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Sample Reference Letter

Reference letter for a PhD candidate

A successful application to a PhD program almost always requires letters of recommendation from former university lecturers and professors. They are the main point of reference when it comes to assessing an applicant's qualification for a PhD program. The letter below is a good example for a former MSc student, who now wants to pursue a PhD in the same field. It is already somewhat specifically addressed, as it directly refers to a doctorare degree in Linguistics.


Dear Sir or Madam,

it is my pleasure to acquaint you with one of my most outstanding students, Ravi Egilsson, who is keen to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics at your esteemed institution.

I have known Ravi since 2010, when he enrolled into the Master of Science in Speech Analytics here at Oxbridge University. As part of this programme, Ravi took my course on Automated Speech Processing and joined my practical seminar on Pattern Processing. I also supervised him for his thesis project, a smartphone app that can translate a range of simple infant phonetisms into spoken language.

Ravi presented outstanding commitment to his studies, and finished his degree within the top 10% of his class. He was a quite remarkable student with a strong research interest. Among his peers, he stood out by always being up-to-date with currently topical discussions even within niches of linguistical research. The quality of his research work on his thesis project was compelling, and he managed to find beautifully simple solutions to very challenging problems.

With his multicultural background and fluent proficiency of English, Swedish and Hindi he was able to approach many scientific questions from different angles. During the courses, he always made many valuable contributions to group discussions. Finally, it should not be left unmentioned that Ravi is a very pleasant person to work with.

I respect Ravi's decision to further pursue his specific research interests at your university, and I am confident that he will be a highly valuable addition to your PhD program, where he could develop and apply his extraordinary talents. Furthermore, I am certain that he would qualify for any means of financial aid that you could offer him, and I also strongly recommend him for a position as a teaching or research assistant. Should you have any questions with regards to Ravi Egilsson, I will be pleased to answer them.


Klemens Rapper

Oxbridge University