request. It is HIGHLY recommended that all letters are confidential. Confidential letters of evaluation are letters that you will never be able to view. Many graduate and professional schools require that letters are confidential.
Professional schools want current letters of evaluation, so we recommend requesting letters in the same calendar year of your application.
Timing is another important factor in requesting letters. Remember that your letter writers busy people too, so you will want to give them enough time to write you a good letter, not a rushed one. We recommend giving letter writers a MINIMUM of 3 weeks to write your letters.
We recommend providing the following information in a nice neat packet for your letter writer:
- Information about the purpose of the letter: scholarship, honor, award, grad/professional school, etc.
- Your requested timeline (please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for processing).
- A copy of your personal statement if available.
- A current resume and list of activities, involvement, and accomplishments if not listed on resume.
- ALSO: Make sure you send a note of appreciation to your reference for taking the time to write a letter or evaluation for you.
Collecting Letters: Credential Files vs. Centralized Application Services
We recommend collecting letters within the calendar year of submitting your application so that your letters are current.
Credential files are often used to hold letters, recommendations, and unofficial transcripts for candidates applying to graduate/professional schools or seeking employment in the field of education. Documents kept in your file will be sent out upon your request. This process allows the person recommending you to write one letter and have it submitted for you to send to anyone upon request. When creating your credential file, be sure to designate your letters as "Confidential".
For professional schools or Centralized Application Services that accept letters from a credential file, we recommend using the fee-based, credentials management service, Interfolio, Inc., in order to provide you a more efficient and effective way to manage your letters of evaluation.;
It is advisable to establish your credential file well in advance of submitting your application to professional school in order to allow those individuals writing on your behalf to file letters early. Faculty are often on sabbatical during the summer months and it may be hard to acquire your letters during that time.
While some professional schools will accept letters from a credential file, others will require that the letters are submitted through the Centralized Application Service or to the schools directly. See chart below.
Undergraduate Academic Student AffairsNatural Science Building
288 Farm Lane, Room 108
East Lansing, MI 48824 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org