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12 November 2023

6 minutes read

Crafting the Perfect Letter of Recommendation for MS in Engineering Management

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Pursuing a Master’s in Engineering Management (MEM) is a significant step for many aspiring professionals. In this journey, a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) plays a pivotal role, providing insights into a candidate’s capabilities, character, and potential. This comprehensive guide delves into crafting a compelling LOR, offering invaluable tips for both students and professors.

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The Importance of a Letter of Recommendation in MS Admissions

Understanding the Role of LOR in the Admission Process

A Letter of Recommendation for an MS in Engineering Management is not just a formality; it’s a critical component of your application. It serves as a professional endorsement, providing the admissions committee with a third-party perspective on your academic abilities, leadership skills, and potential as an engineering manager. A well-written LOR can often be the deciding factor in a competitive admissions process.

Key Elements of a Strong LOR

A compelling LOR should seamlessly combine academic achievements and personal qualities. It needs to be more than just praise; it should paint a picture of the student as a future leader in engineering management. The letter should:

  1. Personalize the Experience: Specific anecdotes and examples that highlight the student’s qualities.
  2. Focus on Leadership and Management: Instances showcasing leadership abilities, team management, and decision-making skills.
  3. Demonstrate Academic Competency: Evidence of the student’s technical and analytical skills.
  4. Maintain a Professional Tone: While being personable, the letter should retain a formal and respectful tone.

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Tips for Writing an Effective Letter of Recommendation

For Professors: Crafting a Persuasive Endorsement

  1. Understand the MEM Program: Gain insights into what the program entails to tailor the LOR appropriately.
  2. Reflect on the Student’s Contributions: Describe specific instances, projects, or achievements where the student excelled.
  3. Emphasize Professional Skills: Discuss traits such as teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and innovation.

For Students: Ensuring a Strong Recommendation

  1. Choose Your Recommender Wisely: Opt for a professor or employer who knows you well and can provide specific details about your abilities.
  2. Provide Supporting Materials: Share your resume, statement of purpose, and any other relevant documents that can aid in writing a detailed LOR.
  3. Request Early: Allow ample time for your recommender to write a thoughtful letter, avoiding last-minute rushes.

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Crafting the Narrative: What to Include in Your LOR

Building a Compelling Story

A great LOR should tell a story, highlighting the journey of the student from an academic and professional standpoint. It should detail how the student has grown and is now ready to take on the challenges of a MEM program.

Highlighting Key Achievements

Focus on significant academic achievements, research projects, internships, or any relevant work experience. Specific examples where the student demonstrated exceptional skills should be the cornerstone of the letter.

Reflecting on Personal Attributes

Apart from academic and professional accomplishments, the LOR should also reflect on the student’s personal attributes like resilience, integrity, and motivation, which are critical for success in advanced studies and future career paths.

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Sample LOR for MS in Engineering Management

A Template for Success

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Institution/Organization]
[Your Institution/Organization Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]

Admissions Committee
[University Name]
[Department of Engineering Management]
[University Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

Dear Members of the Admissions Committee,

I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [Applicant’s Name] for admission to your Master’s program in Engineering Management at [University Name]. As [Your Position] at [Your Institution/Organization], I have had the pleasure of knowing [Applicant’s Name] for [Number of Years] years, first as a student in my [Course Name] class, and subsequently as a research assistant in my [Specific Field] lab.

During [His/Her/Their] time in my class, [Applicant’s Name] consistently demonstrated a keen interest in [Specific Aspect of Engineering Management, e.g., systems engineering, product development, etc.].

[His/Her/Their] ability to grasp complex concepts and apply them in innovative ways was evident in [His/Her/Their] project on [Describe Specific Project], which not only received top marks but also showed [His/Her/Their] potential as an engineering manager.

[Applicant’s Name] possesses a rare combination of technical proficiency and leadership skills. In the lab, [He/She/They] took the initiative to lead a team project focused on [Describe Project or Initiative].

Under [His/Her/Their] leadership, the team successfully [Describe Outcome], showcasing [His/Her/Their] ability to manage complex projects, motivate team members, and deliver results on time. [His/Her/Their] exceptional problem-solving skills and dedication to excellence were crucial in overcoming the challenges faced during this project.

Apart from [His/Her/Their] technical skills, [Applicant’s Name] is a person of great integrity and dedication. [He/She/They] consistently demonstrates a high level of professionalism and commitment to [His/Her/Their] work.

[His/Her/Their] interpersonal skills make [Him/Her/Them] a valued team member, able to effectively communicate and collaborate with peers, faculty, and industry professionals.

[Applicant’s Name]’s passion for engineering management is matched by [His/Her/Their] desire for continuous learning and improvement. [He/She/They] frequently engages in discussions on the latest industry trends and often explores ways to incorporate these insights into [His/Her/Their] work.

