Academic Reference Letter

At some point, you would be asked to submit an academic reference letter. When that time comes, it’s important you know about the academic reference letter or academic letter of recommendation.

A reference letter is an endorsement of a person’s skills and attributes, that is written by someone familiar with their work, character, and accomplishments. 

Reference letters are needed to apply for jobs, internships, volunteer positions, colleges, and graduate school programs.

An academic reference letter is one of the types of reference letters.

An academic reference letter is written by a counselor, college professor, high school teacher, or a vocational instructor for a student or graduate.

An academic reference letter is required for internship applications, job entry-level applications, college applications, scholarship applications, or training programs application.

Students can also use academic reference letters from teachers, instructors, or professors to make up for their lack of experience and attest to their academic achievements.

Article Road Map

What Is An Academic Reference Letter?

This letter comprises a student’s academic history, character, and academic or career goals in one or two pages.

 It includes a student’s report card or transcript and provides insight into the behavior of the applicant as a student.

The academic reference letter has to be authentic and portray the true character of the student.

An academic reference letter is submitted in sealed envelopes with the author’s signature on the seal.

Academic Reference Letter Request

Academic faculties in the institution where the student attended can give an academic reference letter.

Guidance counselors, teachers, school administrators, club organizers, coaches, and supervisors can write an academic reference letter for students because they have a close interaction with them.

If you are a student in need of an academic reference letter, you should ask a teacher you are confident in that will write good things about you aligning with the organization’s expectations.

When you ask your teachers for an academic letter of recommendation, request copies of your transcript from the registrar’s office. 

As a student, you can request for a general academic letter of recommendation to be used for several university admissions or job applications.

 But it’s best to address the academic reference letter to a specific university admissions office or a company’s human resources department.

Before you use someone for a reference, know if they will be willing to provide you with a good reference to help ensure that the recommendations you get are positive.

You may not have the opportunity to read what your recommender wrote about you so be very sure about it.

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Writing An Academic Reference Letter

These are steps to help you as you write an academic reference letter:

  1. Address the letter.

You should know who will be reading the letter so you can provide information relating to the program or organization. Know from the student to whom you are addressing the letter. If the student is applying for a specific position or school, then the address can be to the HR manager or admission officer. 

  1.  Introduction.

Write a paragraph or two with a brief introduction of yourself in the academic reference letter.

The introduction should include who you are, your relation to the applicant, your profession, and your expertise. Also, you should include how long you’ve known the student, your first impression of the student, and your general impression.

Be detailed in your qualifications and intention of writing the letter addressing the program or position you are recommending the student for.

This will make the reader addressed trust your recommendation.

  1. List out the student’s qualifications.

An academic letter should include details of your student’s time in school, achievements, activities, transcript, and CGPA to prove their academic abilities. You can discuss the following areas in your letter:

  • Extracurricular activities

The student may have been involved in clubs, sports, and other activities that make them good candidates. You can make a list of the extracurricular activities the student participated in.

You can select from these activities to express the skills and character traits the student developed. 

  • Awards or recognitions

The student may have participated in academic or creative competitions or they may have shown consistent academic excellence. 

You can discuss the awards they’ve won from the competitions or their consistent academic excellence to show the student’s abilities.

If the student participated in broadcasted competitions, name them accordingly.

  • Academic specialties

You should discuss the student’s area of expertise or subjects they’re passionate about.

You should be able to persuade the reader that the student is genuinely interested in the position or program they’re applying for.

  • Attitude and perspective

You should include details about the student’s positive character traits.

 Workplaces and universities value people with a positive attitude because it boosts morale and improves working environments or academic relationships. 

  • Demonstration of improvement

Remember to describe your student’s ambitions, and discuss how they improved in the classroom or completed a named project successfully. 

These qualifications can be an added advantage to the student and demonstrate that the student works toward goals that will help the organizations grow.

  1. Describe a situation where the student impressed you.

While discussing the student’s character and skills, use specific anecdotes that will help the organization understand the student’s personality, drive, and abilities. 

Describe a peculiar situation of the student that impressed you, the actions they took to solve the situation and the results of the student’s actions. 

By doing this, you are demonstrating the student’s ability to solve issues, identify opportunities,  and take steps to complete the task or improve the situation. 

  1. End the letter with a particular recommendation.

You can make your recommendation letter more effective by relating the student’s qualifications to the organization to which they’re applying. 

In the final section of the recommendation letter, state specifically that you recommend the student, and highlight contributions that they will add to the organization.

  1. Provide your contact information.

At the end of the recommendation letter, make sure to include your contact information and offer to provide additional information that may be required or needed. 

This allows the reader to get a better understanding of the student, and it gives you an opportunity to be an even better advocate for the student.

Academic Reference Letter Examples

Below are examples of academic recommendation letters and templates.

  1. This is an example of a general academic reference letter template

Name of recommender

Full address



Name of the recipient


To Whom It May Concern,

Paragraph 1: the recommender should introduce themselves, state the reason for writing the letter and their relationship with the applicant

Paragraph 2: State the capabilities, skills, achievements, and traits of the applicant.

Paragraph 3: Conclusion stating why the recommender thinks the employers should consider the applicant based on the skills possessed by the applicant and the skills required by the employer.

Contact information of the recommender


Signature (hard copy letter)

Name of recommender

Official capacity or title

The institution they work for

  1. This is an example of a specific academic reference letter from a teacher

Susan Samuels

123 Main Street

Anytown, CA 12345


[email protected]

May 19, 2021

Franklin Lee

Department Chair Communications

Acme University

123 Business Street

Business City, NY 54321

Dear Ms. Jones:

I am writing this reference at the request of Katie Kingston, who is applying for the Summer Communications Program at Acme University.

I have known Katie for two years in my capacity as a teacher at Smithtown Middle School. Katie took English and Spanish from me and earned superior grades in those classes. Based on Katie’s grades, attendance, and class participation, I’d rate Katie’s academic performance in my class as superior.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend Katie Kingston for this academic program. If her performance in my class is any indication of how she will succeed, Katie will be a positive addition to the program. If you should need any additional information, you can feel free to contact me at 555-555-5555 or by email at [email protected] anytime.


Signature (hard copy letter)

Susan Samuels


Smithtown Middle School

Hope this article has provided all the information you need for the academic reference letter.

Have a great day.

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