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

Pullins Wins Outstanding Paper Award

Pullins Wins Outstanding Paper Award

Sarah D. Pullins is the winner of the Outstanding Paper Award for Political Science and International Relations.

May 3, 2024

Retirement Tribute: Professor Michelle Miller-Adams

Retirement Tribute: Professor Michelle Miller-Adams

The Political Science Department congratulates Professor Michelle Miller-Adams on her retirement.

Apr 15, 2024

GV in DC Scholarship Winner: Jackson Tisdale

GV in DC Scholarship Winner: Jackson Tisdale

Jackson Tisdale is the recipient of the GV in DC Scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year.

Apr 5, 2024

Student named as Truman Scholarship Finalist

Student named as Truman Scholarship Finalist

Junior Nancy Hoogwerf becomes fifth Laker to receive honor.

Mar 20, 2024

Tafel Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Tafel Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Tafel wins Pew Teaching Excellence Award

Feb 19, 2024

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Interested in teaching English abroad as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA)? Curious about the Fulbright Study/Research (S/R) grants for US students seeking support for a year of funded graduate...

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Interested in teaching English abroad as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA)? Curious about the Fulbright Study/Research (S/R) grants for US students seeking support for a year of funded graduate...

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You should have your essays for the Fulbright, Marshall and/or Rhodes Fellowships well underway! The internal GVSU deadline is August 16. It's not too late for feedback and guidance! If...

Writing Workshop for Fulbright US Student Program applicants (ETA and S/R)

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Have you begun work on your Fulbright U.S. Student Award essays? Would you welcome a review of the key components of the essays – and an opportunity to brainstorm opening sentences, paragraph...

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August 6, 2024 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Join me to learn more about the Gilman International Scholarship and other fellowships (external, competitive, high-impact opportunities) that help to defray the cost of undergraduate study abroad! The...

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Page last modified July 25, 2016