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

Professors Richards and Zhao Publish Study of the Chinese Legal System

December 20, 2019

Professors Mark Richards and Yi Zhao teamed up for a research project on how the legal concept of the public figure, central to libel cases in the U.S., has now spread to the Chinese legal system.

DEAN ANNOUNCES COMMENCEMENT MARSHALS FOR FALL 2019

November 26, 2019

Dean Fred Antczak is pleased to announce that serving as commencement marshals will be Professor Polly Diven of Political Science and Jeff Kelly Lowenstein of the School of Communication.

International Relations Students Simulate Response to Calamitous Global Event

November 18, 2019

International Relations Students Simulate Response to Calamitous Global Event

Paul B. Henry Internship Announcement

September 30, 2019

Paul B. Henry Internship

GV Students Spend Summer Interning in DC

September 27, 2019

GVSU Political Science and International Relations Summer 2019 Internships

View More News

Events

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., - YUSEF SALAAM PRESENTATION - LIB 100/201 APPROVED!

January 20, 2020 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Yusef Salaam was 15 years old in 1989 when he and four other teenagers were wrongly accused and convicted of attacking and raping a woman in New Your City's Central Park.  Collectively know...

REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., - CEDRIC TAYLOR PRESENTATION - LIB 100/201 APPROVED!

January 22, 2020 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Cedric Taylor, associate professor of sociology at Central Michigan University, is the writer, director and co-producer of "Nor Any Drop to Drink:  The Flint Water Crisis."  Taylor...

The Washington Center Informational Meeting

January 23, 2020 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM

Interested in interning in Washington D.C.? Interested in an in-depth academic seminar that you could get credit for in a short time period? Join us to learn from The Washington Center representative...

STEVE LUXENBERG: PLESSY V. FERGUSON--RACE IN AMERICAN MEMORY - LIB 100/201 APPROVED!

January 23, 2020 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

In May of 1896, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Plessy V. Ferguson. Though the justices’ 7-1 decision created little stir among the public, it helped lay the foundation for racial...

THE GLOBAL EXPRESS: HIGHER EDUCATION AS A GLOBAL COMMODITY

January 29, 2020 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

The Global Express is a public forum on global affairs and current events on Wednesdays through the winter semester. Join us when Dr. Mark Schaub, Interim Dean for the Brooks College of interdisciplinary...

View More Events