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

GVSU Students Participate in the National Security Seminar

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GVSU Students Participate in the National Security Seminar

Professor Gasim Provides Expert Analysis of Developments in Yemen

July 29, 2019

Dr. Gamal Gasim, Professor of Political Science and Middle East Studies, has been quoted and interviewed in multiple news outlets recently about the UAE's announcement of a troop reduction in Yemen

Greendyk and Pattison win PLS/IR Outstanding Paper Award

May 01, 2019

Two papers were selected as the Outstanding Papers written in 2018

Hartline and Zomer Honored at Student Awards Convocation

April 11, 2019

Hartline and Zomer Honored at Student Awards Convocation

Jones Selected as Truman Finalist

April 04, 2019

Political Science and International Relations major Cameron Jones is a finalist for the prestigious Truman Scholar competition.

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Events

Study Abroad FIRST STEP Meeting

August 28, 2019 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Interested in studying abroad? Attend a Study Abroad First Step Meeting! These information sessions go over all the basics of study abroad including how to pick a program, funding, academic information...

Political Science and International Relations Internship Information Meeting

August 28, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

With… Professor Polly Diven, Director of International Relations Professor Donald Zinman, Coordinator, Political Science Internships Internship available locally and in Washington,...

Study Abroad FIRST STEP Meeting

September 4, 2019 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Interested in studying abroad? Attend a Study Abroad First Step Meeting! These information sessions go over all the basics of study abroad including how to pick a program, funding, academic information...

Study Abroad FIRST STEP Meeting

September 11, 2019 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Interested in studying abroad? Attend a Study Abroad First Step Meeting! These information sessions go over all the basics of study abroad including how to pick a program, funding, academic information...

Study Abroad Open House + ICE CREAM social

September 13, 2019 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Thinking about studying abroad? Join the Padnos International Center for an ice cream social and open house! You can start browsing study abroad programs and learn about scholarship opportunities! Ice...

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