Requesting a recommendation letter

Throughout your career, you will often need letters of reference (e.g., for awards, university applications, jobs, etc.). It is important to select appropriate letter writers who know you well enough to write a meaningful letter, and who feel comfortable saying only positive things about you. I strongly recommend that you interact with professors as early in your careers as possible in order to have solid options for letter writers when the time comes.

Should you ask me for a letter?

This depends on how much we have interacted and on what basis. In general, if you have taken only a single course with me and have not interacted with me outside of class, I will say no. Unless there was a remarkable amount of interaction (e.g., you regularly attended office hours, frequently participated in class discussion, etc.), it would be difficult for me to write a strong letter. If you are unsure, then ask me if I feel comfortable writing you a strong letter, and I will tell you. I do get asked to write many letters, so I apologize in advance if I must decline.


If I am going to write a letter, I will want a lot of information from you to help me write the strongest letter than I can. Specifically:

So, if you would like a letter of recommendation from me, please email me with the following information:

  1. Include your name and preferred pronouns
  2. Include the instructions to submit the letter (the website, email, contact information, etc.)
  3. Include the date the letter is due!
  4. Give me a list of at least three attributes you would like me to emphasize in the letter (more is better!).
  5. Give me a list of at least three events / interactions / etc. that you would like me to include in the letter. For example,
    • Challenges overcome
    • Specific conversations we’ve had
    • Demonstrated strengths
    • et cetera
  6. Fill out and send me a FERPA Release for Reference Request Form. If you don’t, I cannot discuss your grades in the letter. If you would like me to discuss your performance in a class, I will first need a filled out release form.
  7. Attach your CV or resume. Include any other essays you have written as part of your application, such as a personal statement or research plan.
  8. If you need hard copies of the letter, please provide me with addressed and stamped envelopes.

I will write letters as promptly as possible and will respond to such requests quickly.