How to Write an Academic Recommendation Letter

An academic recommendation letter might be required when a student moves to a new school, or most commonly when applying for a university/college place. It will be written by a teacher from the student's current school, unlike a letter of recommendation for a job which can be written by any previous employer and will follow the standard recommendation letter format. As it is written by a current teacher, the aim is to be as conclusive as you can and talk about the most current achievements of the student. There are certain tips and advice for recommendation letters that will provide you with more information on what to particularly mention.

Academic Recommendation Letter Format

An academic recommendation letter usually is not longer than two pages, and is typically just over a page in length. When writing a recommendation letter for a university application, only relevant topics need to be mentioned. Descriptions of achievements and skills should be kept concise and specific. This should be a typed letter in standard font and size.

  • Addressing to: formal greeting, name of addressee
  • Opening paragraph: explain who you are, who you are writing the letter on behalf of, and the program and school being applied to

  • Main body: your relationship with the student, description of their achievements and skills with examples
  • Closing paragraph: why the student is a good candidate, your recommendation and praise, your contact details for further information
  • Signing-off: your full name and position, if sent by email no signature required but if printed then hand signature required

If possible, try to discuss with the student what they would like you to include in the recommendation letter and also to have a better idea of what they want to apply for and do. It is crucial to make sure you have a timeline of deadlines for specific parts of the application as you may be required to hand in or sign further documents.  

For extra help, take a look at some recommendation letter samples.

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