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

Student Scholars Day Registration

Student Scholars Day Registration

February 05, 2016

Registration for Student Scholars Day is opening soon! REMEMBER: it is so important that you showcase your academic work! Do not miss this amazing opportunity!

Miller-Adam's Research appears in The White House

Miller-Adam's Research appears in The White House

January 26, 2016

The Political Science Department is proud to announce Professor Miller-Adam's research was a leading influence in the White House this past week! Download her book here!

The Heir Apparent Presidency

The Heir Apparent Presidency

January 22, 2016

The Political Science Department is proud to announce the publication of Professor Donald Zinman's book: The Heir Apparent Presidency

NEH Common Heritage award

NEH Common Heritage award

December 15, 2015

The Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University, building on the work of Professor Andy Schlewitz, received a Common Heritage Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to collect oral histories of Michigan migrant workers.

Student Founds Breast Cancer Awareness Organization

Student Founds Breast Cancer Awareness Organization

November 17, 2015

Political Science minor Mollie Smith founds BRCAn't Stop Me.

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Events

Outstanding Paper Award

Outstanding Paper Award

February 10, 2016 All Day

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

Paul B. Henry Congressional Internship

Paul B. Henry Congressional Internship

February 15, 2016 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 2016 session.  Students may also...

Great Decisions Global Discussion Series: "Climate Change: Local Solutions to Global Problems"

Great Decisions Global Discussion Series: "Climate Change: Local Solutions to Global Problems"

February 15, 2016 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM

When it comes to climate change, the local can impact the global! Former Mayor Heartwell draws on his decades of work creating a more sustainable Grand Rapids and insights gained for...

Great Decisions Global Discussion Series: "Never Again: the UN's Role in Genocide Prevention"

Great Decisions Global Discussion Series: "Never Again: the UN's Role in Genocide Prevention"

February 22, 2016 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM

Though 70% of Americans believe the U.S. should prevent mass atrocities world wide, according to a recent study by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, how do we do it? Dr. O'Bannon discusses...

Career Fair

Career Fair

February 25, 2016 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Career Fair is for Everyone! First & Second Year Students: explore job titles, career paths & employers Juniors: meet employers & learn about internship opportunities Seniors &...

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