Requesting Recommendations for Your Application to Professional Schools

Health professions schools typically expect you to submit four to six letters of recommendation in support of your application. Some schools insist on a committee letter from our Committee on the Health Professions. Your personal letters of recommendation should be from individuals who know you well, and can comment knowledgably about your suitability for a career in the health professions. Start early in identifying people you plan to ask to write on your behalf. The best choices are usually professors who have had you in one or more classes (be sure to include science courses), your academic advisor, and your internship and research mentors. On behalf of the Committee on the Health Professions, your committee letter writer will write a composite letter of recommendation as part of your file. The committee letter is a comprehensive summary of all aspects of your preparation, including course work, internships, research, entrance exam scores, and comments contained in your individual recommendation letters. The Pre-Health Office creates a document consisting of your individual letters and of your committee letter, which is then uploaded to your Interfolio account.  When this happens you will receive an email from the Pre-Health office with instructions telling you that the document is now in your Interfolio account and you must notify Interfolio to have them attach this document to your application.

Give your recommenders plenty of advance notice (at least eight weeks) when you request a recommendation letter.  Speak personally with the recommender (in person or by phone) when you make your request, and always provide them with enough information that they will find it easy to write a comprehensive letter for you.   ALL LETTERS MUST BE ON LETTERHEAD, DATED & SIGNED (electronic signature can be inserted on the letter) REMIND YOUR LETTER WRITER OF THIS INTIALLY and OFTEN because schools will not accept letters that are not formatted correctly. CALL 413-538-3389 OR EMAIL JACKIE IN THE PHO ONCE YOU RECEIVE NOTICE THAT A LETTER HAS POSTED TO YOUR INTERFOLIO ACCOUNT SO THAT SHE CAN CHECK THE LETTER TO ENSURE READY TO USE. This information includes:

  • An explanation of what kind of program you are applying to, and why you want to pursue this career.
  • A list of the schools you are applying to.
  • A copy of your resume and your transcript.
  • The specific date by which you need their letter.
  • It is polite and sometimes helpful to remind professors what class and what semester they had you as a student.
  • It is very appropriate to offer a little guidance to your recommender if there is a specific point you wish for him or her to address.  For example, “I’d really appreciate it if you would make a point to comment on my abilities handling large animals” or, “I’ve asked you to write for me because you know about the leadership and community service roles I’ve had.”

Mount Holyoke College has partnered with Interfolio, a secure, reliable online credential management system for managing your most important credentials online. Students need to create an Interfolio account in order to collect, manage, and distribute their letters of recommendation.   Using this link will automatically link your account to Mount Holyoke College.  If you do not use this link and simply go to their main page, then you will need to contact Interfolio and have them affiliate your account with Mount Holyoke College. You can email them at or call them at (877) 997-8807 from 9 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday.

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