Suppose, a BSc in Computer Science student has been doing online freelancing for the last 10 years. The teachers who knew him in his undergrad school are either retired, or dead, or doesn't have any contact with him.

Where can he collect recommendation letters if he wants to get enrolled in a graduate school?

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    What do you mean by "online freelancing"? Like, making websites for others? Anyway, most letters would accept letter of recommendation if those who wrote them were in contact with you in the last 2 years maximum Nov 14, 2020 at 2:24
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    Is this for masters or doctoral level admissions? Much harder for the latter.
    – Buffy
    Oct 12, 2022 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


Whenever an admissions-related question pops up of the kind “The application form has these boxes but I don’t fit into any box” the first recommended step is generally the same. Ask the institution in question.

The admissions people - I am speaking here of the administrators rather than the ultimate decision-makers - have seen it all before. They have almost certainly come across cases like yours and they can advise you about what is needed.

I don’t mean that they’ll say “Here is how to get a recommendation letter”. That would certainly be your job. But they may well say “The reasons we ask for recommendation letters are X and Y, and in cases like yours, evidence for X and Y can best be obtained as follows:“

Admissions office people love doing this because it gives them a chance to apply their experience and expertise to an interesting problem.

Just remember that none of this is addressing “How do I get them to admit me?”. It is addressing “How do I help them to make the right decision about admission?”. That is in everyone’s interest, yours as well as theirs.


Freelance workers can get reference letters from clients who are repeat customers over many years. Business partners could also write letters. If you are participant in any industry organizations, colleagues in those organizations could write letters.

If you do not have any of those relationships, you probably cannot get a letter without forming new relationships.

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