I love getting to write letters of recommendation for my students. It gives me an excellent opportunity to talk about how great you are! Sometimes students don’t know all of the norms around asking for a letter of recommendation, so this document is supposed to be a guide to that.  If you are thinking about asking me for a letter of recommendation, please read through this page first.

What is a Recommendation Letter?

Letters of recommendation in academia are different from recommendations for most jobs. They are usually 1-2 pages long, so they take time to write! Please give me at least two weeks notice before the deadline, and preferably longer. If you ask me with less than two weeks to go, I may not be able to write a letter for you.

In your letter, I’ll include examples of course work that you’ve done, and any other stories/anecdotes that give evidence of how amazing you are. So please help me do this by reminding me of what cool things you’ve done. If our interactions are limited to lectures and assigning you a grade, I may not be able to write a very strong letter for you. It helps me if you come to student hours, or if we have other interactions outside of class time.

How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter

If you’d like me to write you a letter, please set up a meeting time with me at calend.ly/murphykate. You deserve a strong letter of recommendation. Letters are kept private from the recommendee, so you won’t see the letter. But you should ask me explicitly: “Can you write me a strong letter of recommendation?” If I say no, then you should probably ask someone else. (You should also ask them if they will write you a strong letter!)

If we’ve agreed that I’ll write you a letter…

…please send me a single email with all of the following:

  • The names of the programs you are applying to, and the deadlines for letters
  • How I should submit my letter for each of those programs
  • Include all of the materials you are submitting (eg CV, personal statement, transcript,…)
  • Any other information that might help me write your letter, such as examples of class projects you did for me or why you are excited about a specific program
  • An email stating whether or not it is OK for me to share your grades from the class in my letter.