Letters of Recommendation for Study Abroad Applications

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Those interested in studying abroad must submit one recommendation from a professor, advisor, staff member or supervisor as part of your study abroad application. Here are a few things to consider before you ask:

Look for the best letter writer for you. 

The person who can speak authoritatively and honestly about your academic work, your maturity, adaptability, and passion for intercultural exchange will be the best letter writer. Consider whose perspective and experience will shed the most light on the qualities you want to highlight. Please note that the letter of recommendation you submit may not be written by the faculty or staff leading the study abroad program for which you are applying.

Ask in advance

Be sure to ask your potential recommender if he or she feels able to write you a strong recommendation, and ask well enough in advance. This usually means asking around a month ahead of time.  If you sense hesitation, you may be better off going elsewhere. 

Supply quality information 

Provide your letter write with information that makes it easy for them to write an effective recommendation. Here are some suggestions:

  • An up-to-date resume.
  • Your unofficial transcript.
  • Information about the study abroad program for which you’re applying.
  • Short bullets that link your knowledge, skills, and abilities to the study abroad program requirements. (Show why you're a good fit.)
  • It's also helpful to provide a brief explanation of an experience you had with your letter writer that can jog his/her memory of who you are, particularly if your interactions were more than a year ago.


Your letter writer will be asked to submit their recommendation online. Please note that the reference letter is an online short-answer form, not a standard narrative letter. Be sure to send to send your letter writer an email with the recommendation link provided in your study abroad program application. 

Remember to also include the recommendation deadline, information about yourself and the study abroad program.

Make it a habit to follow up. 

There are three points in which you should follow up with your recommenders: 

  • Send a reminder a week before the recommendation is due, just to be sure.
  • Thank them for their support after your materials have been submitted. 
  • Keep them informed once you hear back, even if you were not successful with the application.

Remember, you are likely to apply for other things in the future and may well want their support again!