Letters of Recommendation

Generally, departments/programs require three (3) letters of recommendation. Check the department directory listing for specific requirements. The most important aspect of letters of recommendation is that they be completed by individuals who are in a position to analyze your academic ability and potential for success in a rigorous graduate program.

If you wish to waive your right to inspect the letters of recommendation, mark the appropriate space on the recommendation page of the online application. Enrolled students of UCSD only are permitted to inspect letters of recommendation for which they did not waive their right to access. Letters of recommendation cannot be released to the applicant and cannot be forwarded to other institutions.

Online Letter of Recommendation Process

Use of the online letter of recommendation process is encouraged by UCSD Graduate Studies.  The online recommendation process has the following advantages:

  • The application and letters of recommendation are transmitted together to the graduate program to which you apply, facilitating application review.
  • Receipt of letters of recommendation is easily monitored so you can see when each letter is submitted what letters are  pending receipt.

To use the online recommendation process, you must provide a valid email address for each recommender. The recommenders will receive an email requesting a letter on your behalf and the message includes a link to the letter of recommendation website. The first section of the site asks the recommender to verify their personal information. The second section allows for a ranking of your overall abilities. The third section allows for the upload of a letter of recommendation in PDF format. Once your recommender has submitted a letter, you will receive a confirmation email notifying you that UCSD has received the recommendation. The status of that particular recommendation will also change from pending to "received" in the Letter of Recommendation Management site.

Once the letter is submitted the recommender cannot access the letter again . The recommender receives a confirmation email notifying them that the recommendation has been received by UCSD. Emails are also generated to you and the department as notification that a letter has been received.

Paper or Hard Copy Letters of Recommendation

In the event that a recommender prefers hard copy letters or is unable to use the online letter of recommendation process, they may submit a paper letter of recommendation. To follow the paper recommendation process, you must still complete the form within the online application, listing your recommender's name and contact information and selecting the appropriate waiver option.  The recommender will receive an email containing your waiver selection. You are responsible for providing any paper recommenders with your department's address and the Paper Letter of Recommendation form.

Recommenders should send completed paper letters of recommendation directly to the major department indicated by you on the recommendation form. To avoid misdirection of the forms, enter your name, the name of your proposed major department, and the campus mail code in the space provided on each recommendation form. You can expedite the process by also giving each recommender an addressed, stamped envelope to return the letter.

Letter of Recommendation Management Site

To monitor the progress of your online letters go to the Application Management Page of the on-line application website and Click on the "Manage Recommendations" button. Here you can determine which letters have been received. From this site you can also send an e-mail reminder to recommenders.

If a recommender is not responding to your request you should check the e-mail address for accuracy and contact the recommender by telephone.

On the Manage Recommendations site you can also add recommenders. You cannot remove recommenders once they are listed.

In the event that you need to change a recommender's e-mail address, you must re-enter the recommender information in the additional spaces provided. It is not possible to change the e-mail address of the original entry.