Letters of Recommendation

I am always happy to provide letters of recommendation for former students who performed well in my courses, graduate students I have worked with, and colleagues whose work I know well. I do, however, request at least two weeks notice and that you provide me with some basic information.

Former students: Include in your email who you are and what class you are in, what the letter is for including a link to any description of the job/scholarship/etc., the deadline, information on where/how I submit the letter, and a copy of your resume or CV.  Also, include for me what you would like me to highlight in the letter that makes you a good fit for that program/scholarship/internship/job/etc., but be sure this is something I can substantiate with evidence from the course. The more details you provide, the easier it will be for me to write you a strong letter. See the examples below.

Bad example: “Hi Professor, can you write me a letter of recommendation? Best, -Student X”

Good example (anonymized from an email I recently received):

Hi Professor Shaw,

I hope this email finds you well. You may remember me from when I took your [insert course title] class in [insert semester] and your [insert course title] class in [insert semester] . In your classes I was inspired to create this short video [link or file for final assignment for first course] and [brief description of final assignment for second course].

I’m writing to ask if you would be able to offer me a recommendation to the [insert graduate program]. You can click here [include a link] for a brief description of the nature of the program.

This may seem like a step away from the work I did [at University in specific program], but it is due to some of the lessons I learned in your classes that I have developed a desire to work in [name industry/field]. After leaving Temple University in [insert graduate year], I worked as [explain what you have done since we last spoke]. Once I arrived [insert what you want to do now that this letter is meant to help achieve].

I currently work [insert current job], and it has been an eye opening and fulfilling experience to learn [what is driving this desire to go to grad school?] and I’ve grown passionate about [what are your goals?]

The application is due [date] and the recommendation is submitted [where do I send the letter]. Due to the nature of the program, I was hoping you could speak to my academic work and intellectual curiosity. If you need me to forward you any of the work that I produced in your classes, I would be happy to do so.

Please let me know if you have enough time and are willing to write me a strong recommendation. Attached to this email is also my current work resume for your review.



[Former Student].

Graduate students and colleagues: Please provide the deadline, information on where/how I submit the letter, and a copy of your cover letter and CV. If you are asking for multiple letters, please provide a list of deadlines, updated as you add more (but always include the full list), and a nudge the day before each deadline if you do not have confirmation that I submitted it.  In addition, please include an outline (bullet points are fine) of aspects of your work, accomplishments, publications, courses taught, etc. you would like me to highlight. If there is anything you would like me to de-emphasize (i.e. you are applying for a non-academic job, so I shouldn’t highlight your research) please let me know that as well.