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SLP Grad School Application Review

A general consultation for wherever you are

Copy of Beige and Green Minimalism Lifes

SLP Grad School Application Review

A general consultation for wherever you are

Copy of Beige and Green Minimalism Lifes

SLP Grad School Application Review

A general consultation for wherever you are

How to ask for letters of recommendation

Updated: Oct 22, 2021




There is quite a bit of advice out there on the internet about SLP grad school recommendation letters, so I wanted to create one comprehensive resource for you to look at as you put your unique plan together. Here, I’ll discuss pertinent information for CSD undergraduates, out-of-major applicants, out-of-major students taking levelling courses, and career change applicants.




The steps you'll take to ask for your recommendations will differ depending on your background as a student. To make this guide easier to navigate, skip ahead to the profile that best matches you.



I'm working on mp3 players for my auditory learners here (will update when complete):



Don't waste your time searching for what you want. You can press Control+F on Windows or Command+F on Mac to help you skip to your section.

Let's get started!



You’re a CSD Undergraduate Student reading this 1-3 years before you apply, and you know it is never too early to start thinking about who to ask for recommendation letters. If you’re planning on applying this year, skip to step #2.


As you attend CSD courses, you’ll want to make sure to develop close professional relationships with your professors. At most larger universities, you’ll notice that the tenured research MS-SLP professors rarely teach undergraduate classes.


If you can, enroll in courses taught by professors in the program. If this is not possible, a way to ensure that you’ll have developed a relationship with a full-time CSD professor by the time you graduate is by asking your other instructors if they’re involved with research.


Hear me out: from personal experience, instructors and associate professors are usually master’s or doctoral students that are involved with research themselves. They can let you know about openings in labs and put in a good word for you as well.
I was able to enroll in a lab for credit because one of my instructors is a doctoral student and co-leader on a research project!

You'll want to make sure that your recommendations come from professors who have had a chance to get to know you in a variety of academic settings.


In addition to seeking out research opportunities, make sure that you make your presence known in classes. If you're a wallflower like me, this might mean that you need to put yourself out there a bit more than you're used to:

  • visit your professor's office hours regularly

  • ask about professional organizations your professor is involved with

  • join student organizations that your professors are staff advisors for

  • ask about your professors career trajectory: what steps did they take to get to where they are?

  • ask about funding opportunities or scholarships that might be available to you

  • this might be cliche, but ask about your professor's research: I'm sure they'd love to talk to you about it. Before you ask, read up on past projects they've been involved in. (You can usually find this information on google or your university's website)

  • offer to be a note-taker for students with disabilities in your class

  • be a leader and contribute in group work

  • send quality and professional emails

You’re 3-6 months out from your deadline and it’s time to select a concrete list of recommenders.


Most programs will ask for 2-3 letters, and most will also require that 1-2 of those letters come from professors, with priority placed on letters from professors of CSD courses. Think about it this way: academia is a small world, and most professors will have built relationships with colleagues at different universities. That trust in their peers' work will transfer to trust in their recommendations for graduate school applicants. From hours and hours of research from multiple forums and talks with professors, here’s your game plan:

3 letters from professors, OR
2 letters from professors and 1 from an SLP that you’ve shadowed or worked with closely OR
2 letters from professors and 1 from a supervisor for a related work experience or extensive volunteer experience

You’ll want to ask professors that you’ve built long-term professional relationships with, and it’s preferable that you have at least 1 professor that can speak to your research skills.

You’re still about 3-6 months out from the deadline. You have a list of recommenders, so now you need to decide which aspect of your background you want your recommenders to speak on. Then, you’ll be ready for the most important part: popping the question.


Most programs want to see you as a well-rounded individual, so your letters should encompass the following characteristics:

  • unique contributions that you’ll make to the incoming class

  • academic ability

  • communicative ability

  • level of professionalism

  • analytical skills

  • research experience

  • cultural competency.

For each of your recommenders, choose 1-3 points that you’d like them to speak on, specifically. It’s better to have detailed letters with specific stories and insights than a short, broad or general recommendation.


There’s conflicting information about how to ask for a recommendation, especially in the era of Covid-19. Usually, you would ask in person, but it is just as acceptable to ask via email or phone. In fact, it’s highly likely that if you ask in person, busy professors will also ask that you email them formally so that they have your request in writing to refer to.


