How to ask faculty for a Letter of Recommendation
Applying for jobs or to graduate school can be an overwhelming experience. Below are professional and appropriate guidelines for how to ask faculty for a letter of recommendation. Since faculty spend many hours on letters of recommendations for their students, please use this list to be respectful of their time, help organize and expedite the process.
2 months before recommendation is needed
Consider which professor might write a positive recommendation letter for you.
Have you taken more than one course with this professor?
How well did you do in their courses and were you involved - discussions, asking questions, visiting office hours?
Does this professor know your strengths, both academic and outside of their class?
5-6 weeks before recommendation is needed
If you answered yes to the questions above, ask the professor - either in office hours or by email - if they are comfortable writing a positive recommendation letter for you.
Tell the professor what you would be needing the recommendation for - graduate school, job, or scholarship.
At least a month before the recommendation is needed
If the professor agrees, prepare a folder with the following documents:
GRE Scores and Curriculum Vitae/Resume
The program(s) to which you are applying, their associated due dates for the application, and the formal address that the letter will be sent to
A statement of purpose/your application essay
Please highlight your academic interests for the professor.
For a recommendation sent by mail:
Please provide an envelope and postage with the formal address of where the mail will be sent filled out.
For a recommendation submitted online:
Please register the professor with the recommended application service.
Tell the professor if you no longer need a recommendation letter ASAP.
One week before the recommendation is due
You may remind the professor via email, but only send one reminder.
After the recommendation is written
Thank the professor in person and let them know of the outcome of your application.