Guidelines for Letters of Reference for Physical Therapy Program Applicants

Instructions for Authors

Please speak to each of the six headings below if possible. It is not necessary to discuss each of the sub-topics. These are provided for your consideration and reflection only.

Please send the letter directly to the address below if candidate is an internal Sacred Heart University Student:

Office of Graduate Admissions
Attn: Physical Therapy Letter of Reference
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825-1000

Note: If candidate is an external applicant from another institution, PTCAS (Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service) has their own reference instructions.

From an Employment and/or Volunteer Supervisor Source

It is appropriate for this letter of reference to come from an individual who has had substantive experience supervising the applicant in an employment or volunteer setting, preferably in a health care setting. It is not necessary for the work or volunteer experience to be a physical therapy setting exclusively. The purpose of the letter of reference from this source is to provide information about the applicant in the following categories:

  1. Knowledge of the applicant: in what capacity you have known the applicant, for what period of time, how well you have known the applicant.
  2. Attitude and Character: confidence in the work place, ability to work with others, acceptance of criticism, motivation and enthusiasm, reliability, honesty, willingness, cooperation.
  3. Work habits/work load tolerance: ability to work independently, ability to work effectively in groups, self-discipline, initiative, resourcefulness, ability to manage stress, self-control, time management, poise and confidence.
  4. Communication skills: verbal, non-verbal, written with superiors, peers, subordinates, customers.
  5. Judgment and Decision-making skills: ability to express opinion, creative thinking, active learning, practicality in every day decisions, leadership abilities.

From an Academic Source

It is appropriate for this letter of reference to come from an individual who has had substantive experience working with the applicant in a classroom or academic advising situation, preferably associated with the applicant's undergraduate degree. The purpose of the letter of reference from this source is to provide information about the applicant in the following categories:

  1. Knowledge of the applicant: in what capacity you have known the applicant, for what period of time, how well you have known the applicant.
  2. Attitude and Character: confidence in the classroom, ability to work with others, acceptance of criticism, motivation and enthusiasm, reliability, honesty, willingness, cooperation.
  3. Learning characteristics: self-directed, group learning skills, intellectual curiosity, preferred learning style, listening skills.
  4. Work load tolerance: ability to manage stress, self-control, time management, poise and confidence.
  5. Communication skills: verbal, non-verbal, written with faculty, students and others.
  6. Independent thinking: creative thinking, active learning, curiosity, problem-solving skills.