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Getting Useful Letters of Recommendation

(Letter of Recommendation System is Open)
  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

Asking for a letter of recommendation

  • IF YOU EARNED AN A+/ A / A- grade in a UC San Diego Economics class and HAVE an e-mail address:  
    • Please use our Letter of Recommendation (LOR) system to ask for a letter of recommendation from the faculty members who gave you such a high grade. NOTE: The letter of recommendation system opens on October 2, 2023 for next year’s application cycle. LOR System is closed during the summer, June through September.
  • IF YOU EARNED AN A+/ A / A- grade in a UC San Diego Economics class and DO NOT HAVE an e-mail address: 
    • Consider signing up for Alumni Email for Life (its free) and then you can use our letter of recommendation system (which re-opens on October 2, 2023).
    • You can also e-mail your Professors directly.  When you e-mail the faculty member(s), be sure to include the following statement: “I consent to the release of personal and educational information about me in the letter of recommendation that I have requested from you. This authorization allows you to release all information about me, within the University’s possession, to [fill in details (e.g., any other educational institution, any centralized application processing services (list by name if possible), both, etc.]. This authorization shall remain valid unless and until it is rescinded in writing.”
  • Please use our Letter of Recommendation system (which opens 10/02/23) to ask Economics faculty for a letter of recommendation. NOTE: LOR System is closed during the summer, June through September.
  • Complete this form and email as an attachment or deliver in person to the faculty or staff
    member you wish to write a letter of recommendation for you.