Letters of Recommendation
When you apply to health professions school, you will request four to six letters of recommendation, which will be included in your committee letter and sent to your schools. At least two letters must be from evaluators who can comment on your ability in the sciences, at least one of whom must have taught you in a classroom setting.
When considering whom to approach for letters, try to consider whose letters will provide a balanced picture of you as an applicant. Letters are meant to provide details about any and all aspects of your candidacy, particularly your ability to navigate the rigorous medical school community, ways in which you will contribute to your medical school class, and suitability for a career in the health professions. HPA will provide additional guidance around choosing your recommenders, if you desire.
When asking for letters of recommendation, try to set yourself and your recommender up for success. Ask in person (it is more professional, and more personal), offer to meet with the recommender to provide more information about yourself, and give them a packet of materials that will help them to write:
Request for a letter of recommendation – this HPA form should be given to each recommender
Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Recommendation for Health Professions Schools – this handout may be useful to your recommender, particularly if s/he has not written many letters.
A copy of your resume/CV
A copy of your personal autobiography
Be sure to negotiate deadlines by which the letter should be received in HPA with your recommenders. The letter request form recommends a May date for current applicants for those recommenders who are not working with you this semester.
In the application year, students who are working with the HPA Committee Letter/PAI process will have access to veCollect, an online letter collection service, and will receive instructions on how to set up an account. All other students should request letters to be sent directly to HPA.
Students may request letters at any point in their Princeton career. HPA will store letters on file on the student's behalf for future applications for six years after graduation.
The AAMC has released Letter Writer Guidelines that provide helpful guidance regarding what medical schools are looking for in letters of recommendation.
Many questions about letters of recommendation are addressed in the Applicant Handbook, and through our FAQ feature, Questions of the Week.