For application to a PhD program, both undergraduate and graduate transcripts are required. If the master's GPA is pretty good but the bachelor's is low as the student was recovering from an health issue, how should the recommender address it in the letter? Usually, recommendation letters are very positive. So, I was wondering whether avoiding weak areas is preferable or is it better to address it and focus more on overcoming it and improving as a student? How to go about it while being positive and not detrimental to the student's chance of getting accepted? Also, do universities demand documentation for health issues?

  • 2
    Are you writing the letter, or are you a student worried about what your writer will write? Nov 1, 2021 at 19:39
  • And, if you are the writer, do you have direct experience with the student as an undergrad?
    – Buffy
    Nov 1, 2021 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


If you're writing the LOR for a student with a low GPA, let's assume it's because they at least did really well in your class, else there's not much point to the letter. In that case, if it were me, I would focus on their performance in my class and my own observations of their work with a lot of detail in support of my recommendation and put the best face on it I could. I would ignore the GPA (it's not a secret in their application anyway) but I might remark their performance was especially impressive given their serious health issues.

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