This quality, along with [His/Her/Their] academic excellence, makes [Him/Her/Them] an ideal candidate for your Master’s program in Engineering Management.

In conclusion, I have no reservations in recommending [Applicant’s Name] for your program. [He/She/They] possesses the skills, experience, and drive that will enable [Him/Her/Them] to excel in this field.

I am confident that [Applicant’s Name] will contribute significantly to your program and will continue to achieve great success in [His/Her/Their] academic and professional endeavors.

Thank you for considering this application. I am available to discuss [Applicant’s Name]’s qualifications further if required.


[Your Signature (if submitting a hard copy)]
[Your Printed Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Institution/Organization]

The Don’ts of Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Writing a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) for a student or professional is a significant responsibility. While there are many guidelines on what to include in an effective LOR, it’s equally important to be aware of what not to do. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Don’t Be Vague or General:

Avoid making broad, unspecific statements. Phrases like “a good student” or “hard worker” don’t convey much to an admissions committee or potential employer. They need concrete examples and specific skills or achievements that set the candidate apart.

2. Avoid Overstatements and Hyperbole:

It’s important to be enthusiastic, but over-the-top praise can come off as insincere. Claims like “the best student I’ve ever taught” or “unparalleled in their field” can raise doubts unless they are backed by extraordinary evidence.

3. Steer Clear of Clichés:

Phrases like “team player” and “natural leader” are so overused they’ve become meaningless. Instead, focus on unique attributes and give examples.

4. Don’t Ignore Weaknesses Completely:

It might seem counterintuitive, but acknowledging a candidate’s areas of growth can lend credibility to your letter. The key is to frame these weaknesses positively, perhaps as areas of improvement that the candidate has actively worked on.

5. Refrain from Including Irrelevant Information:

Personal anecdotes or details that don’t directly relate to the candidate’s qualifications for the specific program or job should be left out. Keep the focus on relevant skills, experiences, and achievements.

6. Avoid Discriminatory or Sensitive Personal Information:

Never include information about the candidate’s race, religion, nationality, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or health status. Not only is this information irrelevant to their academic or professional capabilities, but it can also be illegal.

7. Don’t Use a Generic Template:

A letter that reads like a template with only a few details changed comes across as insincere. Tailor your letter to the individual, emphasizing their unique strengths and how they relate to the specific opportunity.

8. Avoid Negativity or Criticism:

While it’s okay to mention areas for improvement, the overall tone of the letter should be positive. Avoid any outright criticism or negative language that might cast a shadow on the candidate’s application.

9. Don’t Exceed Appropriate Length:

Keep your letter concise and to the point. A good recommendation letter is typically one page long. Anything more than two pages is usually too long and may not be read in its entirety.

10. Avoid Delay and Missed Deadlines:

Procrastinating on writing a letter or missing the submission deadline can greatly harm the candidate’s application process. Ensure that you manage your time effectively to provide a thoughtful and timely recommendation.

11. Don’t Forget to Proofread:

Grammatical errors, typos, or incorrect information (like the wrong name or program) can significantly undermine the credibility of your letter. Always proofread your work before submission.

12. Avoid Being Too Personal:

While some personal insight can be valuable, the focus should be on professional or academic qualifications and achievements. Avoid delving too deeply into personal life or anecdotes that don’t directly support the candidate’s application.

13. Don’t Speculate or Guess:

If you’re unsure about specific details regarding the candidate’s achievements or skills, it’s better to leave them out than to include potentially inaccurate information.

14. Avoid Overwhelming the Reader:

Stick to the most relevant and impressive highlights of the candidate’s career or academic life. Overloading the letter with too many details can dilute its impact.

15. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the LOR:

Finally, understand the weight your letter carries. A well-written LOR can be a deciding factor in an application, so take this responsibility seriously.

Final Thoughts: The Impact of a Well-Written LOR

The Power of a Persuasive Recommendation

In conclusion, a well-crafted Letter of Recommendation is a powerful tool in the MS in Engineering Management application process. It not only showcases the candidate’s past achievements and potential but also provides a glimpse into their character and suitability for the program.


Q1: How long should a LOR be?

A typical LOR should be about one page, succinctly presenting the candidate’s strengths and potential.

Q2: Can I draft my own LOR for my recommender to sign?

While it’s not uncommon, it’s always better for the authenticity of the LOR if the recommender writes it themselves. However, providing a draft can be helpful in guiding them.

Q3: Should the LOR focus more on academic or personal qualities?

It should be a balanced mix of both, highlighting academic achievements and personal qualities relevant to the field of study.

Q4: Can a LOR make or break my application?

A strong LOR can significantly bolster your application, while a weak one can raise concerns, so its importance shouldn’t be underestimated.

Q5: How can I ensure my LOR is effective?

Choose your recommender wisely, provide them with all necessary information, and request the LOR well in advance.

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