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Social Work Letter of Recommendation Writing Guide 2023

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The demand for social workers is growing, thanks to the myriad of social welfare schemes by the governments in most countries. When you try to get admission for graduation or postgraduate programs in social work, you will realize that you need a reliable person to recommend you to the institute. In this blog, we are talking about everything you need to know about reference letter for social worker. We will help you with: 

  • Tips on how to write an impeccable social work letter of recommendation. 
  • Insights into five key aspects that selection officers want in your MSW recommendation letter.
  • And some useful MSW recommendation letter samples

What Is MSW Reference Letter?

To begin with, let us try to define what a recommendation letter for social work is. A reference letter for social worker, like any other reference letter, is a letter written by an authorized person, usually someone in a high academic or professional ranking. The letter, which is addressed to the selection panel of a college or university, officially introduces the candidate by sharing his or her academic background, excellence, strengths, suitability etc. with some examples.

Why Do You Need a Social Work Letter of Recommendation?

A social worker recommendation letter is a very important document when it comes to selecting candidates for higher study programs in the domain of social work. 

  • The admission panel would get a confirmation regarding the candidate’s own claims about his skills, strengths, suitability, etc from an LOR that has been endorsed by a reputed person. 
  • The letter talks about the qualification and eligibility of the candidate in order to be considered for the social work program. 
  • The letter shares the referee’s overall opinion about the candidate’s character which is an important criterion for the admission panel to shortlist a candidate. 
  • The letter would show the depth of social commitment and responsibility the candidate showed from the perspective of the referee. 
  • Admission panel would learn whether a candidate could live up to the expectation of their institution and its ethics, vision, and mission from an LOR.
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Answer These Questions Before Writing an MSW Recommendation Letter

Not sure what information to supply in the social worker recommendation letter? Answering the following questions will make it much easier. So, before writing the LOR, try to find legible answers to the following questions. 

How certain are you about the candidate’s potential to succeed in a career as a social worker? 

Rather than writing plainly that the candidate is excellent at his studies, say why you are certain that candidate would succeed in the post-graduate program in social work and later in a career as a social worker. 

What personal values and qualities have you noticed in the candidate that would make him ideal for the social work profession? 

List down a couple of qualities and personal values that you found in the candidate, for instance, empathy, helping mentality, ability to identify people’s problems and step in to help, etc. Do not forget to supply examples.  

In what capacity do you know the candidate and how long has the candidate been under your supervision or tutelage? 

Your LOR must start by explaining who you are and how you have known the candidate and how long both of you were in contact. This would show the relevance of your recommendation letter. 

Can you cite any example which explains your candidate’s qualities and strengths? 

Think about any experience you shared with the candidate where you could clearly see some of the strengths or qualities of the candidate, for instance, organizing a social event or working on a social project. Admission officers will give much attention to the candidate’s interpersonal and social skills since they are essential to be successful in the social worker profession. 

Have you noticed any unique characteristics in the candidate that made him special among his peers?

Talk about a few aspects that made the candidate special, for instance, his ability to multitask different things without compromising the quality of the work or his ability to keep a healthy relationship with everyone or a happy and pleasant demeanour.

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Five Things In Reference Letter for Social Worker That Would Impress The Admissions Officers

What would the admission officers be looking to see in your social worker recommendation letter? Finding that out is important because by ensuring that their expectations are met, you can easily impress them. Here is a list of five things that would impress the admission officers. 

The simplicity of the letter: The admission officers are not looking for an LOR that looks like a research paper. They would rather appreciate a letter that is written in simple language and easily conveys the message. 

Good formatting: An LOR that is properly formatted will invariably attract the attention of the selectors because they review hundreds of LORs and the ones that are properly formatted stand out among them.

Strong identification: The MSW reference letter that shares a strong identification with the candidate will have more chances to catch the attention of the selectors. 

