Wendy J. Fibison, Ph.D.
Office of Training and Diversity
NIAID and NIH websites to help search for training opportunities
Follow all instructions. We recommend that you print these guidelines for the application and cover letter so that as you craft the content of your application, you have a touchstone to make sure you’ve addressed the points requested.
When crafting a cover letter, pay close attention to
The body of your cover letter should be no more than three paragraphs. Keep it concise—equating your skills, history, and experience with the specific research opportunity.
The closing of your cover letter gives the reviewer the easiest ways to reach you.
Letters of recommendation are often the first independent assessment of your capabilities, performance, and potential that is seen by a principal investigator or lab chief. They should mention all your positive qualities not demonstrated by objective data such as grades. You should never ask a relative to write a recommendation letter for you.
Your letter should touch on the following points of potential interest to reviewers:
By addressing these points, letters of recommendation can provide the "big picture" of your overall promise and potential.
Also helpful are letters from faculty with whom you have taken several courses, or who simply know you well and are advocates for your admission to this program. You can assist these individuals in creating a strong letter of recommendation by providing them with a breakdown of your personal information. This will allow them to write a stronger and more specific letter of recommendation.
The most helpful and easiest way to provide this insight is to give them your resume or CV which includes
Check with your references periodically because they may not be able to complete their letters of recommendation without asking you a few questions. Also, they probably have received many requests for letters of recommendation and following up will help them and you meet the deadlines.
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Last Updated April 30, 2009