REU Cover Letters

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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REU Cover Letters

Post by djysyed » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:46 pm

I'm applying to REUs in case I don't hear back from any schools by March and want to stick around for a fourth year of undergrad.

What should I include on my cover letter? How difficult is it to receive admission to any of the non-top 10 REUs (Anything not at a big research or top liberal arts school)?

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Re: REU Cover Letters

Post by EGA » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:56 pm

My impression is that REU's (even at not so elite schools) are very competitive to get into. I applied to 12 last year and only go in to 2, including rejections from several places where I could very likely get into their Phd program. I know people (with comparable qualifications to me) that didn't get into any.

As for what to include in a cover letter/personal statement, I wrote primarily about research I had done as well as significant mathematics I had seen that might not be evident from my transcripts or CV (e.g. independent studies/seminars I'd participated in). There was a fair amount of mathematical terminology/notation, but of course it was very informal, only attempting to communicate the conceptual meat of the mathematics I was discussing.

One of my letter writers was a professor I had done extensive research with in his area of specialty, and the program I attended was at the school where he did his Phd. If you have a glowing letter from someone who has connections at the program, it probably doesn't matter that much what you write, provided it conveys competence and enthusiasm.

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Re: REU Cover Letters

Post by korobeiniki » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:28 pm

Here's a guide ( for applying to REUs by a graduate student at Princeton.

Also I echo the sentiments of the poster above; I got rejected from REUs at places I got in for their PhD program.

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