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

Political Science Department Named Outstanding GVSU Department

Political Science Department Named Outstanding GVSU Department

Political Science Department Awarded 2022 Outstanding GVSU Department by the Office of Student Life

May 9, 2022

Koczak Wins 2022 Outstanding Paper Award

Koczak Wins 2022 Outstanding Paper Award

Katherine Koczak wins the 2022 Outstanding Paper Award in Political Science and International Relations

Apr 20, 2022

Huisman Wins PLS Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award

Huisman Wins PLS Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award

Kyle Huisman wins the 2022 Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award for Political Science

Apr 20, 2022

Petragallo Wins IR Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award

Petragallo Wins IR Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award

Haley Petragallo wins the 2022 Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award for International Relations

Apr 20, 2022

PLS Major Wins University Award

PLS Major Wins University Award

Senior Autumn Mueller has been named a 2022 Seykora Award winner.

Apr 15, 2022

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May 25, 2022 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

MARSHALL SCHOLARSHIP Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom. Up to fifty Scholars are selected each year to study...

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You’ll learn practical tips on how to prepare for grad school, how to enhance your grad application and profile, and, hopefully, answer the question is graduate school right for me. Whether...

Fall Deadline Fellowships: Scoville, PPIA Summer Seminar, CLS, JET, DAAD, CBYX

June 1, 2022 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Many door-opening opportunities have fall deadlines - for a sample of these, join us as we explore fellowships for undergraduates and for alumni that have fall deadlines. You'll want to be working...

Graduate Fellowships for Foreign Service Information Session: Payne, Rangel, Pickering

June 2, 2022 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program seeks to attract outstanding individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency...

The British Awards (Marshall, Mitchell, Rhodes) Information Session: Fellowships for Graduate Study

June 8, 2022 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

MARSHALL SCHOLARSHIP Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom. Up to fifty Scholars are selected each year to study...

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Page last modified July 25, 2016