Anybody knows what degree of approval means in a letter of reference?

  • Emphatic
  • Conditional
  • Without concerns

My friend has a letter of reference from her former lecturer, but those options were left blank. Is that bad?

It's for a German scholarship, to do a PhD in Chemistry\Forensics.

  • Would you please clarify 1. What's the purpose of the reference letter? 2. Is your friend applying for graduate school? Or applying for something else?
    – Nobody
    Oct 19 '15 at 6:38

I would presume that what they're asking for is a tl;dr-style summary of your letter into a single sentence:

I emphatically recommend this candidate. I believe they will be top-quality students and practitioners.

I conditionally recommend. The candidate shows a lot of promise but I have these specific concerns; if thus-and-such happens then I would have no hesitations at all, but if it doesn't you might want to think twice.

I recommend without concerns. The candidate shows a lot of promise; they aren't someone whom I'm sure will be at or near the top of the class, but I have no doubt that they will perform very respectably.

  • @nateedridge: Not that I can see....?
    – keshlam
    Oct 19 '15 at 16:19
  • Huh. Either my eyes or my browser deceived me. Oct 19 '15 at 16:23
  • 1
    This is also my understanding, but the ordering of the options looks unusual to me. I would expect them to be ordered from strongest to weakest or in the opposite direction, but here it seems like the worst option is the middle one. Nov 11 '15 at 23:56
  • I seriously doubt that the order means anything more than "this is the order I happened to think of them in."
    – keshlam
    Nov 12 '15 at 0:39

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