I asked a chemistry professor if she could provide a reference for a masters program. I took a course with her in Fall 2021 and although I did well in the course I don't know her well and have hardly interacted with her, other than occasionally asking her questions during lectures, office hours or by email. When I contacted her to ask if she could write a recommendation letter she agreed but asked me to write a letter detailing our interactions. What could I write in the letter?

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    I don't see much you could write. Telling her about your accomplishments or your experience in the course doesn't address what she specifically asked you, to detail your interactions with her. Many students would have worked hard and done well in the course. It's probably better to ask for a reference from a professor you know better.
    – user156129
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


Your question suggests that she's asking that you write a letter to her giving the information she'll need for the LOR to the masters program; most of what's below is also applicable for a job recommendation. Such a letter should contain:

  • Tell her what the deadline is and how to submit the letter!
  • Include your student number or other identifier and your name as you have applied for the program.
  • Remind her which of her classes you have taken, and when.
  • How did you distinguish yourself in that class?
  • How would you describe yourself? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? She is going to have to answer those questions when she writes your reference, so the more details the better, but these have to be things she has observed herself.
  • What are some of your academic and nonacademic accomplishments that she may not remember?
  • What makes her particularly qualified to write a letter for you? That is, why should the recipient of the letter value it over a letter from someone else?

She might appreciate it if your letter to her could be easily transformed into the LOR.

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    One very important one missing from the list is what do you want to do next?... a letter writer has to recommend you for something, it's helpful if they know what for. Sure, a masters program, but a letter is going to read better if it's in sync with all your other career goals.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 23:48

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