Whichever method you decide, here is a template from which you can craft your request. Be sure to tailor your own request to the specific points that you’d like your recommender to attest to in their letter.



You’re 2-3 months out from your application deadline. Your recommenders have accepted your request, and now you need to create packets for them.


In each packet, you’ll need to have:


  • A cover letter thanking your recommender for taking the time to speak on your behalf. This introduction should include: the date of the deadline(s), the school(s) you’ll be applying to, the points that you’d like them to speak on, and reminders of specific interactions that you’ve had with this individual that could inform their letter.

  • If this is a professor and you are not enrolled in one of their courses this semester, include examples of work that you’ve completed in their class.

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript

  • A copy of your resume

You’ve been accepted! Or, you’ll try again next year. There’s no shame in coming back for a second round of applications! Either way, you’ll need to thank your recommenders for their time. Some out there would advise that you send a small thank you when the letters have been submitted, and a larger thank you when you can report on how your application fared.


Honestly, the most important advice I can give you is to make this personal. Writing a letter of recommendation can be incredibly time consuming, and your recommenders deserve to know how important it was to you that they took this time for you. Some ideas for your thank you include:


  • Handwriting a thank-you card

  • You’ll have developed a relationship with your recommender, so you could include their favorite candy or a small gift card for their favorite coffee, drink, or store.




You’re an out-of-major undergraduate student reading this 1-3 years before you apply, and you know it is never too early to start thinking about who to ask for recommendation letters. If you’re planning on applying this year, skip to step #2.


No matter your undergraduate major, you’ll want to make sure to develop close professional relationships with your professors. At most larger universities, you’ll notice that the tenured research professors rarely teach undergraduate classes.


For many MS-SLP programs, you are not at a disadvantage applying out-of-major, but many of those programs are looking for recommendations from professors who can speak to your aptitude for graduate level work and research ability.


Look for professors who will be teaching multiple courses, specifically full-time professors that teach graduate level courses in your undergraduate major field of study. If there are multiple professors who teach a single class, it is better to enroll in the course with a professor who you’ve already started to get to know. You’ll be in a better position to ask for a LOR if you’ve had a chance to develop your relationship over several semesters.


For the professors that you know you’ll have more contact with, make sure you focus your study on those classes to ensure that you’ll do especially well, and go to ALL of those professor’s office hours. It may seem like a lot, but this will pay off for you in the long run.


A way to ensure that you’ll have developed a relationship with a full-time professor in your major by the time you graduate is by asking your other instructors if they’re involved with research.


Hear me out: from personal experience, instructors and associate professors are usually master’s or doctoral students that are involved with research themselves. They can let you know about openings in labs and put in a good word for you as well.
I was able to enroll in a lab for credit because one of my instructors for a levelling course is a doctoral student and co-leader on a research project!

You'll want to make sure that your recommendations come from professors who have had a chance to get to know you in a variety of academic settings.


In addition to seeking out research opportunities, make sure that you make your presence known in classes. If you're a wallflower like me, this might mean that you need to put yourself out there a bit more than you're used to:

  • visit your professor's office hours regularly

  • ask about professional organizations your professor is involved with

  • join student organizations that your professors are staff advisors for

  • ask about your professors career trajectory: what steps did they take to get to where they are?

  • ask about funding opportunities or scholarships that might be available to you

  • ask about your professor's research. They’ll be delighted that you’re taking an interest in their work, and you might even be able to secure a research position in their lab. Even if it isn’t speech related, research experience of any kind is highly valued in graduate school applicants.

  • offer to be a note-taker for students with disabilities in your class

  • be a leader and contribute in group work

  • send quality and professional emails


Another piece of advice: if you already know 1-3 years ahead of time that you’ll be applying to MS-SLP programs out of major, you need to start developing relationships with practicing SLPs now. If you shadow or work with an SLP extensively over a period of time, a recommendation letter from this person would be able to speak to your dedication to this profession.

You’re 3-6 months out from your deadline and it’s time to select a concrete list of recommenders.


Most programs will ask for 2-3 letters, and most will also require that 1-2 of those letters come from professors, with priority placed on letters from professors of CSD courses.


