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School of International Service Admissions

Grad Admissions FAQs: Letters of Recommendations

Who should write my recommendation letters? Do the letters of recommendation have to be from academic sources? What if I have been out of school for a number of years?
For the MA program, we require that at least one of your two letters of recommendation be from a faculty member who knows your work well. We do suggest, however, that both of your letters are from academic sources. We prefer to obtain information from recommenders who can evaluate your past academic performance and your potential for future academic challenges. Though letters from former or current employers are certainly welcome, we assume that your resume speaks for itself in terms of your professional skills and potential. Even if you have been out of school for some time, we still suggest that you obtain at least one academic letter of recommendation. For the MIS (mid-career executive) program, letters from professional sources are appropriate.

Can I submit more than the required number of recommendation letters?
If you would like to submit an additional letter, we will certainly add it to your file.

Can my recommenders submit their letters electronically?
We do not have an online process for submitting letters of recommendation.  If recommenders are unable to submit recommendations by mail, it is possible for them to submit the recommendations from a professional e-mail address (e.g. @american.edu, @peacecorps.gov) to sisgrad@american.edu. However, applicants should draft an e-mail, to our attention at the Office of Graduate Admissions, stating that they waive their right to view the letters.  This should be done in one e-mail that includes the names and contact information of the recommenders who will be submitting recommendations via e-mail.