Examples: When a point is supported with evidence, the admission officers will take special note of that. They will also see if the same information can be verified from other application materials.

The reputation of the referee: Finally, the reputation of the referee who is writing the recommendation letter is another important area of interest for the selectors. So, it is good to have someone who is professionally or academically on a higher rank to write your LOR. 

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What Is the Length of a Typical MSW Reference Letter?

Before you set a specific word count to follow, we recommend you verify whether your hosting college or university is asking for a pre-set format, word count and type of points in the LOR. If there are no such specific guidelines, you can go with the following numbers regarding your LOR length. 

  • Number of words: 400 to 500
  • Number of characters: 2000 to 2500
  • Number of pages: 1 to 2

Sample Letter of Recommendation for Social Work Master’s Program

What about going through an MSW recommendation letter sample now? We have seen that most students and referees appreciate sample reviewing very much since it helps them identify with the points they are about to write. Go through the below-given social work letter of recommendation examples carefully.

Dear Admission Officer,

It gives me a great amount of pleasure and honour to recommend Mr XXX to the Master of Social Work program at your esteemed institution. Having served as his academic supervisor during his undergraduate program at XXX College, XXX, I am convinced that XXX will be an ideal candidate for this program.

As XXX contacted me for a reference letter for his higher education in social work, I was overjoyed because I instantly knew that he would be the right candidate for this program. Since his graduation period, I know him as a committed, hardworking and socially responsible student. He has a sense of social justice and expresses strong feelings of solidarity while talking about less privileged individuals. This is the most important quality that social workers must have.

As a student, XXX was among the top scorers. He maintained high attendance and grades for all subjects in all semesters. He possessed an empathetic nature. Even though he was one of the brightest students, he never showed it off or take pride in that. Instead, he was concerned about a few of his classmates who couldn’t grasp certain subjects. He knew how to connect with people and build a rapport. Moreover, he was ready to interact with everyone and leave a positive impact on everyone’s life.

Besides the academic side, XXX has made remarkable achievements in extracurricular activities related to social work. During his graduation period, he took part in two internship programs conducted by a reputed NGO and received positive feedback from them for his commitment, professionalism and work ethic. He knows how to apply the knowledge he acquires through various sources like learning, social exposure and internships in real-world situations. It is something that will significantly benefit him during his career as a social worker.

To conclude, I have complete confidence that XXX will be an appropriate candidate for the social work course you are offering. His strong sense of identification with less privileged, empathy and deep knowledge of social issues will make him an outstanding candidate for your program. Not only that he will complete this program successfully but also will add value to society by way of his contributions as a dedicated social worker. I take this opportunity to strongly recommend his candidacy for the program. If you have any questions regarding him to verify with me, write to me at the below-mentioned email address.





How to Use MSW recommendation letter Samples – Some Useful Guidelines

What to learn from the samples or how to get inspired by them? Here are some helpful tips. 

  • Read at least two different samples and see how each one differs in points, writing tone, perspective, and overall appeal. 
  • Figure out how many different points are brought into the recommendation letter and how each of them is supported with examples and contextual information. 
  • Compare your own LOR writing with the writing style and comprehensiveness of the sample and identify areas in which you can still improve. 
  • See how the formatting of the social work letter of recommendation example influences the letter and helps keep the reader engaged while reading it.
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Write Your MSW Letter of Recommendation In 6 Easy Steps

Here is a simple LOR writing strategy which can be helpful if you are writing a social work master’s letter of recommendation for the first time. 

