I write many recommendation letters each year, for graduate school applicants, postdoc applicants, and candidates for tenure track and more senior positions, and consider this among my most important professional duties. When you are considering requesting a letter of recommendation from me, it is in your interest to plan ahead and prepare.

Deadlines: Please make your request early, and no later than 6 weeks in advance. Requesting up to a full semester ahead is not unreasonable. In most cases, we will schedule a brief meeting in person or over skype to discuss the details of your applications and make sure that I am a good fit as a letter writer. I will expect you to provide all supporting materials at least 1 month before your first deadline.

If you need a letter on short notice, or cannot provide your supporting materials a month in advance, it will be better to ask someone else.

Supporting Materials: Once I have agreed to write your recommendation, you can help by sending all of the following information (or whichever of the following applies in your case) as part of a single email with pdf attachments.

  • CV
  • transcript (for undergrads applying to graduate school)
  • a list of classes that you have taken with me, and your grades in those classes
  • everything you will submit with your application (personal essay, research statement, teaching statement)
  • copies of (or links to) your papers
  • names of your other letter writers
  • a brief description of the programs or jobs to which you are applying, with deadlines
  • any particular aspects of your work that you would like me to address
  • any other information that you think might be helpful

Reminders: I am generally reliable about submitting letters on time, but the numbers are large and growing and it is possible that something could get lost in the shuffle one of these days. Making sure that your important deadlines are not forgotten is ultimately your responsibility. If a deadline is one week away or less and the letter has not been submitted, please send a gentle reminder.