Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation Letters

Letters of Recommendation are an Important piece of your Application.

Letters: Guidelines for Medical School Applications

How many letters of recommendation do I need and from whom?

We advise securing one nonscience and two science faculty letters. This approach will work most places, but you should check specific requirements at your state school(s) and any dream schools. Some schools give no specific guidance about types of letters (examples are WUSM and U MI); others have very specific criteria for acceptable letters.

What counts as a science (or nonscience) letter?

That is up to the medical schools. If the schools to which you’ll apply don’t have specific criteria for letters, you don’t need to worry about this question. If you are applying to schools that, for example, require a biology faculty letter and you want to know if your neuroscience course offered out of the psychology department will count, you really have to check with the admissions office of that school.

Resource for Recommenders from the AAMC - Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Evaluation for a Medical School Applicant:



How to Secure Strong Letters of Recommendation

The PreHealth team holds programming that helps students learn the best way to approach recommendation letter writers in order to secure the strongest possible letters of recommendation for your application. There is no replacement for attending a sessions offered both at Fall Break into Medical School and Junior Jumpstart, however we have attached the PowerPoint presentation, by Dean Joy Kiefer for your reference below.

Securing Strong Letters of Recommendation

Where do my Recommenders send their letters?

The PIR system works as a letter of recommendation depository for students who plan to apply through the Washington University PreHealth office. We ask that you create a PIR account, Sign a Confidentiality waiver, and give this waiver to your recommenders when asking them for a letter of recommendation. The waiver form has instructions on how your recommender(s) can submit their letters to us in order to be stored in your PIR account. We accept letters via email to and through campus/US mail, address below. We cannot add a letter to a student's account if a confidentiality waiver is not signed. The letter must also be both signed and on official letterhead before it can be stored in your account. If we receive a letter that is not formatted appropriately we will try to be in touch with your recommender to correct the formatting.

The College of Arts & Sciences
Washington University
Attn: Liz Heidger
Due to working remotely, we ask that all letters be sent electronically to Please contact us with questions or concerns.


Cover Letters

The purpose of the PIR Material Submissions and the PIR Advising Appointment, is not only for students to assess their own readiness to apply, but it is also a means for us to collect information about who you are as an applicant in order to support your application to Medical or Dental School programs. The PIR process and the letters of recommendation received on your behalf will culminate in a letter of Institutional Support. This letter is written as a means to highlight your personal strengths and support your narrative so medical schools get a picture of who you are as an applicant. Questions about the cover letter? Email

Letter Packet

Students applying to Medical Schools, DO Schools, and Dental Schools will indicate that they are sending a Letter Packet. This letter packet will generally contain the cover letter (as long as you've completed the requirements), followed by 3-5 letters of recommendation. You will have the ability to select which letters in your account will be included in your packet after your cover letter has been approved. You will also be able to select the order those letters will appear after the cover letter.