You may find quick, useful information in the links provided here. However, the best source of information is our dedicated faculty and staff. Please contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your success.
Resources for Students
Letter of Recommendation (LOR)
Letters of recommendation (LORs) are one of the most important documents you submit with your graduate school or job applications. They serve as a professional assessment of your potential to complete graduate school or perform successfully on the job. Therefore, it is important to develop relationships with your instructors. Take advantage of your faculty mentor's invitation to meet whether you are on campus or online. Speak with your instructors outside of class (e.g.; discuss topics from class you'd like to learn more about, learn more about their research, get career advice). Get involved! Below are tips and resources to help you reach out to faculty members and successfully ask them to write you a strong letter.
Which faculty member should I ask for a LOR?
Faculty with whom you have taken at least one or two courses. Preferably, you would have done very well in these courses, and made a connection with / stood out favorably to your instructor. Ask yourself if you have made a great impression on this faculty. Ask yourself if they see you as hard-working, professional, polished, and mature. Then, ask them if they can write you a strong LOR for graduate school or a job you are applying for.
Do not assume a faculty will agree to write you a letter even if you did well in their course(s).
Not all requests for a LOR will be accepted. Do not be offended if they say no. The most common reasons faculty might decline your request include:
- They do not know you / your work well enough, so they are not in a position to offer a professional assessment.
- Weak or uninformative LORs decrease your chances of getting into the program or job you desire.
- Timing or workload issues. This is why you should ask well in advance.
When should I ask for a LOR?
- You should ask for a LOR at least 6 weeks before the first application is due.
- Last minute requests often get rejected because of timing or workload issues.
What should I include in my request for a LOR?
- A polite introduction and overview of your request.
- The course(s) you took with them and the grade(s) you earned there.
- The semester(s) and year(s) you took the course(s).
- Your graduation date (actual or planned).
- Any research activity in and/or outside of required coursework, with the faculty member or with others.
- Any presentations of your coursework or research.
- A current resume/CV
- The statement of purpose you will be sending with your application.
- An unofficial copy of your transcript.
- GRE scores if applicable.
- Sample coursework from your course(s) with that faculty member.
- Organizational or leadership activities.
- Any other experiences outside the university such as employment, volunteer work, or internships related to your field of study.
- Honors and awards you have received (e.g., Psi Chi membership)
- Information about the program you are applying to (name of school, department, program, and focus of study to the best of your knowledge).
- A specific address (physical or electronic) that the LOR should be sent to.
- If any physical paperwork needs to be sent, provide the physical paperwork along with an addressed and stamped envelope.
- If the LOR is to be submitted via an online form, list the faculty member on the website that will send them an automated request (but only after the faculty has agreed to write your letter).
- The deadline for the LOR (this is usually the deadline for the application).
- If the graduate school has a specific form that needs to be filled out by the faculty member, provide a copy of the form.
- If you are requesting LORs for multiple programs, provide an organized list that includes the information mentioned above for each program. The nearest deadlines should be listed first in the list.
- Double check that all the information you are sending is correct and up to date. If anything changes, let the faculty member know ASAP.
- Faculty members may have additional requirements, so ask them if there is anything else they would like to have before writing your LOR.
What should I do after a faculty has agreed to write my LOR?
- Waive your right to access/review the LOR in your application.
- If you change your mind about one or more of your applications, let the faculty member know ASAP that they no longer need to submit this LOR.
- Follow up with the faculty member 2-3 weeks before the deadline to ask if they need any other materials from you and gently remind them of the upcoming deadline.
- If you do not receive notification that they submitted your LOR, follow up again 1 week before the deadline.
- After you have submitted your materials, keep the faculty updated on any decisions you get – they are rooting for you and would love to hear from you.
- It is professional and courteous to write a thank-you note or letter (email is fine) to your faculty for spending the time and effort to write you a strong LOR.
Student Success Series: Kisses of Death--What to Avoid When Applying to Graduate School
As part of the Psychology Department's Student Success Series, Dr. Jeannette Stein and Amanda Taylor, MS, discussed what to avoid in the graduate school application process. The principles may be applied to job applications and interviews as well. Contact a faculty mentor to learn more.
Student Success Series: GRE preparation
Learn more about preparing for the GRE. Presented by lecturer, Jason Jarvis, as part of the Psychology Department's Student Success Series . If you'd like more information about this workshop or any other departmental events, feel free to contact us. We'd love to hear from you!
Student Success Series: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Dr. Allen Bellamy and Dr. Karen Bedell discuss the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology: Learn more about this exciting field, required education and career options.