Teacher Evaluations

Recommendations from teachers give us a more subjective evaluation of your work and provide a perspective that may not be evident from grades and scores. Penn requires two teacher recommendations, ideally from teachers with whom you have had class in your junior or senior year in major academic subjects—math, science, social science, English, or foreign language. We take teacher commentaries seriously, so it is best to find people who are well acquainted with your work and potential.

The Admissions Committee pays very close attention to what your teachers have to say about you. These letters allow us to understand the kind of student you are in their classrooms, which in turn helps us to understand the kind of a student you may be in our classrooms. Letters also give us a story behind the grade, providing us with information about work ethic, class participation, collaboration, and interactions with classmates. 

  • It can be helpful to obtain a recommendation from a teacher in your area of academic interest. 
  • You do not need to get one letter from a science/math teacher and one from a humanities teacher, although you are welcome to do that. However, we recommend that both letters not come from the same subject. For example, a letter from a math teacher and a letter from a science teacher is acceptable.  Likewise, a letter from a history teacher and a letter from an English teacher. Letters from two different math teachers, however, is not preferable.
  • The best letters come from the teachers who know you well, not necessarily the ones who gave you the best grade.
  • Be sure to ask for recommendations well in advance of the deadline, to allow for your teachers to write thoughtful letters about you.
  • Providing your teachers with a resume, a list of the projects and assignments you did while in their class, or a favorite topic that was discussed in class, can help your teachers remember all of the great work you did.
  • Penn does allow for one supplemental recommendation.  Please see the supplementary materials section for more information.

Transfer Applicants: Recommendations should come from your college professors. If you ask a teaching assistant to write a recommendation, the class professor must sign off on the written recommendation.