English
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Applying to Graduate School

 Advice From Your Professors

We encourage students to apply to graduate school, and we welcome the chance to write letters of recommendation.  Over the years, we have developed examples of what we consider "best practices" for students who plan to apply, most of them inspired from what students like you have taught us.  What follows is a brief list of what has worked best both for students and for faculty recommenders:

  1. We need time to write the best letter(s) for you. Each letter needs to be shaped according to the program for which you are applying.
  1. Select your schools and draw up your list as soon as possible, definitely by the beginning of fall semester your senior year. Due dates for completed applications range from mid-November to mid-January.  Lists should include between four and eight schools--rarely, two or three more.
  1. Include your list in your requests to faculty. Your list should include the full name of the institution. Some large state systems have several branches, so include the full name of your choice (example: The State University of New York-Albany).  You should also include the correct name and degree sought for each school.  Include the applications deadline for each school.
  1. Consider when to follow up with your recommender. Many schools now use automated on-line applications that are routed to the proper program.  Once your application is received, your recommenders are contacted via e-mail with instructions.  Many schools will notify you when the letter of recommendation has been received.  Use your discretion when contacting your recommender if you do not hear from the school about received recommendations within two weeks of the deadline.
  1. Select your recommenders from faculty who know your work well. Advanced coursework is more relevant for graduate school applications. When possible, try to match recommenders to the focus of your programs.
  1. Offer to provide copies of a paper submitted to your recommender. If the school requires a statement or a writing sample, this document can also be provided to your recommenders. E-mail attachments are best. 
  1. Keep us informed. Although we know that there might be some news you will not want to communicate, it is important to us to know when our students are successful in their applications. We'd love to congratulate you! 

 

Good luck and best wishes!

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