Monday, October 23, 2017

2018 Admissions Guideline: Letters of Recommendation

Here are some helpful answers to FAQs about letters of recommendation. Make sure you get a head start on these!


How many letters of recommendation do I need?

The Johns Hopkins SAIS application process requires two (2) letters of recommendation, but you can submit up to three letters of recommendation. It's up to you if you decide to submit 2 or 3.  Personally, I always think it's good to ask for 3 just in case one person forgets to submit a letter on time. The last thing you want is to stress over a missing letter even though you completed the application on time.

How do I submit my letters of recommendation?

All letters of recommendation are submitted electronically in our application portal. Having it submitted electronically instead of by snail mail makes it easier for our office, you, and the person writing your letter. Once you start working on your application, you can fill out the contact section for your referrals, and we will send them a link to where they can submit your letters.

Who should I ask for my letters of recommendation? 

Should they be professional, academic, or one of each? We don't have a preference for one type over another.  Rather than acquiring specific types of recommendations, you should look to solicit letters of recommendations from individuals who can best speak to your suitability as a international relations professional.  For those who have been out of school for a few years, that may mean all your recommendations are professional.  If you're younger, that might mean all your recommendations are academic in nature. That's okay. Just make sure you ask someone who can really speak well about your strengths for the program.

How should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

When you approach someone about writing a recommendation letter for you, make sure they know about the program.  Be prepared to tell them why Johns Hopkins SAIS interests you, and why it's a good fit for you.  If you want them to focus on specific items in the recommendation, make sure they know.  If you haven't seen this individual in some time, you may want to spend some time catching up and letting them know what you've been doing lately and what you plan to do after graduate school.  I always think it's a good idea to give a copy of your resume/CV to help them use as a reference while writing your letter.

You should also ask them well in advance.  You never know how many other people are asking them for letters of recommendation, and you need to give your recommender enough time to write a strong recommendation. Remember, they're doing you a favor, so make it a smooth process for them.

Can it be in another language?

Sadly, our office of Admissions does not speak every language in the world. Although this would be a nice skill to have, we ask that all letters of recommendation be in English. If your recommender does not speak English, he/she will need to get a translator, but we ask that your letters are in English.


Will I be able to see the letter of recommendation?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to see any of the letters since your recommender will submit it electronically through a separate link sent to them. However, you can see if they have submitted the letter through the application portal.


What if I am done with my application and I am only missing the letter of recommendation?

We strongly encourage students to get all of their documents ready prior to the deadline. If your referral did not write you a letter, you should reach out to them directly and send them a reminder. Chances are they might have forgotten in the midst of their other work, which happens. It wouldn't hurt to send a reminder, but make sure you're not over doing it by sending them emails after email. Last case, find another person to write your letter.


If you have any other questions, feel free to send us an email, tweet, or FB message!

Rebecca Chun
Admissions Coordinator