While letters from CSD professors ARE preferred, they are usually NOT required for most programs, especially if you are applying out-of-major and have not yet taken levelling courses.


From hours and hours of research from multiple forums and talks with professors, here’s your game plan:


2 of your letters should come from full-time professors from your undergraduate major that can speak to your research ability and aptitude for graduate level coursework.
If your program requires a third letter, it would be very beneficial to you to ask an SLP that you’ve shadowed or worked with extensively. This recommender would be able to attest to your dedication to this profession.

You’re still about 3-6 months out from the deadline. You have a list of recommenders, so now you need to decide which aspect of your background you want your recommenders to speak on. Then, you’ll be ready for the most important part: popping the question.


Most programs want to see you as a well-rounded individual, so your letters should encompass the following characteristics:

  • unique contributions that you’ll make to the incoming class

  • academic ability

  • communicative ability

  • level of professionalism

  • analytical skills

  • research experience

  • cultural competency.

For each of your recommenders, choose 1-3 points that you’d like them to speak on, specifically. It’s better to have detailed letters with specific stories and insights than a short, broad or general recommendation.


There’s conflicting information about how to ask for a recommendation, especially in the era of Covid-19. Usually, you would ask in person, but it is just as acceptable to ask via email or phone. In fact, it’s highly likely that if you ask in person, busy professors will also ask that you email them formally so that they have your request in writing to refer to.


Whichever method you decide, here is a template from which you can craft your request. Be sure to tailor your own request to the specific points that you’d like your recommender to attest to in their letter.



You’re 2-3 months out from your application deadline. Your recommenders have accepted, and now you need to create packets for them.


In each packet, you’ll need to have:


  • A cover letter thanking your recommender for taking the time to speak on your behalf. This introduction should include: the date of the deadline(s), the school(s) you’ll be applying to, the points that you’d like them to speak on, and reminders of specific interactions that you’ve had with this individual that could inform their letter.

  • If this is a professor and you are not enrolled in one of their courses this semester, include examples of work that you’ve completed in their class.

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript

  • A copy of your resume

You’ve been accepted! Or, you’ll try again next year. There’s no shame in coming back for a second round of applications! Either way, you’ll need to thank your recommenders for their time. Some out there would advise that you send a small thank you when the letters have been submitted, and a larger thank you when you can report on how your application fared.


Honestly, the most important advice I can give you is to make this personal. Writing a letter of recommendation can be incredibly time consuming, and your recommenders deserve to know how important it was to you that they took this time for you. Some ideas for your thank you include:


  • Handwriting a thank-you card

  • You’ll have developed a relationship with your recommender, so you could include their favorite candy or a small gift card for their favorite coffee, drink, or store.



You’re an out-of-major undergraduate student taking levelling classes reading this about 6 months to a year before you apply, and you know it is never too early to start thinking about who to ask for recommendation letters.


Your goal is to develop close professional relationships with your CSD professors as quickly as possible. You'll probably notice pretty quickly that at most larger universities, the tenured research MS-SLP professors rarely teach levelling classes.


If you can, enroll in courses taught by professors in the program. If this is not possible, a way to ensure that you’ll have developed a relationship with a full-time CSD professor by the time you apply to programs is by asking your other instructors if they’re involved with research during your first semester. This is assuming that you will have 2 full semesters in a levelling program before you apply.


Hear me out: from personal experience, instructors and associate professors are usually master’s or doctoral students that are involved with research themselves. They can let you know about openings in labs and put in a good word for you as well.
I was able to enroll in a lab for credit because one of my instructors for a levelling course is a doctoral student and co-leader on a research project!

Another idea for those that start their levelling program in the fall, continue in the spring, but need to submit their applications in January: at some universities, you can enroll in a research credit your first semester. Over the summer, ask the undergraduate advisor if they would put you in contact with a professor on a research project looking for students in the fall. You'd be surprised how easy it can be to get an access code for these credits.


You'll want to make sure that your recommendations come from professors who have had a chance to get to know you in a variety of academic settings, and if you're completing a research credit and a course in your first semester, you'll feel more comfortable asking on such short notice.


Though you're spending such a brief amount of time in your levelling program, most programs will likely tell you that they'd like CSD professors to write your recommendations.


