Collecting Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are important parts of your application package. These objective evaluations can reveal important aspects of your candidacy, including your character, professional demeanor, commitment to a health profession, and distance traveled.

Health professions programs usually ask for four to six letters of recommendation. The number of letters and requirements for evaluator roles varies among schools, you need to be familiar with the specifics. Oxy does not provide a committee/composite letter or a letter packet, you will be submitting individual letters, and It is your responsibility to monitor letter completion status and to follow-up on missing letters.

Who Should You Ask?

Choose your letter writer strategically. The following combination of letter writers should provide a balanced picture of you as a well-rounded applicant: 

  • Faculty members who taught you at Oxy and know you well including your academic achievements, your interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, your background, and future goals. Medical school usually asks for two science faculty and one humanity/social science faculty.
  • Other members of the Oxy community with whom you have had frequent and positive interactions: athletic, special projects, campus employment, etc. 
  • A health professional whom you shadowed or worked with (MD, DO, DPM, PA, nurse, etc) who can attest your fit to the profession.
  • Others with whom you had professional relationships: director of a community program where you volunteered, a supervisor from any other employment, a lab manager of a research project, etc. 
  • DO NOT obtain letters from anyone with whom you do not have any working relationships (e.g., your relatives, personal physicians, family friends, etc.). 

How do You Ask?

  • Ask early. A thoughtful letter takes time to write plus your letter writers may have a busy schedule. Ask before March 1st so that your letters will be ready in early July.  
  • Provide sufficient material. Email your letter writers your resume, transcript, personal statement, your assignments/research projects, and your applicant profile. These supportive materials will help your letter writers compose a compelling letter with details and examples.
  • Schedule to meet with your letter writers. Either virtual or in-person, this meeting provides an opportunity for you to share your narrative, your distance traveled, and your commitment to a health profession. 
  • Guide your letter writers with the AAMC resources. When communicating with your letter writer, highlight your strengths and core competencies which you hope to be addressed. 
  • Provide clear instructions. Make sure that your letter writers include an official letterhead and a signature, and specify how many pages are required. Inform your letter writers that your official request will be emailed to them from either the AMCAS Letter Service or Letters by Liaison, depending on the program to which you are applying. Confirm with your recommenders that they received the email notification. They may need to check their junk or spam folders.
  • Remind, follow-up, and say thank-you. Gently remind your letter writers about the upcoming deadline, send follow-up emails about recent job changes, updates, research outcomes, etc. Foster relationships with your letter writers, stay in touch, and enclose thank-you notes--they’d be happy to learn about your next chapter!

Medical, Dental, and Podiatric Schools

Medical School Applicants (AMCAS for M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. programs)
Medical School Applicants (AACOMAS for D.O. and D.O./Ph.D. programs) 
  • Evaluators will submit letters electronically via Letters by Liaison
  • A maximum of six letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your programs. 
  • A letter of recommendation from a D.O. who you have shadowed is strongly recommended, as it demonstrates your interest in learning about the D.O. philosophy.
  • AACOMAS Evaluations - information for applicants
Dental School Applicants (AADSAS) 
  • Evaluators will submit letters electronically via Letters by Liaison
  • A maximum of four letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your programs. 
  • AADSAS Evaluations - information for applicants and letter writers
Podiatric School Applicants (AACPMAS) 
  • Evaluators will submit letters electronically via Letters by Liaison.
  • A maximum of three letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your programs. 
  • A letter of recommendation from a D.P.M. who you have shadowed is strongly recommended.
  • AACPMAS Evaluations - information for applicants

Other Health Professions Programs

Nursing School Applicants (NursingCAS and non-NursingCAS) 
  • Within NursingCAS, letters of recommendation can be submitted under the References section. The References tab is only available for certain programs that require you to submit references. All references can be submitted electronically by references using Letters by Liaison.
  • NursingCAS References - information for applicants
  • For non-NursingCAS schools, follow the specific instructions provided by each school.
Occupational Therapy School Applicants (OTCAS) 
  • All evaluations can be submitted electronically by evaluators using Letters by Liaison.
  • At least three but a maximum of five letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your programs. 
  • OTCAS Evaluations - information for applicants
Optometry School Applicants (OptomCAS) 
Pharmacy School Applicants (PharmCAS) 
  • Evaluators (letter writers) must submit evaluations (a.k.a. letters of reference or recommendations) to PharmCAS online via the Letters by Liaison Evaluator Portal. Evaluators will complete a two-part process:
    • Part I: Complete questions and evaluation ratings via the Evaluator Portal.
    • Part II: Upload letter of reference via the Evaluator Portal.
  • A maximum of four letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your designated programs, if the program requires them. 
  • Refer to the Pharm.D. Directory. Each school profile will indicate the acceptable evaluation types.
  • Since all evaluations are sent to every school you designate, evaluators should avoid referring to any specific pharmacy school or individual in the letter.
  • PharmCAS Evaluations - information for applicants
Physical Therapy School Applicants (PTCAS) 
  • All references can be submitted electronically by references using Letters by Liaison.
  • A maximum of five letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your designated programs.
  • A letter of recommendation from a D.P.T. who you have shadowed/observed is strongly recommended.
  • Refer to the official list of DPT programs. Each school profile will indicate the acceptable evaluation types.
  • PTCAS References - information for applicants
Physician Assistant School Applicants (CASPA)
  • All references can be submitted electronically by references using Letters by Liaison.
  • At least three but a maximum of five letters can be uploaded. Send any additional evaluations directly to your designated programs.
  • A letter of recommendation from a licensed P.A. who you have shadowed/observed is strongly recommended.
  • Within CASPA, the Evaluations tab is only available for certain programs that require you to submit evaluations. 
  • Refer to the PAEA Program Directory. Each school profile will indicate the acceptable evaluation types.
  • CASPA Evaluations - information for applicants
Veterinary School Applicants (VMCAS)
  • All recommendations can be submitted electronically by recommenders using Letters by Liaison.
  • A minimum of three but a maximum of six letters can be uploaded. Recommenders must meet the application deadline set by VMCAS. No exceptions are possible.
  • VMCAS requires three recommendations to be submitted prior to releasing your application for transcript verification.
  • A letter of recommendation from a veterinarian who you have worked for or shadowed/observed is strongly recommended.
  • Refer to the Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements. Each school profile will indicate the acceptable evaluation types.
  • VMCAS Recommendations - information for applicants

Interfolio - For Future Cycle Applicants

  • Interfolio’s Dossier Service - The FREE option is recommended, if you are not ready to apply to medical or health profession programs this cycle, but want to securely store your letters from faculty and other writers. Your letter writers can upload their confidential letters to your FREE Interfolio account until you’re ready to send them off. If you choose to upgrade your account to Dosier Deliver, the annual fee is $48 for 50 deliveries.

  • How to: Use Dossier Deliver for a medical or dental school application - instructions are provided for AMCAS, AACOMAS, an individual DO school, TMDSAS, and AADSAS. As protocol may change from one application cycle to the next, verify with the official application service you plan to use, and if they continue to accept letters from Interfolio.