Skip to main content

Letter of Recommendation

Guidelines for Political Science and International Relations Students

Students frequently ask instructors for letters of recommendation for graduate school or for employment. Professors are willing and able to write these letters so don’t be afraid to ask. However, it is important that you understand a few things about the process.

First, be sure to ask the best person. Don’t just ask the professor who seems most approachable. Ask a professor who knows you well and has a positive impression of you as a student and as a person. Grades matter for graduate or law school, as the schools are looking for people who can speak to your academic potential.

Second, don’t ask for a letter “on the fly.” Visit the professor during his/her office hours (or make an appointment). Discuss the reasons for the letter and ask to use him/her as a reference. Another option is to email the professor with a polite request, the reasons why you are asking for the letter, and the information listed below.

Third, don’t ask for a letter to be written if you aren’t sure you will apply. These letters take time and faculty are asked to write many, many letters.

Fourth, provide all the information necessary to write a detailed letter. It is in your interest to provide the professor with all the information he or she needs to write a detailed and specific letter. This includes:

  • a description of the job or graduate program and an explanation of your interest
  • a signed FERPA release form (click for form)
  • a signed letter of recommendation form from LSDAS if you are applying to law school
  • a resume that includes your GPA and appropriate extracurricular activities
  • a reminder about specific courses you took from or papers you wrote for the instructor
  • any other information that would be helpful and relevant to include
  • clearly note the deadline and provide information about delivery
    • How should it be sent?
    • if you are using regular mail, include a stamped, addressed envelope

Fifth, it is not appropriate to offer or give a gift to a faculty member in exchange for or as a thank you for writing a letter of recommendation.

Finally, keep the letter-writer informed. Once the instructor has spent time writing a letter, s/he will be interested to know whether or not you were given the opportunity.

News

PLS 325 Winter 2017

PLS 325 Winter 2017

September 19, 2016

PLS 325 Human Rights and Democracy in Russia and the Post-Communist World

Professor Diven Researches and Teaches in Sri Lanka

Professor Diven Researches and Teaches in Sri Lanka

July 18, 2016

As part of her winter 2016 sabbatical project, Professor Polly Diven spent the month of February teaching and researching in Sri Lanka.

International Relations Summer Interns 2016

International Relations Summer Interns 2016

June 28, 2016

Many of our students are pursuing internships this spring/summer at a variety of Grand Rapids, DC, and international placements.

IR Major Khader Jabbar Receives Gilman Award

IR Major Khader Jabbar Receives Gilman Award

June 07, 2016

Khader Jabbar was one of two Grand Valley students who were recently selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Jiri Aberle Wins Thomas Seykora Award

Jiri Aberle Wins Thomas Seykora Award

June 07, 2016

Congratulations to Jiri Aberle, GVSU IR 2016, who won the Thomas Seykora Award for his "outstanding contribution to the campus community" and excellent academic standing.

View More News

Events

Sri Lanka: the Influence of a Small State Among Superpowers

Sri Lanka: the Influence of a Small State Among Superpowers

October 5, 2016 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Professor Diven will present her sabbatical research on Sri Lanka, including background on the history and culture of this "Pearl of the Indian Ocean." She will summarize her research into...

Human Rights Film Series: The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon

Human Rights Film Series: The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon

October 13, 2016 6:30 PM

The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon Story of Sudanese refugees adapting to life in the US.  Poignant telling of the aftermath of genocide, immigrant rights, and the sometimes hilarious...

Human Rights Film Series: MacFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner

Human Rights Film Series: MacFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner

November 10, 2016 6:30 PM

MacFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner Costner portrays a Southern California high school coach starting a cross country team for migrant farm workers.  True story. *LIB 100 and 201 approved

Human Rights Film Series: Rango, animated film starring Johnny Depp

Human Rights Film Series: Rango, animated film starring Johnny Depp

December 1, 2016 6:30 PM

Rango, animated film starring Johnny Depp Somewhat light take on environmental rights issues, including the right to water.  Everyone needs a night of animation before final exams. �*LIB...

View all Events