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:
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.
April 14, 2014
Quinlyn Mork's paper, "Democracy in Ghana: A Product of Elite Construction?" has been selected as the Outstanding Paper written in 2013.
April 14, 2014
PLS major, Alissa Marsh Mack, is the 2014 Political Science Outstanding Student.
March 26, 2014
IR major David Leestma wins nationally competitive Critical Language Scholarship.
March 21, 2014
The Washington Center confirms it is still accepting summer 2014 applications on a space-available basis.