In addition to seeking out research opportunities, make sure that you make your presence known in classes. If you're a wallflower like me, this might mean that you need to put yourself out there a bit more than you're used to:

  • visit your professor's office hours regularly

  • ask about professional organizations your professor is involved with

  • join student organizations that your professors are staff advisors for

  • ask about your professors career trajectory: what steps did they take to get to where they are?

  • ask about funding opportunities or scholarships that might be available to you

  • this might be cliche, but ask about your professor's research: I'm sure they'd love to talk to you about it. Before you ask, read up on past projects they've been involved in. (You can usually find this information on google or your university's website)

  • offer to be a note-taker for students with disabilities in your class

  • be a leader and contribute in group work

  • send quality and professional emails

You’re 3-6 months out from your deadline and it’s time to select a concrete list of recommenders.


Most programs will ask for 2-3 letters, and most will also require that 1-2 of those letters come from professors, with priority placed on letters from professors of CSD courses.


While letters from CSD professors ARE preferred, they are NOT required for most programs. If you're not comfortable asking a professor you've known for only a few months, or if you haven't had the opportunity to develop an academic relationship with a CSD professor: don't worry. If you still have concerns, email the program directly to see what they suggest.


From hours and hours of research from multiple forums and talks with professors, here’s your game plan:


You'll want to try to have 1 of your letters come from a full-time CSD professor, and it would be even better to have 2.
Your other 1-2 recommenders can be full-time professors from your undergraduate major that can speak to your research ability and aptitude for graduate level coursework. If you have shadowed or worked with a practicing SLP extensively, one of your letters could come from them.

You’re still about 3-6 months out from the deadline. You have a list of recommenders, so now you need to decide which aspect of your background you want your recommenders to speak on. Then, you’ll be ready for the most important part: popping the question.


Most programs want to see you as a well-rounded individual, so your letters should encompass the following characteristics:

  • unique contributions that you’ll make to the incoming class

  • academic ability

  • communicative ability

  • level of professionalism

  • analytical skills

  • research experience

  • cultural competency.

For each of your recommenders, choose 1-3 points that you’d like them to speak on, specifically. It’s better to have detailed letters with specific stories and insights than a short, broad or general recommendation.


There’s conflicting information about how to ask for a recommendation, especially in the era of Covid-19. Usually, you would ask in person, but it is just as acceptable to ask via email or phone. In fact, it’s highly likely that if you ask in person, busy professors will also ask that you email them formally so that they have your request in writing to refer to.


Whichever method you decide, here is a template from which you can craft your request. Be sure to tailor your own request to the specific points that you’d like your recommender to attest to in their letter.




You’re 2-3 months out from your application deadline. Your recommenders have accepted, and now you need to create packets for them.


In each packet, you’ll need to have:


  • A cover letter thanking your recommender for taking the time to speak on your behalf. This introduction should include: the date of the deadline(s), the school(s) you’ll be applying to, the points that you’d like them to speak on, and reminders of specific interactions that you’ve had with this individual that could inform their letter.

  • If this is a professor and you are not enrolled in one of their courses this semester, include examples of work that you’ve completed in their class.

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript

  • A copy of your resume

You’ve been accepted! Or, you’ll try again next year. There’s no shame in coming back for a second round of applications! Either way, you’ll need to thank your recommenders for their time. Some out there would advise that you send a small thank you when the letters have been submitted, and a larger thank you when you can report on how your application fared.


Honestly, the most important advice I can give you is to make this personal. Writing a letter of recommendation can be incredibly time consuming, and your recommenders deserve to know how important it was to you that they took this time for you. Some ideas for your thank you include:


  • Handwriting a thank-you card

  • You’ll have developed a relationship with your recommender, so you could include their favorite candy or a small gift card for their favorite coffee, drink, or store.



You’re thinking about a career change and you're reading this 1-3 years before you apply, and you know it is never too early to start thinking about who to ask for recommendation letters. If you’re planning on applying this year, skip to step #2.


Similar to out-of-major undergraduate students, you are likely not at a disadvantage applying to most programs, but most are looking for recommendations from professors who can speak to your aptitude for graduate level work and research ability. As such, you will find yourself in the best possible position if you are able to reach out to a professor or two with whom you’ve stayed in contact with.


