University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Religion


Letter of Recommendation

How to Request a Letter of Recommendation from Your Religion Professor:
Applying to graduate school or for a scholarship? Need a recommendation for a
study abroad program? Here are some tips to follow if you need your Religion
professor to write a letter of recommendation for you.

1. Ask in advance. The earlier you ask us to write the better we are able to do
so. Try to ask the professor at least a month in advance of the date it is due.
Never ask for a letter with fewer than two weeks before the deadline—that
doesn’t give us enough time to write a good letter. You will also need to
follow up to be sure that the letter has been sent. Check in with us as the
deadline approaches. Be sure to be polite.

2. Provide necessary information. Provide us with the logistical information
we will need to write the letter: When is it due? Where should it be sent? Is
there a form that we need to complete to accompany the letter? Are there
guidelines we need to follow in writing the letter? To make sure we are
aware of all of this information, you should compose a brief note that
conveys all of this information clearly. You can do this by email if you’d like,
but be sure to include all of the details.

3. Tell us about yourself. Professors have a lot of students in their classes, and
they are asked to write a lot of letters. It helps us to personalize your letter if
you remind us about who you are, what classes you took with us, and what
you are applying for. Depending on the nature of the program you are
applying to you should provide us with some or all of the following items:
a. Information about your experience with the professor (courses taken,
projects you worked on in her/his class, advising experience, etc.)
b. Copies of papers you wrote for the professor so we can make specific
comments about your work in our classes
c. Your overall GPA and your grade(s) in the class(es) you took with the
d. Relevant information about the program to which you are applying
e. Your personal statement or application essay for the program
f. Your resume or CV
g. Any awards or honors you may have won
h. Relevant work experience or service activities in which you have participated
i. Anything else that you think we should include in your letter

4. Be sure to waive your rights. Most recommendation forms include a
section where you are asked if you wish to waive or retain your rights to see
the final letter. Most professors want their letters to remain confidential, and
most reviewers will take confidential letters more seriously than public
letters. Therefore you should always waive your rights by checking the
appropriate box on the form and signing it (see FERPA waiver below). If you are concerned that the
professor won’t write a positive letter about you then you should find
another professor to ask.

5. Submit a FERPA Waiver. You also need to waive your FERPA rights so that
the professor can legally discuss your course work and grades in the letter.
FERPA is a federal law which protects the privacy of your education records.
If you don’t waive your FERPA rights then we can only speak vaguely about
your work in our classes and we will not be able to discuss the grades you
received from us. Most applications require that this information be
addressed by recommenders so you should always be sure to complete the
waiver. The form can be downloaded here and may be included with the information packet you provide to the
professor before they write the letter.

6. Thank your professor. A thank you note—either by hand or by email—is
appreciated. Please be sure to let us know the status of your application. We
want to know the results.

Last modified March 22 2011 03:01 PM