The Graduate School

Letters of Recommendation for Graduate Admission

About Letters of Recommendation

  • How important are letters of recommendation?
  • How many letters of recommendation do I need?
  • Whom should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
  • What information do my letter writers need from me?
  • How do my letters get to the university?


Please note: use of the electronic letter of recommenation forms requires an applicant sso id. This take about one week after you apply to be activated.

How important are letters of recommendation?
Almost every graduate program at UMSL requires letters of recommendation. Even those that don’t will often review letters sent voluntarily for additional insights into your potential to succeed as a graduate student beyond your grades and test scores.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?
Each program has slightly different requirements. Since students are admitted only if the program recommends them, applicants should check admission criteria established for each program. Please refer to the requirements list for doctoral and master's programs and graduate certificates for the number of letters the program requires or recommends.

Whom should I ask for letters of recommendation?
The best recommendations come from a reference

  • Who knows you professionally;
  • With the title of “Professor”;
  • Who has earned the degree that you are seeking;
  • With an advanced degree who has supervised you in a job or internship aligned; with the graduate program you are pursuing (e.g., Education, Social Work, Business Administration, etc.);
  • Who has academically evaluated you in an advanced class.

Note: letters from family friends, and political figures are discouraged and may even be detrimental.

What information do my letter writers need from me?
Send references a letter or email with the following information:

  1. Explain that you would appreciate it if they would write a letter of recommendation for your admission to the Graduate School at UMSL.
  2. Ask if they would be able to submit the letter by the due date (found in your program information).
  3. If they agree, request that they complete the form that they will receive via email after you submit the request.
  4. Tell them how to get in touch with you in case they need to reach you.
  5. Explain what you would like emphasized in their letter about you.
  6. Any other information that is relevant

Open and close your note with thanks and acknowledgement that your references’ time is valuable and that you appreciate that they’re taking their time to support your advanced study.

How do my letters get to the university?

As soon as you learn that your each reference agrees to write a letter for you, fill out the Letter of Recommendation Request Form. We’ll send an email directly to each reference with instructions for submitting the letter online.

If your recommenders prefer to submit a paper letter, please ask them to send letters directly to

University of Missouri - St. Louis
Graduate Admissions Office, Millennium Student Center
One University Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63121-4499

Please Note: Letters must come from recommenders only; Graduate Admissions will not accept letters submitted by applicants.