Letters of Recommendation for Health Professions
Individual Letters of Recommendation
The HPRC uses all individual letters submitted on your behalf (via the HPRC secure online portal) to complete your letter packet. We will send all letters submitted on your behalf to the central application services for the health professions program for which you are applying. We accept a minimum of three and a maximum of five letters in compiling your letter packet.
Who Should I Consider Asking for Letters of Recommendation?
Letters of recommendation are an important component of your application and give admissions committees valuable insight into different aspects of your academic, professional and personal life. Most health professions schools require that you submit letters from faculty who have personally taught you. With this in mind, below are some of the HPRC's recommended guidance on obtaining letters:
- Two letters should be from Tufts Arts, Sciences and Engineering faculty members who have taught you. At least one should be from a member of the science faculty.
- The other letters should be from other professors, employers, internship sponsors, coaches, Tufts staff members, etc. who knows you well, can evaluate you objectively, and have the most extensive and personal knowledge of you and your work.
- The most helpful letters will relate to your academic progress and potential, as well as your hands on experience such as community service work, clinical or research activities, leadership roles, or employment.
- The most effective letters will provide details about various aspects of your candidacy, including your ability to navigate the rigorous medical school curriculum, ways in which you will contribute to your health professions program, and suitability for a career in the health professions.
- Avoid letters from family and friends as these will hold less weight and are not seen as objective. Letters from elected officials should only be submitted in cases where you have worked with them directly in a professional capacity.
Requesting Recommendations - When and How?
Given the minimum requirement of three letters, we encourage you to ask four or five people to write letters of recommendation for you. Consider alternatives in the case something doesn't work out.
Approach people early - Asking recommenders a month (or more) in advance is ideal. Keep in mind they are likely writing multiple recommendation letters at any given point in the application process.
Be thorough when asking for a recommendation and provide recommenders the opportunity to say "no" - Letters or recommendation should speak to your strengths, skills, and potential. If a recommender is unable to do that because they don't know you well enough or are under time constraints, chances are it will be a weak letter. When requesting letters, you might offer a copy of your transcript, resume, or other relevant documents to help the writer. Additionally, the AAMC provides "Letter Writing Guidelines" that provide useful guidance as to what medical schools are looking for in letters of recommendation. For additional information on "Letters of Recommendation" see the AAMC website.
Entering recommender info and waiving your rights - Be sure to register your recommender correctly when you register with the HPRC and unless you have very strong convictions otherwise, you should waive your rights to see the letter. The review committee will give it more weight if you do.
Sending Committee Letter Packets
You will be specifying in your application (AMCAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS) that you will be having a letter packet. Letter packets are not sent automatically; you can submit the request to the HPRC for your letters to be sent starting on July 1. Information regarding how to request your letters to be sent will be available later in the process. No requests are accepted prior to July 1.
Letter of Recommendation Requirements by School
The Tufts Pre-Health Advising office has compiled a list of LOR requirements by school/program. Students should not rely solely on this list but also reference the program website for up-to-date changes.
Learn How to Enter Letters of Recommendation:
- On the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website
- On the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) website
- On the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) website
Letters of Recommendation Resources
Letters of Recommendation FAQs
To review the AAMC's full definition, please visit the AAMC website.
Registration to HPRC is due by April 1st. By April 1st, recommender information must be entered into the HPRC registration application. However, letters are not due until May 1st. For re-applicants, letters are due by June 1st.
Once the applicant submits their recommender information through HPRC, our online system (Slate) will send out an automated email to recommenders with submission instructions. They will upload their letter directly through a secure online portal.
Submit information for the person submitting the letter. Once you have spoken to your joint letter writers, discuss with them the best plan of action as only one of the writers will receive submission info and instructions. Both individuals should sign the letter and include their titles and contact information.
Letters are typically 1-2 pages long. Additionally, the AAMC provide a useful guide to share with your letter writers.
Professors are the best choice, and their letters are given more weight by admission committees since they have a stronger professional understanding of student assessment. You can always ask the TA to give insight to the professor in their letter. It also depends on who the TA is. A graduate student would be a more appropriate choice than an undergraduate TA.
Science letters typically come from faculty in the biology, chemistry, or physics departments. However, AMCAS allows students to classify courses by primary content, and not solely by department. For example, a psychology course whose primary content is biology (ie Brain and Behavior) can be counted as a biology course in AMCAS. Thus, a letter from a professor who teaches this course would be appropriate and count as a science letter even if the professor comes from the psychology department.
In cases where a school requires letters in addition to those entered through HPRC (for instance a number of medical schools require letters from two faculty in the sciences), an applicant will simply submit the additional letter through the application system for which they are applying (ie. AMCAS, for example).
In such cases, you can assume that so long as your letter packet contains the letter requirements for that school/program then you are set and nothing else has to be done on your part. A school can decide to read all letter included in the packet or simply read those that are specific to their requirement. Keep in mind many Health Profession Committees offer letter packets, so this is something admission officers are very familiar with.
With a letter packet, students need to be aware of the specific requirements for each school, as they vary from school to school. In our HPRC requirements, we try to cover most of these requirements as you will find most schools/programs require at least two professors, and some even require two professors in the sciences.