Grad School References


  • Specializes in CVICU / Open heart recovery. Has 2 years experience.

I am an new RN and looking to finish my BSN next May (2011) and hoping to start grad school in August (2011). Everything I have read says to apply at least a year prior to when you plan to start so I am working on my applications. However, I am not sure who to use for references. I have only been an RN since January and we got a new manager in March so my manager doesn't really know me all that well and I don't know her. I am sure there are some co-workers, preceptors and professors at my University who would be excellent references but I am not sure if those references would be "good enough". So what is more important: a reference from someone who knows you better or from your manager? Do you think a lot of weight is put on who your references are?

Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

Ask your school who they want references from, it isn't "cheating," lol. For instance, my school told me specifically not to use physicians as references, while a close friend of mine who goes to a different school had 2 of her 3 letters from physician colleagues. You need to know the mindset of the people who will be reading and evaluating them. My school puts an enormous amount of emphasis on nursing leadership, hence the no physician preference. I had some very strong letters from academic references and a former supervisor, but I was told that it was letter from a co-worker that put me over the top. It was highly personal and not at all an objective assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. What she told them about me made them think that my character was that of something/one they wanted in their program. :shrug: Another school might have been completely turned off by such an "unprofessional" testimonial. So just ask! Good luck.


118 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 9 years experience.

I agree with the pp, ask the school who they want references from. I know that the schools I applied to specified that my director be one of my references. They also wanted academic references and not co-worker references.

Specializes in Emergency, Cardiac, PAT/SPU, Urgent Care. Has 26 years experience.

Another vote for asking the schools to which you are applying. Both of mine wanted at least one MSN and a supervisor.

UVA Grad Nursing

1,068 Posts

One more vote for checking with your schools.

I am the Assistant Dean for Admissions/Financial Aid at a university, and we have different recommendation requirements for the different programs (Direct Entry, MSN, DNP, PhD). These requirements are spelled out in the instructions page of our online application.

For our clinically-based MSNs (APN), we want three letters: one from someone in a position higher that you that can assess your current clinical abilities; one from someone who can assess how you process new information (professor or mentor); and one letter from an Advanced Practice Nurse who can discuss your aptitude and leadership behaviors for becoming an APN.