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Getting Useful Letters of Recommendation

  1. Letters from faculty members who know you well are the most useful letters for gaining admission to top 30 PhD and MA programs.  
  2. For MA and PhD programs out of the top 30, it is less clear how useful it is to have letters of recommendation from faculty members.  Note: it is always useful to have letter writers who know you well!
  3. How do you get to know your Professors?
    • Do your best to talk with your Professors when you are taking their classes! Go to office hours, ask questions in class and/or walk with the professor from class back to the department.
    • Consider taking our small Honors classes (100AH-BH-CH, 120AH-BH-CH, 110AH-BH) and small Topics classes (109T, 165T).
      • These classes are under 20 students which really helps the instructor to get to know you personally.
      • Typically, you will work on skills that are hard to offer in large classes such as presenting, writing, working together, etc.
      • They are taught by our faculty who are well-connected in the profession. This increases the possibility that the reviewer of your MA or PhD application will know the person who wrote your letter of recommendation.
      • Consider becoming an Undergraduate Instructional Assistant or a PSET Tutor/Coordinator. Again, this helps the faculty get to know you in another capacity and will allow them to speak about how responsible you are, how well you work with other, etc