If you would like to request a letter of recommendation or written reference from any of our faculty members, please adhere to the following directions:
- Note that it is unusual for faculty members to write letters of recommendation unless students have already completed at least one course with that professor. If you have already graduated, we also recommend keeping in touch with your professors once or twice a year by email, and sending them updates about your career, so that they are more familiar with your goals in advance of a letter request.
- In general it is only appropriate to request letters of recommendation if you received a grade of a B or higher in that professor’s class.
- First, send the faculty member(s) a formal email of request at least one month in advance of the reference deadline. In your email, briefly remind the professor which classes you have taken with them, when they were taken, the final grade you earned for the course, and also the subjects/titles of any research papers you wrote in their classes.
- Once the faculty member has responded and approved your request, send a second email following up as soon as possible with more information.
Include many details about the opportunity that interests you, as suggested by the points below. If you are applying to more than one school or institution at once, please create an Excel or Word spread sheet with the following points listed for each, and attach this to your email:
- name of school or organization
- type of degree program or position and short description
- the names of professors there you are interested in studying with
- the subject areas or topics that you plan to pursue there
- potential future career paths
- relevant website links
- due dates for recommendations
- directions for sending recommendations
- any other relevant information about what content the recommendation should contain
In addition, attach to this email the following documents:
- An unofficial scan of your college transcript
- A draft of your application statement (Word file)
- A copy of your resume
- If relevant, a copy of a writing sample, ideally a paper you wrote for that professor
- If you are applying to more than five graduate schools, we strongly advise that as a courtesy to your professor you utilize an online dossier service like Interfolio. This affordable service allows your professors to confidentially upload their letters to the site, and then students manage where and when the letters are sent. https://www.interfolio.com/
- When you start your job or graduate school applications, be sure to select the option waive your right to view the letters written by your professors. In general, professors will only submit confidential letters.
- Be sure to fill out as much information as possible for your professors on application forms, such as professor’s name, university name, university address, etc.
- If the application requires a hard copy letter mailed, print out any relevant documents and prepare a stamped envelope with outgoing and return addresses (with the return address listed as the professor's campus address), and give these to your professor in advance.
- Send your professors reminders about due dates and regularly keep them posted about updates or changes in your application status.
- Once you have received news about the acceptance/rejection of your application(s), be sure to notify your professors which program/institution you plan to attend.