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

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

GVSU Team Wins World Quest 2014

GVSU Team Wins World Quest 2014

May 09, 2014

PIC Corp Team wins the 2014 World Quest competition hosted by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan

PLS 339 Comparative Democratization

PLS 339 Comparative Democratization

May 07, 2014

PLS 339 offered this fall semester, Mondays and Wednesdays, 4:30-5:45 p.m.

PLS Students Present at Student Scholars Day 2014

PLS Students Present at Student Scholars Day 2014

May 07, 2014

Samuel Hannah, Marc Plooster, and Marissa Swartz participate in Student Scholars Day

Mork Wins PLS/IR Outstanding Paper Award

Mork Wins PLS/IR Outstanding Paper Award

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.

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Events

The Battle for Justice in Palestine: A Just Peace for Gaza?

The Battle for Justice in Palestine: A Just Peace for Gaza?

September 8, 2014 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Palestinian-American journalist Ali Abunimah, co-founder and current director of the influential website, The Electronic Intifada (www.electronicintifada.net), will be giving a talk and engaging in...

A Common Ground Panel Discussion

A Common Ground Panel Discussion

September 23, 2014 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM

A panel of political science professors from GVSU will provide fresh perspectives on this year’s major elections—for the governorship, and the US House and Senate—and discuss the...

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