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Letters 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

Tim Zeeb

Tim Zeeb

October 31, 2017

We were thrilled to welcome our Distinguished Alumnus-in-Residence, Tim Zeeb.

PLS 325 Winter 2018

PLS 325 Winter 2018

October 16, 2017

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

Batchelder Scholarship Winners

Batchelder Scholarship Winners

May 19, 2017

Gabrielle Lewis and Estefany Paniagua-Pardo are the winners of the John T. Batchelder Scholarship.

PLS Excellence in a Discipline Award

PLS Excellence in a Discipline Award

May 12, 2017

Audrey Tappenden received the Excellence in a Discipline Award.

Alum Eri Veliaj Delivers Commencement Address

Alum Eri Veliaj Delivers Commencement Address

May 08, 2017

GVSU Political Science alumnus Eri Veliaj delivered the April Commencement address.

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Events

Paul B. Henry Congressional Internship Award on January 19, 2018

Paul B. Henry Congressional Internship Award

January 19, 2018 All Day

The Henry Internship places a GVSU student in the Washington, D.C. offices of one of Michigan’s U.S. Representatives or Senators during the spring/summer session. The Paul B. Henry...

PPLC Flyer on February 8, 2018

Public Policy and Leadership Conference

February 8, 2018 All Day

The Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC) seeks to provide students from underrepresented, underserved, low socioeconomic status areas access and opportunity to graduate programs focused on...

Outstanding Paper Award on March 13, 2018

Outstanding Paper Award

March 13, 2018 All Day

The Department of Political Science and International Relations program are holding our fifth annual Outstanding Paper Award competition. We invite all students who major or minor (including...

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