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

Gov. Appoints PLS and IR Alumni to Board of Trustees

Gov. Appoints PLS and IR Alumni to Board of Trustees

December 14, 2014

Megan Sall and Victor Cardenas named to GVSU Board by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Senior Political Science Major Wins School Board Seat

Senior Political Science Major Wins School Board Seat

November 11, 2014

Senior political science major Toby Hutchins wins Fennville School Board position

PLS Alumna Kristin Sage (Mahn)

PLS Alumna Kristin Sage (Mahn)

November 11, 2014

Look who's in the news for representing Wayne State University Law School!

Research Student Position at GVSU's Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy

Research Student Position at GVSU's Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy

October 07, 2014

The Johnson Center for Philanthropy is seeking an undergraduate or graduate student to assist in its community-based research and evaluation projects.

Myott ('09) Represents Couple in Gay Marriage Suit

Myott ('09) Represents Couple in Gay Marriage Suit

June 25, 2014

Attorney Stephanie Myott ('09) recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of her clients who want the State of Michigan to recognize their out-of-state marriage

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Events

Humanity in Action Fellowship

Humanity in Action Fellowship

January 8, 2015 All Day

Intensive and demanding, the Humanity in Action Fellowship brings together international groups of college students and recent graduates to explore national histories of discrimination and resistance—including...

Outstanding Paper Award

Outstanding Paper Award

February 9, 2015 All Day

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

Frozen Time Screening

Frozen Time Screening

February 12, 2015 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Grand Valley is proud to present the screening of: Frozen Time, Liquid Memories: 1942-2012 a film by Dragan Kujundzic Kujundzic is a Professor of Film and Media Studies, Jewish, Germanic and Slavic...

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