WWS Blog

2018 Application Countdown, Part 1 - Letters of Recommendation

Dec 4, 2017

The Dec. 15 deadline to submit MPA, MPP and Ph.D. applications for Fall 2018 is quickly approaching. The admissions office will post short reminders of what applicants should include as they complete their applications. Check back for more reminders and tips.

 Letters of Recommendation

By virtue of the small class sizes of the MPA, MPP, and Ph.D. cohorts, admission to each program is competitive; in crafting a diverse class each year, it becomes necessary to turn away even qualified candidates. Outstanding letters of recommendation are often the key to success as they can provide perspective breadth and depth into the character, qualification and fit of an applicant.

Three letters of recommendation are required for each of the degree programs. For applicants to the MPA program, we recommend one academic reference, one professional reference and a third reference of your choice. The third letter may be another academic or professional letter; it is usually most helpful to have a reference who can speak to your commitment to public service –an important component that should not be overlooked in the application.

Don’t chase references with lofty titles because you think their position is impressive to us … we don’t care. We want to see sincere letters from faculty, administrators and professionals with whom you’ve worked and who know you. Educate your references on the program at WWS; let them know why you are applying here specifically and your plans post-graduation; show them your résumé and/or personal statement, this will allow them to write well-informed letters.

The same advice applies to MPP applicants; however, we recommend two professional letters and one academic letter. The “academic” letter should come from a professor or even a professional who can attest to your ability to contribute to an academically rigorous quantitative program.

Ph.D. applicants: you will want to select faculty who can comment on your research skills and academic strengths and abilities, as well as your inclination to contribute to new research in meaningful ways in the future. If you have work experience, professional references can be useful in evaluating accomplishments and milestones made with organizations and in research.

Check back for the next application tip!

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