Recommendation FAQ

What is the best way to request letters of recommendation from faculty?

Let the faculty member know the purpose of the letter, give him/her any materials that might be helpful and enough time to write the letter, and don’t be afraid to follow up if a deadline is approaching. Feel free to email Abby if you have questions about strategies or logistics. The OCS Letter of Recommendation page also has some helpful tips.

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What is the benefit of having recommendations kept on file in the House?

The House dossier service is a great way to “bank” recommendations as you take courses, i.e., before professors forget who you are. If you decide to apply to a different program or want a more updated recommendation a few years from now, we can always send the old letter back to the faculty member for a revision.

Note: You would need to complete a new waiver form for each version of the letter.

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I am applying to a program with online recommendation forms. Can you submit my letters to a website?

Yes. Provided the website does not specify that the letters are uploaded by the author, we can upload a PDF of your recommendation letters and complete basic information. However, for more detailed electronic recommendations involving short answer questions, ranking systems, radio buttons, etc., you should contact faculty members directly.

Non-comprehensive list of organizations to which we cannot upload dossier letters:

  • Columbia SIPA
  • Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • ...
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