Letter of Recommendation Guidelines

The letters kept on file in the Pre-Professional Advising are intended only for colleges of dentistry, medicine (MD & DO), optometry, podiatry, veterinary medicine, or Post-Bacc Enrichment programs. Applicants who want their letters to be sent to other graduate schools, professional programs or scholarship programs will need to get the permission of their recommenders.

All letters of recommendation should be accompanied by the form below.  Please remind your recommenders that health professions schools will not accept handwritten letters. The letter should be typed and signed. (We can not accept digital signatures at this time.)  Letterhead is also preferred.  The letters can be sent by email (scanned signed document), mail or by fax.

Who should I get my letters from?

  • You should have at least two letters from science professors who have taught you.
  • If you have done research it is a very good idea to obtain a letter from your research supervisor. (Keep in mind that if you are interested in an MD/PhD program, you should get two or more research letters.)
  • If you are applying to Osteopathic schools, some schools require a letter from a DO.
  • If you are interested in going into veterinary medicine, you need to get letters from all the animal-related venues where you have worked or volunteered (veterinary clinics, animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation, etc.).

The following are other possible people you may ask for letters of recommendation:

  • a professor in your major department
  • a professor from an upper level science, math, or major course
  • a professor who taught you a humanities or literature course
  • a professor from a course that you just plain enjoyed and did well in
  • doctors, dentists, optometrists, veterinarians and other health care professionals 

Can I ask for letters of recommendation now even though I am not ready to apply?
Yes! You can get letters as early as possible.  If you can get a good letter of recommendation in your freshmen and/or sophomore year and you don't think your recommender will remember you as well when you are ready to apply, you can ask them now.  
We will keep letters on file for five years from the last activity date on your file.

Do you have to get letters from professors in all of these categories?
No! Might you? Yes. The Faculty Committee has set a minimum of three letters of recommendation. There is no maximum. The bottom line is this: if you believe that you can get a good letter of recommendation, ask for it. 

If I transferred into Stony Brook from another school, should I get letters from my first school?
Yes, you should if you can.

Can I get letters of recommendation from teaching assistants?
Yes, if you believe that the TA knows you well and you can get a quality letter from him or her. 
Please note: letters of recommendation from teaching assistants and graduate assistants should be countersigned by a supervising professor.

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