how to ask for a letter of recommendation for medical school by email

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation for Medical School by Email

The process to becoming a physician is not an easy one. You have to work hard in school, pass the MCATs, and get good grades. But how do you go about asking for a letter of recommendation for medical school by email? This post will teach you how to ask respectfully and appropriately so that your request can be met with success.

Why do medical school letters of Recommendation matter?

Getting into medical school is tough, and having great letters of recommendation in the medical school application process can make all the difference.

Make sure you ask for a letter of recommendation at the appropriate time.

Asking your professor too early can put them off and make it more difficult to get what you need.

Make sure that they know why you are asking for the letter, so that they do not think it is spam or some mistake on their part.

Medical school admission committees really want to see that you have formed good and strong relationships with other people, and they want to see what those people thought of you.

Don’t take this process lightly, this is a super important part of getting into medical school, and it can make all the difference in you getting in or not getting in.

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation for Medical School by Email

Having great medical school letters of recommendation allows the admissions committee to get a sense of who you are coming from someone that has no stake in the process of you getting into medical school.

Ultimately, they are a fantastic way for people in med school to get to know you.

How to ask your Letter Writers

This is a common concern and something that many people struggle with.

Make sure you ask for the letter of recommendation well in advance, but not too far ahead either or it will make your professor feel like they are being taken advantage off and rushed into doing something.

Asking them politely is important as well, don’t just email them calling yourself their favorite student, especially if that is not true

It may seem like a good idea at the time to get up on your high horse and go into professor mode, but it will just make them feel uncomfortable.

Be polite, be respectful of their time, and ask for what you need in an appropriate way!

You don’t want them thinking they are some sort of task, and you want them to know why you are asking for this letter.

Be clear with your professor about what is happening in the process of applying to medical schools, so they can understand where their letter fits into that big puzzle!

Make sure it’s appropriate as well; don’t ask some random person on the street who happens to be a physician.

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation for Medical School by Email

Make sure the professor knows that you are asking because of your good relationship with them and what they think about you as well!

They should know why you are asking, so make it clear in the email without taking too much time or making things awkward between yourselves.

It is a great idea, that if you are going to ask for this via email that you have taken the time to get to know this person far in advance.

I personally think that asking in person is a much better idea than trying to ask over email.

If you really want to ask through email though, then be sure that you are:

  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • To the point
  • Not arrogant
  • Tell them why you think they can write you a strong letter
  • Tell them about your interests
  • Remind them of experiences that you have had with them

Who to ask for letters

It can be tough to decide who you want to ask for your medical school recommendation letters from.

You really want to choose your letter writer(s) carefully. This can make all the difference.

Most medical schools require a physician letter, (DO if applying to Osteopathic school) Non-Science letter, Science letter, and committee letters.

These are the people you need to ask to write you a medical school letter of recommendation.

You want to approach the ones that you know will write you a strong letter, and not just the ones that are easy to ask.

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation for Medical School by Email

Don’t take this process lightly; it’s super important for getting into medical school!

Mostly importantly make sure they feel comfortable writing your letter of recommendation, don’t push them or rush them if they say no either- be respectful of their time.

Don’t feel like you need to get all of your letters from professors, some people may have more appropriate recommendations than others! This is not up for debate; this is just the way it works so don’t take offense if someone doesn’t write you a letter- there are many reasons why they might be unwilling or unable to write you a strong letter of recommendation.

Make sure they understand what is happening in your process, so that when the time comes to write it they know why! This way there are no awkward pauses or confusion about things either.

You don’t want someone writing you a bad letter just because they didn’t have all of this information in advance.

It’s a good idea to get letters from people you know and trust, rather than just anyone that is willing.

You want people who can attest to your skills and strengths, rather than just writing you a letter because they like you as a person.

How do you ask for a strong letter of recommendation

There are a few steps to follow when it comes to making sure your letters of recommendation are strong, and not just generic.

These steps are to ensure you know the person well, make sure they can attest to your strengths, and you can outright ask them if they feel like they can write you a strong letter.

Step 1: This is really important because there are some people that you just don’t know well enough to ask them for a letter of recommendation.

Do your research! If you know someone is a great letter writer, then go for it!

If not, find another person to ask that will write you an amazing letter of recommendation.

Step 2: Finding someone that can attest to your strengths means you’ve done the research and taken time to find someone that knows you well enough.

You want them to be able to write a strong letter of recommendation because they know your strengths, rather than just telling your stories (which is okay too but not as powerful).

