Letters of Recommendation

The professional schools will ask for several letters of recommendation as part of your application. Many professional programs rely heavily on these university recommendations as part of their initial screening process.

The professional schools prefer an evaluation from the life science area (e.g., biology, zoology, genetics, microbiology, biochemistry), a physical science evaluation (chemistry, physics, biochemistry, or math) and a humanities or social science evaluation. Other letters may come from any academic area or from someone you shadowed, an employer, supervisor, advisor, mentor or person who has worked with you in some type of service area.

If you have performed research, you may wish to ask your supervisor for a letter. If you spent a summer working in a health care setting or research laboratory it would certainly be to your advantage to get an evaluation from someone in that area. You may obtain letters of evaluation from faculty at other universities that you have attended, but certainly consider NC State Faculty. Please note that the professional schools prefer evaluations from faculty rather than graduate teaching assistants.

Also, note that some of your letters should come from junior/senior level courses rather than just freshman level. Evaluations from personal friends, ministers, or family physicians who know you only as a patient are strongly discouraged.

Note: Many osteopathic medical schools require a letter of evaluation from an osteopathic physician. Most optometry schools require a letter of evaluation from an optometrist and essentially all dental schools expect one if not two letters from dentists you have worked or shadowed with.


  • Schedule a time to meet with your recommenders and discuss your interests and plans.
  • Supply them with your personal statement, a resume, and any other document that reflects your experience, strengths, community service, and interests.
  • Offer your recommenders information to help them in their evaluation process.

7 Tips for Letters of Recommendation

Recommender/Evaluator resources:
AAMC Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for an Applicant

Helpful Words to Consider in Writing a Recommendation

Self-Discipline Maturity Teamwork Teaching / Presentation Skills
Creativity Motivation Initiative Critical / Analytical Thinking
Autonomy Perserverance Compassion Research Skills
Integrity Enthusiasm Respect Writing Ability