Letters Of Recommendation Requests

Who to Ask?

  1. 3 different letters by 3 different professors
  2. Professors that you have a good rapport with, whose classes you have performed well in (preferably 2 classes or lab experience).

When to ask?

  1. Standard time to write a letter of recommendation is 3 weeks or longer from the time that all pertinent materials are provided to instructor in a formal “Letter of Recommendation Request Packet.”
  2. Formal requests should be made after the application process has been begun by you, with AT LEAST 3 weeks time before application deadlines (as determined by individual graduate school program).

What to provide?

  1. Manila envelope to organize all materials.
  2. List of all institutions for which an individual professor is requested to provide a letter on behalf for you.  Include due dates, full names of institution, complete addresses, whether it is an online submission or mail-in.
  3. Mail–in applications MUST be completed with Professor’s information, your current institution, your personal information, AND you must check off WAIVE your right to view the letter.  Provide a fully addressed, stamped envelope for each program that you are applying to.
  4. Online submissions MUST also be checked to WAIVE your right to view the letter.  A formal request will be sent from the institution by which you are applying directly to the Professor that you indicate on the online application.  Be certain that this person has formally agreed to write you a letter of recommendation prior to this part of the application process!  Make sure that you have provided your completed packet to the individual prior to submitting his/her name and email information for specific programs.
  5. Personal statement (as close to finalized as possible)
  6. Copy of transcripts.  This does not have to be an official copy, but a copy that the professor can reference for grade point average, courses taken, etc.
  7. Copy of resume/Curriculum Vitae.
  8. Specific personal information about yourself, your interests in psychology and your academic achievements.  For a good example of what to include, see below:
    1. Why are you interested in going to graduate school/ pursuing this educational path?
    2. What psychology classes have you taken (or other classes relevant to the graduate programs you are applying to)?
    3. Which of my classes did you take?
    4. What classes at your university influenced your decision to apply to graduate school/ this specific program?
    5. What are your long-term academic and career goals?
    6. Do you have any research experience? Describe your research interests (if any).
    7. Do you have any applied experience in psychology (e.g., working with a clinical population)?
    8. What is your G.P.A.?
    9. What scores did you earn on the GRE?
    10. What personal qualities make you a good candidate for graduate study and your desired future occupation?  Suggested qualities to include:
      • motivated and hard-working
      • high intellectual/scholarly ability
      • research skills
      • emotionally stable and mature
      • writing skills (feel free to include a writing sample to demonstrate this)
      • speaking skills
      • teaching skills/potential
      • works well with others
      • creative and original
      • capable of independent thought
    11. Is there anything else I should know about/ include in your letter of recommendation?

Follow Up:

  1. Always provide your email address to the professor so that he/she can notify you when the letter has been submitted.
  2. Always show appreciation for the professor having taken the time to write on your behalf in the form of a Thank you note.
  3. Always inform them as to the status of your applications, acceptance, and future plans!