Step 3: Making sure you know the person is a given, because you’d be surprised how many people don’t pay attention to this.

Take the time throughout the semester to really get to know the professor you plan on asking for a letter.

Make sure you and them have done research together, you have spent time in their office during office hours, and that they know who you are as opposed to just another student in their class.

The last part is simply asking them if they think they can write a good strong letter for you.

I did this during my pre-med years and there was one professor that ultimately said, no he doesn’t think he would be able to write me a quality letter.

I was frustrated at the time, but honestly this saved me a lot of hassle because then I didn’t have to explain a poor letter, or worry about how generic that letter might be.

Making sure you have done these three steps is so important!

How many letters do you need

You need:

  • Science professors letter
  • non science professor Letter
  • Physician Letter
  • Some schools require a research letter as well.

There is also sometimes a committee letter requirement, but this is easy to get.

If you plan on getting at least 4 letters of recommendation in those categories then you will be ready.

Having these four letters will give you the best chance at getting into medical school.

You need to make sure that these letters are thoughtful and show your strengths, if not then they won’t be as helpful when it comes time for admissions committees to review them!

Don’t forget to thank people in each letter of recommendation because this means a lot- especially if you receive an interview.

The more letters you have the better, but for sure make sure your four are strong and thoughtful!

How to ask someone for a letter of recommendation

Asking for medical school letters of recommendation is fairly simple and straightforward.

Hopefully you have gotten to know the professors and they are aware that you are in the process of working on medical school applications.

Approach them during office hours, so they have time to sit and talk with you.

Tell them about your intentions on applying to medical school, and where you would like to attend med school.

Also, let them know that you have gotten to know them over the time there and you think they have the ability to write you a good letter of recommendation.

Then simply ask them if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation for medical school.

If you sense any hesitation in their response, let them know that it is okay if they don’t think they can do this for you.

You want to let them know that you aren’t trying to force them into it, especially if they don’t think they can.

Another nice thing to have with is your personal statement. Sometimes letter writers will ask for your personal statement because it helps give them a sense of the important things to you and why you want to become a doctor.

What is a strong letter of Recommendation

A strong letter of recommendation is one that is thoughtful, discusses your strengths and why you are a good candidate for medical school.

It should clearly explain the reasons they recommend you for this program or that one, not just because of “personal experience”.

The letter shouldn’t be generic either- it needs to show their personal knowledge about what makes you tick as well!

A generic letter of recommendation might not show the admissions committee what they need to know about you.

A thoughtful, specific and strong letter is one that will get your application noticed!

If you have good rapport with the letter writer and provide them with reasons why you want to go to medical school, they should be able to write a thoughtful, strong letter for you.

It is also important to follow up with the professor that wrote your letters of recommendation after they are sent out!

Make sure he or she knows where it was mailed and when you expect to hear back about if it arrived okay. This way there’s no confusion, especially during busy times of the year.

The Non science letter of recommendation medical school

The non science professor letter is important to medical school applications, but sometimes it’s not as difficult to get.

If you have a non science professor that knows you well and is willing to write the letter then this shouldn’t be too hard for you.

This letter is important because the admissions committee wants to see that you are well rounded and that you have what it takes to succeed in other educational disciplines as well.

Making sure your letter of recommendation is thoughtful, specific and strong will help you get noticed by admissions committees!

Can the letter of recommendation be emailed?

Typically no.

Letters should not be emailed because most of the time you, as the applicant has waived your right to view the letter. If the letter writer sends it to you via email, and you view it then you are being dishonest.

Letters are typically sent straight to AMCAS or to another service such as Interfolio, that then allows you to send it to schools individually or to AACOMAS then to schools.

Are you allowed to read your letters of recommendation?

Technically no.

When you send your letters to medical schools, there is a box that you are supposed to check, don’t have to, but you should that says you waive your right to see the letters.

Some students are occasionally asked to write their own letters, and I guess in that situation if you check that box on the application then you are being dishonest, but that is completely your choice.

How are Medical school letters of recommendation sent to schools

This is typically done either straight through AMCAS, AACOMAS, or through a service like Interfolio.

Most schools will list on their website what method they prefer the letters to be sent to them, so this can be a fairly easy process for you to figure out.


Alright, this article covered a lot of material!

Hopefully you feel more comfortable about asking for a letter of recommendation via email or if you decided not to do that then you may have found another few ways to go about getting your letters of recommendation for medical school.

Let me know in the comments what other concerns you have about letter of recommendation for medical school.

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