Letters of Recommendation

In support of each application, three letters of recommendation are required; up to five are accepted. These letters must be submitted electronically through the online application. Letters of recommendation as attachments to an email or by fax are not accepted.

The Division accepts confidential letters of recommendation submitted through Interfolio. Electronic delivery should be directed to the University of Chicago–Division of Social Sciences Graduate Admissions. To have letters submitted through Interfolio, enter the unique Interfolio email address in place of your recommender's email address in our application system. Once the request is received by Interfolio, log in to their system to approve the submission. After that is completed, Interfolio will upload your recommendation to your application, typically within 48 hours.

Special instructions for online letters of recommendation can be found in the “Recommendation” section of the online application.

Because of the highly specialized graduate training at UChicago, letters of recommendation from instructors at academic institutions are the most useful to the faculty reviewers. The best letters of recommendation are likely to be written by those instructors with whom you have had a long and successful working relationship. Before asking an instructor to write a recommendation, consider how long you have known that person, how many of their classes you have taken, whether you have been actively engaged in those classes, and whether you have produced lengthy papers or other significant projects for that person. Receiving a good grade in a class may not be enough to guarantee a strong or useful recommendation letter for the purpose of gaining admission to graduate school. Faculty admissions committees want to know what kind of professional colleague you are likely to become, what drives you intellectually, how you go about solving problems, and how committed you are to your goals.

The majority of the letters (i.e. at least two out of three) should come from instructors within the field to which you are applying. It is also acceptable to submit letters from individuals in related disciplines. For instance, those applying to Economics may submit a letter written by a Mathematics instructor, and those applying to Sociology may use a letter from a Statistics professor.

We also recognize that some applicants who have been away from school for a year or more may have trouble obtaining letters of recommendation from their former instructors. Many colleges and universities nowadays offer credential services that store letters of recommendation in perpetuity. We strongly advise applicants to make use of such services before leaving a particular school so that letters of recommendation are always available to them.

Additional Guidance for Letters to the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics:

It will be particularly helpful to the graduate admissions committee if the recommender can provide the following information, if applicable:

  • Rank the performance of the applicant in their class or program (e.g. 3rd of 23).
  • Compare the applicant to others with similar backgrounds who are applying or have recently applied to similar economics Ph.D. programs (e.g. the applicant is better than X who is attending University Y but not as good as Z who is also applying to UChicago).
  • If a recommender is writing letters for more than one applicant, compare and rank them as completely as possible.