Letters of Recommendation
One of the most important parts of a student’s application is the letters of recommendation from faculty they have worked with closely in research or clinical activities. To help faculty write the strongest letter possible, students are advised to provide faculty letter writers with their CV and personal statement, and Letter of Recommendation request form.
General Applications Requirements
Letters of Recommendation must be uploaded via the ERAS Letter of Recommendation Portal (LoRP) in the ERAS system by September 15th of each year.
Many programs require that one of the letters be a Department/Chair letter from the corresponding department on campus. Students applying in specialties that require a Chair’s letter should contact their respective specialty career advisor for information about their respective specialty process.
Faculty Guidelines for Letter Writing & Submission
- Limit your letter to one or two pages.
- Explain how you know the applicant and your relationship. Do you know this applicant from an academic, clinical or research setting? State how long have you known the applicant and how well.
- Tailor your letter. Give the reader a sense of the applicant’s potential as a future physician, as well as in other areas on which you can comment (e.g., research, advocacy, their chosen specialty). Specific areas to comment on include: intellectual ability; analytical skills; attitude toward learning; communication skills; initiative, motivation, and persistence; and personal achievements.
- Be specific. Give specific examples of your observation of the student, or stories about your experiences with them that reflect his/her potential, professionalism, clinical acumen, interpersonal and leadership skills, passion for medicine, etc.
- Avoid personal remarks and implicit bias. Please review Strategies for Avoiding Bias. Do not mention age, race/ethnicity, marital status, children, physical characteristics, or other personal attributes. If you believe this is an important factor in demonstrating the applicant’s performance and potential, ask the student if they want that information included in the letter.
- Conclude with an overall recommendation. Indicate how well qualified the student is for residency and as a future physician. Indicate whether you would select this applicant for a residency program.
- Add that you welcome requests for information. Include your contact information if it is not already included on the letterhead.
- Carefully proofread your letter. Pay particular attention to the spelling of the applicant’s name. If you are using a template, ensure that you have changed the name throughout the letter.
Format & Submission Instructions
- Address the letter, “Dear Program Director”
- Include the student’s AAMC ID number somewhere on the letter
- Ensure you have spelled the name of the applicant correctly throughout the letter
- Sign the letter, either by signing a printed copy and scanning, or adding an image of your signature to the letter
- Put the letter on official letterhead. If you do not have letterhead, be sure to include your current contact information
- Save the letter as a PDF file
- Letter writers, or their designees, must upload letters in PDF format via the ERAS Portal. The applicant should provide you with a Letter Request Form, which will include a unique identifying number for your letter, as well as instructions for uploading
Questions & Resources
For information and frequently asked questions about the ERAS LoRP, please consult the following:
For other questions related to LoR submission for UCSF medical students' residency applications, please email Cha Viloria, or call her at (415) 476-8084*Guidelines adapted from Gross Davis B. Writing Letters of Recommendation. In: Tools for Teaching (1993). 1st Ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass; 1993:407-412.