Letters of Recommendation

Requirements for getting a letter

I am happy to write letters of recommendation to support great talents, but I can only write a strong letter if you have impressed me. Below are some guidelines.

Minimum requirement

  • Have worked with me as a research assistant (preferably 2 semesters) or as a teaching assistant.

Additional evidence

Here is a list of things that you could do to help me know you better. Meeting each one of these requirements will give me one more piece of evidence to strongly recommend you. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Be responsible for your work and for your choices. Don’t make excuses.
  • Be able to manage multiple tasks. Plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Be willing and eager to learn new skills.
  • Be passionate about something related to your work and devote time and effort to it.
  • Be curious about scientific questions.¬†Participate in class or lab discussions and show your critical thinking.
  • Be a good teammate, especially in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Be creative.

If you have not demonstrated enough evidence to me, I won’t be able to say many positive things about you in my letter. So, please give me the chance to know you before requesting a letter from me.

Materials to be sent to me

If I have agreed to write a letter for you, please provide the following information to me.

Please send these at least 2 weeks in advance. Multiple letters would require extra time.

Information about the application(s)

  • Due date.
  • Name of the program/job/award/etc. that you are applying for.
  • Address to which the letter will be sent.
  • If the letter will be sent via email, please provide the name of the recipient and their email address.
  • Link to the application or advertisement.
  • From their advertisement, what characteristics are they looking for?
  • If you are applying to multiple graduate school programs, please compile a list with relevant information and send me all the requests at once.

Information about you

  • CV or resume with the following information: (if some of these are not listed in your CV or resume, you could provide an additional list to me)
    • GPA, and other standardized test scores.
    • Awards and honors.
    • Activities/relevant experience related to this application.
    • Skills/qualifications related to this application.
  • 3-5 top qualities that you would like me to emphasize. For each quality, please include:
    • Supporting evidence for this quality (that you have demonstrated to me!).
    • How does this quality match the requirement of the application?
  • Please remind me of our interactions.
    • Have you taken any of my courses? Which year and term? What is your grade? Did we have any insightful conversations during class discussions or office hours? Were there any assignments that you were especially proud of and would like to share with me?
    • Have you worked in the lab? Since when and for how long? Which project were you working on, with whom? What roles did you play? Have you participated in lab meeting discussions or presented at lab meetings or conferences?
    • Anything else?
  • Your motivation for this application (applicable to graduate school or job applications).
    • Why are you interested in this program/career/etc?
    • If you have a “personal statement” or a “cover letter”, that would be helpful, even if it is not the final version.


  • Please complete the Release for Letters of Recommendation form and return it to me so that I can release your information in my letters. The link can be found by going to¬†FERPA forms and navigating to “Release for Letters of Recommendation”.
  • Please don’t hesitate to remind me as the deadline approaches.
  • Finally, please come back and let me know how it all turned out! Where did you get accepted? Where are you going?

This page inspired by Dr. Steve Mansfield and Dr. Wendy Braje.