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Letters of Recommendation

English Course Listings
English Course Listings

At some point in your career as an English major, you will almost certainly have to ask a faculty member to serve as a reference or to write a letter of recommendation – for a job, a study abroad program, a university research grant, an outside fellowship, or graduate or professional school.

Please don’t hesitate to do so! Faculty members are happy to write letters of recommendation, and doing so is an expected part of the job of being a university professor.

You should, however, observe a few common courtesies when asking for letters of recommendation.

Bear in mind that different kinds of situations require different kinds of letters. It’s fine for a first- or second-year student to ask a teaching assistant or a recent Ph.D. for a letter of recommendation for a study abroad program. Senior English majors applying to graduate or professional school, however, should request most of their letters from associate professors or professors, who can write persuasively on the basis of their many years of experience. Seniors should also ask for letters from faculty members who know them and their work well, ideally over multiple courses and quarters. Sometimes it even makes sense to delay applications to graduate and professional school until the year after graduation, so that professors can write about a more extensive body of coursework and testify to the excellence of senior theses and other final projects.