Letter of Recommendation Policy


I am happy to write letters of recommendation for students who have excelled in my classes.  Because a large number of students request recommendations each semester, I have prepared the following guidelines:

I generally prefer to write recommendations for students who earned at least an A- in my course.  

Since most institutions ask professors to rank students against all others they have taught, a student with a grade of B+ or lower in my class will usually be better served by looking elsewhere for a recommendation.  My letter will be much stronger if you have already completed my class, since I will have your final paper to base it on; in a pinch, however, I will write letters for students who are maintaining an A- or higher during the current semester.

I only write letters for students who have waived their right of access.  

Admissions committees generally disregard non-confidential letters, so you will be better served by submitting only confidential letters of recommendation.

Please try to ask at least three weeks in advance.

In special or urgent situations, I may be able to work with less time, but I will be able to compose a more detailed and persuasive letter if I don’t have to write it in a rush. The months of October through January are a particularly busy time in terms of recommendations, so if you need a letter during those months it is especially important that you give me as much advance notice as possible.

You should provide the following materials at least three weeks in advance:

        1) copies of your papers and/or exams (ideally with my markings on them);

        2) your statement of purpose;

        3) a resume or CV;

        4) a description of the program to which you are applying.  

In addition to these official documents, please let me know if there’s any special reasons for your choice of schools, or anything particular about one school or program that interests you or that makes it well suited to you. 

Please provide complete addresses and instructions, along with all necessary forms. 

If you are applying to more than one school or program, please give me a cover letter detailing any special instructions for how individual schools want to receive their letters.  Most schools want these letters sent directly to them (this is also my preference), but some want them sent back to you (signed across the seal).  Please make sure I am aware of these differences in your schools, as well as the deadline for submitting each letter.  Also, please double-check that you have filled out the student portion of the form entirely.