Letters of Recommendation

What are the guidelines for letters of recommendation?


Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • must be written in English
  • on official letterhead of the writer’s organization or institution whenever possible
  • include the writer’s signature/name and organization
  • range from 500 to 1,500 words


Letters should reference the Penn Engineering Online program you are applying to and cannot be reused from a different program.

Letters should be written by individuals who have evaluated the applicant and can write objectively about their aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting. Please note- recommenders should not be friends or family members.

The Questionnaire:

You can answer the questionnaire by interpreting the questions through an industry lens. For example, instead of “How many students do you supervise?”, you can answer as if the question was, “How many employees do you supervise?”, etc. You can also leave the questionnaire section blank.

Due Date:

All letters of recommendation are due by the application deadline. Late letters of recommendation will not be considered and may disqualify the applicant from the admissions process. Please be mindful of the application deadlines!

Can I reuse letters of recommendation from previous applications?

Your letters should focus specifically on your qualifications for MCIT Online or MSE-DS Online, so we encourage you not to reuse letters from a different program.  If you’re reapplying, your recommenders may resubmit the previously written letters with your new application.


Can I send my recommendation letters via email or mail?

No, letters of recommendation must be submitted online through the application portal.

Do letters of recommendation need to be submitted by the application deadline?

Yes. All required documents, including a minimum of two letters of recommendation, must be submitted by the application deadline.

Would it be helpful to have more than two letters?

Yes, while we only require two letters, we recommend asking three people to write such letters in case one of the letters does not arrive before the deadline. The more evidence you can provide that you will succeed, the better.

How should my references format my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation should be written according to the following guidelines:

  • written in English
  • include the writer’s name, organization and signature
  • range anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words

For additional instructions and guidelines, please review Application Instructions: How to Navigate Letters of Recommendation on our website.

What is the process for getting letters of recommendation?

As part of the online application, you’ll provide contact information for your references. The system will then send each reference a unique link to the application portal, where they will upload their letter. Letters submitted by your recommenders will be automatically attached to your application even after you have submitted it. Please note that at least two recommendations must be received by the deadline in order for your application to be considered.

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me?

Your letters of recommendation should be written by people who have evaluated you and can write objectively about your aptitudes and capabilities in an academic or work setting – for example, current or former advisors, instructors or supervisors. 

The title or position of the recommender is not as important as his/her ability to comment knowledgeably and specifically about you. If you do not have an academic reference or direct supervisor, consider clients (if you own a business), military personnel or community leaders.

Do I need to wait until my letters of recommendation are in to submit my application?

No! We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. However, please note that an application is not considered complete and ready for review until at least two letters of recommendation have been submitted.

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