You might be tempted to put stock in only professional contacts for all of your recommendation letters, but quite a few programs will hesitate to admit applicants who do not have a recommender who can speak to your ability in graduate-level coursework.

One way to showcase your dedication to the Speech Language Pathology profession as someone who's been in the workforce is by extensively job shadowing or volunteering with a practicing SLP.
Letters of recommendation from someone in the field can go a long way toward explaining your career change goals when Statements of Purpose (SOPs) or Personal Statement word counts are too tight.
Trying to figure out how to job shadow? Try linkedin. You could even cold-call: see if the school SLP's email is listed on local school websites, or google "SLP near me" and see if any private practices or Med SLPs are looking for volunteers.

If you’re thinking about applying to SLP in the future, and you still have 6 months to a year until you’re ready to apply, reach out to professors that you’ve had in the past and start to rebuild your relationships with them. Ask about their research, catch up, even offer to take 1-2 credit hours of research credit in their labs as a part-time student while you’re still in the workforce. You don’t want hazy memories informing their recommendation of you.


You’re 3-6 months out from your deadline and it’s time to select a concrete list of recommenders.


Most programs will ask for 2-3 letters, and most will also require that 1-2 of those letters come from professors, with priority placed on letters from professors of CSD courses.


While letters from CSD professors ARE preferred, they are usually NOT required, especially if your undergraduate degree was out-of-major and have not yet taken levelling courses.


From hours and hours of research from multiple forums and talks with professors, here’s your game plan:


You’ll want to ask 1-2 full-time professors from your undergraduate major (CSD or any other) that can speak to your research ability and aptitude for graduate level coursework.
1-2 of your recommenders should be from your current profession, and...
1-2 should come from an SLP that you’ve shadowed or worked with extensively. As with my advice for out-of-major students, this recommender should be able to attest to your dedication to Speech Pathology.

You’re still about 3-6 months out from the deadline. You have a list of recommenders, so now you need to decide which aspect of your background you want your recommenders to speak on. Then, you’ll be ready for the most important part: popping the question.


Most programs want to see you as a well-rounded individual, so your letters should encompass the following characteristics:

  • unique contributions that you’ll make to the incoming class

  • academic ability

  • communicative ability

  • level of professionalism

  • analytical skills

  • research experience

  • cultural competency.

For each of your recommenders, choose 1-3 points that you’d like them to speak on, specifically. It’s better to have detailed letters with specific stories and insights than a short, broad or general recommendation.


There’s conflicting information about how to ask for a recommendation, especially in the era of Covid-19. Usually, you would ask in person, but it is just as acceptable to ask via email or phone. In fact, it’s highly likely that if you ask in person, busy professors will also ask that you email them formally so that they have your request in writing to refer to.


Whichever method you decide, here is a template from which you can craft your request. Be sure to tailor your own request to the specific points that you’d like your recommender to attest to in their letter.


You’re 2-3 months out from your application deadline. Your recommenders have accepted, and now you need to create packets for them.


In each packet, you’ll need to have:


  • A cover letter thanking your recommender for taking the time to speak on your behalf. This introduction should include: the date of the deadline(s), the school(s) you’ll be applying to, the points that you’d like them to speak on, and reminders of specific interactions that you’ve had with this individual that could inform their letter.

  • If this is a professor and you are not enrolled in one of their courses this semester, include examples of work that you’ve completed in their class.

  • A copy of your unofficial transcript

  • A copy of your resume

You’ve been accepted! Or, you’ll try again next year. There’s no shame in coming back for a second round of applications! Either way, you’ll need to thank your recommenders for their time. Some out there would advise that you send a small thank you when the letters have been submitted, and a larger thank you when you can report on how your application fared.


Honestly, the most important advice I can give you is to make this personal. Writing a letter of recommendation can be incredibly time consuming, and your recommenders deserve to know how important it was to you that they took this time for you. Some ideas for your thank you include:

  • Handwriting a thank-you card

  • You’ll have developed a relationship with your recommender, so you could include their favorite candy or a small gift card for their favorite coffee, drink, or store.



 

Still have questions? Sound off below: I'll respond as quickly as I can!