Stories about your behaviors, impact, and personal qualities told by others play an essential role in our evaluation of your application.
Your letters of reference should provide specific examples and anecdotes that illustrate what you have done and how you have done it.
Required: Two letters of reference. One reference from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work, and one reference from someone else who has supervised you.
Both letters of reference must be submitted by the deadline of the round in which you apply. You must not have any involvement in the drafting, writing, translation, or submission of the letters, including having any outside party review the letters before they are submitted.
Choosing Your Recommenders
We are impressed by what a reference letter says, not by the title or background of the individual who wrote it or the writing skills of the recommender. You should choose individuals who:
- Know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last three years
- Will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions
- Are sufficiently enthused to spend time writing a thoughtful letter
If you are currently a full-time student, we encourage you to select recommenders who have supervised your extracurricular activities or work, such as internships or part-time jobs.
A Few Words of Advice
More Is Not Better
While we know there are people excited about you who may want to submit unofficial letters of reference, additional letters are neither necessary nor encouraged. The overwhelming majority of successful applicants do not submit any additional materials. If someone submits an additional letter of reference, we will do our best to add it to your application. However, we cannot guarantee it will be considered.
Language for Recommendations
Your letters of reference must be submitted in English. For references from non-native English speakers, we will ignore minor syntax or grammar errors or awkward phrasing. However, it may be to your advantage to have your recommender write the letter in his/her native language and then have it translated into English.
Their Words, Not Yours
Do not write your own letter of reference; it is improper and a violation of the terms of the application process. If your recommender asks you to write your own letter, find a different recommender.