  • Gather details from the student: When you are requested to write a social worker LOR from the student, get maximum details from him such as his eligibility, relevant experiences, skills, strengths and exposure, examples of social commitments, etc. 
  • Pull out additional info from your records: Next, verify the information that the candidate shared with you by checking the college/university records. This will also help you figure out any other additional points which can be used in favour of the candidate. 
  • Find out institute expectations: It is advisable to get a fair idea about the institute that the candidate is applying to and what its vision, mission and values are. This will help you align the candidate’s profile with the institute’s expectations.  
  • Read LOR samples: Go through at least two of the example letter of recommendation for MSW program we have shared here and get familiar with the format, writing tone, customization, and other important elements. Note down any area that you must remind yourself of. 
  • Write a first draft and verify: Based on the information you have at hand and the structure you have got familiar with, write a first draft of the LOR. Compare it with a sample and see how it sounds. Have the student go through it to ensure that there is no contradicting information. 
  • Finalize, proofread, and submit: Next, finalize the LOR by proofreading it carefully from start to end. It is good to proofread it up to four times to spot even the slightest errors and correct them. Check the submission guidelines and submit the letter accordingly.
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Who Must Write Your Letter of Recommendation for MSW Program?

You may consider the following professionals to write your social worker recommendation letter. 

Licensed Social workers: If you have associated with any licensed social workers as part of your internship or project, they are the most suitable people to write your social worker LOR. 

Professor/teacher: If you have completed any studies in social work or related fields, a teacher or professor from it can be considered to write your social work recommendation letter. 

Social work project manager: The project manager of a social work program you have taken part in can know about your potential as a social worker and thus write the letter for you. 

In addition to the above, you can consider your employer, colleagues, co-workers, or friends to write your social worker recommendation letter. However, if you need just one LOR, always pick someone who is more closely linked to the social work profession or training to draft it for you.

Dos And Don’t In Referral Letter For Social Worker Writing

Here is a list of five Dos and Don’ts which will help you write a letter of recommendation for a social worker with more professionalism and perfection. 


  • Select a referee who is involved in the domain of social work by their profession. 
  • Make a list of at least five referees if you are required three LORs, in case one rejects your request. 
  • Make sure to provide your referee with the most relevant and latest information. 
  • Meet the referee in person and request the LOR. Be thankful to him/her. You will require their follow-up in case the selection committee asks for it. 
  • Customize the LOR according to the social work program being applied to. 


  • Do not choose a referee with whom you do not have a personal connection. The more the personal bond, the stronger the letter will look. 
  • Do not provide false information to the referee. Only true information can reflect your true strengths and qualities. 
  • Do not write a reference letter without the permission of a referee. The letter must be written on the official letterhead of the referee and should contain his/her contact details. 
  • Do not write the LOR in a hurry. If your referee is busy and requests you to write the content and you are not sure what to write, seek the help of an expert writer. 
  • Do not sound negative in the LOR. Show how strongly and enthusiastically you recommend the candidate.
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Final Checklist

Before submitting your social worker LOR, make sure that it ticks all the below boxes. 

  • Have you reviewed the LOR submission date and guidelines? 
  • Does the LOR have enough contextual information to prove the candidate’s aptness for the social work program? 
  • Does the LOR look convincing and engaging to read? 
  • Does the LOR have a positive tone as the example letter of recommendation for masters program in social work? 
  • Does the LOR clearly establish the relationship between the social work applicant and the referee? 
  • Does the LOR supply the referee’s contact information and acceptance to be contacted for any future follow-up requirements?


A recommendation letter has more importance for programs like social work because it helps the selection committee know whether the candidate has the type of character that will work for a social worker. 

We are glad that we could share a comprehensive guide to help you write a sturdy social work letter of recommendation. 

Do you have any questions regarding the topics covered in this blog? 

It is through your feedback that we can improve this blog. 

So, we encourage you to share your feedback with us by writing them in the comment.



I am Anjit.V.S, a freelance writer, overseas education consultant and an academic documentation expert. Over the years, I have written documents for thousands of students and hundreds of businesses and individuals worldwide. Many of the prominent study abroad counsellors in India refer me to their students for SOP, LOR, admission essays. personal statements and other similar documents. Not just the academic documents but whatever content needs you have, stay assured. Perfectly impeccable services are delivered.

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